Note: This content was originally hosted at nobbs4ccs.com during the 2022 CCS school board election.
Sexualization of Children
In their advertorial in Current in Carmel, the Brake, Brown & Sharp campaign included a section entitled ‘Sexualization of Children.’ What they wrote is somewhat opaque, relies heavily on implication and insinuation and often seems to shift between specific topics from sentence to sentence. Because of how it’s written, rather than treat it as a cohesive statement of their position, we’re going to look at each sentence individually. The claims below are simply the sentences they wrote, addressed in the order they presented them.
Accusation by Insinuation
Before we look at the BBS campaign's claims, I want to touch on something related. To avoid explaining it over and over again below, I’m going to describe and label a rhetorical style frequently employed in politics. It pops up a lot in the statement we’re currently looking at.
Let’s say a political candidate, we’ll call him Frank, says, ‘I think it’s wrong for someone holding an office to funnel state funds to businesses owned by their friends.’ What’s Frank accomplished with that statement?
First, he’s gotten his audience nodding along by taking a position that pretty much everyone agrees on.
Second, he’s heavily implied that his opponent disagrees.
Third, he’s also implied that the unethical behavior in question is something his opponent or the current office holder is already guilty of.
He doesn’t have to offer any evidence of what he’s implying because he hasn’t technically made an accusation.
His opponent may respond, ‘Of course, I’m obviously against that. What are you accusing me of?’ Frank can fall back on, ‘Oh, I didn’t accuse you of anything.’ But the implication remains and we know it will have influenced the minds of some people.
This type of rhetoric benefits Frank even more if he can make the implied accusation in writing. He retains the deniability, but there’s a large chance that many people who see his original implication will never see the other candidate’s response.
Frank also does better by keeping his language as vague as possible, so that each member of his audience hears a bit of what they want to hear in what he’s saying.
I don’t know if that general rhetorical device actually has a name, so I’m going to label it Accusation By Insinuation (ABI). When you see ABI below, that’s a spot where I believe the Brake, Brown & Sharp campaign have used that device.
Sexualization of Children
In the title of the section where they’re addressing sexual orientation and gender identity, BBS uses language tied to pedophilia. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are younger voters who are unaware that a large portion of society used to believe gay people could not be trusted as teachers, scout leaders, etc. for fear that they would abuse the children under their care. I find it extremely disappointing to see a resurgence of political figures implicitly or explicitly tying sexual orientation and gender identity to pedophilia. While I assume the vast majority of our citizens know better, those who want a summary of data refuting that linkage can go here for a shallower overview or here for a deeper one.
Responsible sexual education should be our goal irrespective of any child’s sexual identity or orientation and should always embrace parental involvement.
Here’s our first ABI. While there would surely be some debate around the term ‘responsible’, I imagine that essentially all citizens (and candidates and staff at our schools) would agree with this statement.
Here’s the thing some residents may not know. Carmel’s sex ed follows Indiana state law (see IC 20-30-5-13 and IC 20-30-5-17). For those who don’t click the links, that means that for any sex ed taught in Carmel schools:
Parents are informed before anything is taught about sex.
Parents are able to review the curriculum that will be used.
Parents can opt out of their children receiving sex ed.
Teachers must teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school age children.
Teachers must teach that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems.
Teachers must teach that the best way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and other associated health problems is to establish a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage.
In other words, Carmel schools are already providing ‘responsible sexual education’ and ‘embracing parental involvement.’ If BBS has evidence that our school system is breaking the law, they should provide it. Otherwise, this seems to be nothing more than an ABI.
It is far too easy for children to become confused and inadvertently influenced casualties of the system if we don’t include parents who know them best.
Two for two on ABI’s. As previously stated, if parents weren’t involved, there would be lawsuits and scandal. If you’re a voter who doesn’t have kids in the system, ask any CCS parent if their kid’s school provides notification of sex ed, the opportunity to review the curriculum and the ability to opt out.
Those who lack the skill set and experience to guide a child’s feelings regarding their identity at a young age should not be the primary council (sic) to children seeking answers regarding their sexual identity.
Three for three on ABI’s.
I believe the BBS campaign may have meant to say ‘gender identity’ instead of ‘sexual identity’, but I don’t want to give the appearance of putting words into their mouths. This ABI is also so vague that it’s hard to understand for sure what’s be insinuated, only that it sounds ominous. It feels like they’re trying to paint a picture of Carmel schools’ elementary school teachers advising kids about their sexual identity, which has no basis in reality.
Also, I think it’s worth noting that BBS drops their professed ‘parents know best’ stance in this sentence. Instead, they say children should get counsel ‘regarding their sexual identity’ from those with ‘the skill set and experience to guide a child’s feelings regarding their identity at a young age.’ Perhaps they misspoke but given that Jenny Brake has mentioned bringing chaplains into schools, perhaps not. (To see Jenny’s comments, click here. It should automatically go to the relevant point in the video when you hit play, but if not, it’s at the 24:24 time stamp.)
