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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Boyd: Protecting children isn’t really what this is about

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Last week I wrote about a committee hearing on Senate Bill 167, Education Matters. In that column, I wrote about a couple of mothers who voiced their support of the bill and some of their comments, but those two moms weren’t the only ones who supported the bill. Plenty of moms, dads and educators expressed support for SB 167. A common thread among all of them was they supported the bill because it protected the children.

Ah, yes, the smokescreen of protecting the children.

Who doesn’t want to protect the children? To come out and boldly state you don’t care about children is not only political suicide, but you’ll be practically shunned from polite society. You must state you are for children although your actions don’t have to align with that statement at all. Like most things in this country, we pay lip service to protecting children.

Well, the people who provided testimony want to do more than talk about it. They want to be about it. Be about what, though, is the question. They’re all about protecting children from hurt feelings and pornographic books that are rampant in school libraries. You read that right. School libraries are filled with pornographic materials. I was shocked to hear this as I don’t remember that ever being the case when I went to school in Indiana. Granted that was some time ago, and things change, but I don’t recall my children ever bringing home material I deemed pornographic. Maybe my standards are low, but school librarians are pretty diligent about choosing non-pornographic material.

What I soon discovered is this so-called pornographic material often dealt with themes such as gender and sexuality, which made some parents uncomfortable. Since the material made parents uncomfortable, it was labeled inappropriate. Now, the parental thing to do is have a conversation with your child about why you don’t think this book is appropriate, but that would expose the truth of how the parents really feel. This is what they don’t want. They don’t want to be exposed for being hypocrites, and they don’t want to have tough conversations with their children, so instead, they go after the low-hanging fruit of banning books all in the name of protecting children.

It’s the same deal when it comes to discussing issues of race in the classroom. These parents don’t want their children’s feelings hurt about the past. No one is asking children to feel guilt about a past they can’t change. Again, parents don’t want to be uncomfortable. They don’t want to deal with their true feelings.

Parents are scapegoating children to hide their racism, homophobia and transphobia.

And let’s be real honest here, it’s not all children they’re really trying to protect. It’s white children, who are viewed as the default. Black children aren’t even on the radar.

If these parents — or anyone for that matter — truly wants to protect children, there’s a lot that could be done. In Marion County, 19.4% of children under 18 live in poverty. Surveyors for the 2021 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count, which provides a snapshot of the homeless population in Marion County, found nine minors were unaccompanied and another 268 children were with family.

In total, about 15% of the homeless population are children. About 208,000 Indianapolis residents live in a food desert, according to data from SAVI at the Polis Center at IUPUI.

For those who are serious about protecting children, I’d say these are good places to start. But society doesn’t really care about those children because we don’t care about their (poor) parents.

The parents didn’t make the “right choices” and the children carry the burden of those “bad decisions,” but I digress.

Granted, these issues are often outside of school, although the fallout from these issues comes into the schoolhouse every day. If we want to bring it back into the school, how about protecting kids from bullying and school shootings. I mentioned last week the Center Grove parent who didn’t want her children learning critical race theory, but just a few short weeks ago a Center Grove student wore blackface to mock a Black student. Shouldn’t schools educate on why blackface is wrong and protect another student from having a similar experience? I would think the mom from Noblesville wants her children protected from another school shooting. If we’re going to talk protecting children, all children, let’s have that conversation and include topics that will make a difference.

But protecting all children isn’t what this is about.

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