The List: Tracking the corporate response to Ohio’s ‘Don’t Say Gay' bill
Stonewall Columbus lists more than 40 corporate sponsors on its website. We will continue to update this list if and when any of them publicly address Ohio House Bill 616.
In recent years, corporations have embraced the LGBTQ community when it serves, tossing rainbow-colored keychains and koozies to parade-goers from bank-sponsored Pride floats while adopting rainbow-hued logos online for the month of June. But marketing does not equal support, and too often when issues become challenging corporate “partners” fall silent. That is if they’re not already financially supporting politicians whose policies continue to damage the queer community.
Witness the recent case of Disney, which donated around $300,000 to the Republican backers of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, remained silent throughout its passage and then awkwardly attempted to walk this inaction back after the bill had been signed into law. For its efforts, Disney has since been embroiled in a standoff with bad faith right-wing actors who have accused the company of being populated by pedophiles working feverishly to “groom” children — QAnon-related dog whistles (air raid sirens?) that have gradually moved from the fringe to the absolute heart of Republican politics.
Now, a similar fight is shaping up in Ohio, with word breaking today (Tuesday, April 5) that Republican lawmakers have introduced their own version of the Florida bill. Sponsored by Republican Reps. Jean Schmidt and Mike Loychik, Ohio House Bill 616 would ban teachers from addressing the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity with students in kindergarten through third grade, while limiting instruction in grades four through 12 to “age appropriate” materials in accordance with state standards. (For good measure, the bill would also forbid the teaching of so-called “divisive concepts,” singling out everything from Critical Race Theory to “The 1619 Project.”)
As in Florida, the bill’s language is purposely vague, which has led some LGBTQ teachers in the Sunshine State to quit prematurely rather than navigate the potential minefields. In one instance, Florida parents demanded a 6th grade teacher face “consequences” for acknowledging his marriage to another man in school when asked by students.
With “Don’t Say Gay” now a reality in Ohio, and bearing in mind the unlikelihood of a veto from Gov. Mike DeWine, who continues to pitch hard right while warding off a primary challenge from behatted anti-mask restaurateur Joe Blystone, where do the state’s supposedly pro-LGBTQ corporations stand on the issue? And will any of them be proactive in addressing the bill by taking meaningful (read: financial) actions?
While it’s fair to ask these questions of any corporation that does business in the state (including Intel, whose massive financial commitment to Ohio gives it historically unprecedented sway), we’re going to focus on those businesses and organizations that have already made some public pledge of support to the LGBTQ community. On its website, Stonewall Columbus lists more than 40 corporate partners, with statuses ranging from “Partner” (Grange Insurance) to “Fan” (Planned Parenthood).
Here’s the full list, which we’ll continue to update with actions taken, if any, over the coming days and weeks. (Email any updates to email@example.com.)
Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
American Electric Power Foundation
Cameron Mitchell Restaurants
Wright-Patt Credit Union
Aids Healthcare Foundation
First Commonwealth Bank
Ohio State University
Lifeline of Ohio