Children lack the maturity, experience and perspective along with being highly impressionable.
I’d say this is almost or possibly an ABI. If we remove the word ‘the’ from the statement, it becomes a generic statement that most people would generally agree with, but I’m not sure it reaches the threshold of implying an accusation. That said, if the ‘the’ was intentionally included, then they seem to have left off the end of the sentence. I won’t venture a guess at whether that’s the case or, if it is, what it was supposed to say.
Affirmation of natural emotions irresponsibly provided can have long-lasting implications leading to mental illness, drug abuse, depression and even suicidality.
There’s a lot going on in this sentence.
First, we have the ABI implying that teachers or other staff members at Carmel schools are giving ‘affirmation of natural emotions irresponsibly provided’ to children, with no definition of what that means. It’s not an allegation of anything specific, just ominous language that invites the reader to fill it with some negative meaning.
Second, there’s another level of ABI implying that whatever the aforementioned ‘affirmation’ consists of, it can turn kids gay or trans. It’s an ABI because they don’t actually use the terms ‘gay’ or ‘trans’, but it’s hard for me to see any other implication.
There are two things to refute here. One, Carmel teachers aren’t trying to turn kids gay or trans. Again, please talk to parents with kids in the school system. Carmel schools are extremely transparent with parents, and I believe and hope that the majority of Carmel parents are involved enough with their kids to know what’s going on in their schooling. What the schools will do, what they are required to do by federal law under Title IX, is ensure that gay and trans kids are not discriminated against at school.
Two, while science is still working to research and more fully explain sexual orientation and gender identity, it’s fairly well understood that you can’t turn someone gay or straight, trans or non-trans. This article by an IU professor with a PhD in molecular biology provides a short overview of where the science is generally at here.
Lastly, there’s the assertion that being gay or trans can lead to “mental illness, drug abuse, depression and even suicidality”. Overwhelmingly, experts recognize that poor treatment of gay or trans people greatly increases their risk of these tragic outcomes. Here are some relevant links:
Parents who know there (sic) children best must be an integral part of any discussion regarding identity and sexual orientation.
Another ABI. Combined with the previous sentences, the clear implication here is that teachers are talking with young children about their gender identity and sexual orientation without involving the parents. As with the previous ABI’s, the BBS campaign does not make a specific allegation and offers no evidence of this happening.
Again, if you’re not a parent of young kids in the system, please talk to some. Ask them if their kid’s teacher is advising them about their gender identity or sexual orientation. From my experience and speaking with other parents, I see zero evidence of anything like this occurring. I am confident that this would be about the last thing an elementary school teacher would talk to a student about for fear of a lawsuit.
This is not the role of public education of public education outside of the prevue (sic) of and without close collaboration with parents.
Again, an ABI. Again, there’s no specific allegation or evidence from the BBS campaign. Again, please talk to parents.
To be clear, we are not advocating that children at young ages don’t experience emotions in our hyper-sexualized society that they may need to express.
This is a confusing statement, and I’m not entirely sure of how to respond to it without putting words in the mouths of the BBS campaign.
The most straightforward meaning is that they believe young children may need to express emotions in a sexual way. I don’t think that’s what they intended, but if they did, I disagree and think nearly all parents would as well.
If they’re tying gender identity to a hyper-sexualized society, I disagree with that as well. Referring to young children, we’ve long said things like ‘she’s a princess’, ‘she’s a tomboy’ and ‘boys will be boys.’ I don’t think any of those, nor young children’s gender in general, are related to anything sexual or a ‘hyper-sexualized society’.
It is the role of parents and guardians, not the teachers, to discuss and work with their children regarding their emotions.
Another ABI. Again, the overall implication that elementary school teachers are consulting with kids about their gender or sexual orientation has no apparent basis in reality. Again, please talk to parents with kids in the schools if you’re not one.
Schools can offer social service support but only at the behest of and in partnership with parents.
And it ends with an ABI as well. If the BBS campaign had any evidence of impropriety by the schools, it seems a certainty that they would have shared it.
This turned out longer than expected. If you made it to this point, I’d like to thank you for caring enough about our school system to read it.
On this topic, the BBS campaign implied a lot of things at odds with what actually happens in our schools. Again, per the previous links, state and federal law dictates a lot of what’s being discussed here. Given that most of what the BBS campaign stated here is descriptive of what’s already being done in Carmel schools, we’re left wondering what changes they actually hope to make. I would also question, given their statement, whether they understand the laws well enough to ensure that the school district adheres to them. That’s a vital part of the job of being on the school board.
Lastly, if they do understand the law, I hope that they would not intentionally violate them. I have not met and do not know Brake, Brown or Sharp, so I can’t speak to their mindset, intent or position on this. But in today’s environment, I certainly can picture figures with a political agenda intentionally violating Title IX to try to fight to have it changed or invalidated in court. Not only would such a course of action negatively impact many of our students and their families, it would put a national spotlight on our city and schools as being against LGBT people. I believe and hope our community would not want that to be our reputation.