Board of Commissioners votes to protect childhood innocence in Ottawa County
Published July 18, 2023
Written by Madison
Photography by Simply American
“The future of Ottawa County relies on the health and well-being of its children and young people. Children are our greatest treasure and our most valuable population. We must always weigh the risk of harm to children in public policy decisions.” —Vice-Chair Sylvia Rhodea
Resolution On Protecting Childhood Innocence
At the June 27, 2023 Ottawa County Board of Commissioners meeting, Vice-Chair Sylvia Rhodea moved to adopt a resolution expressing support for protecting childhood innocence.
The Resolution to Protect Childhood Innocence reads as follows:
WHEREAS, the future of Ottawa County relies on the health and well-being of its children and young people; and
WHEREAS, children are our greatest treasure, and our most vulnerable population. We must always weigh the risk of harm to children in public policy decisions; and
WHEREAS, as Thomas Sowell expressed, “There are no perfect solutions, there are only trade-offs,” and
WHEREAS, we value integrity and excellence and will not trade the innocence of children for other governmental goals: and
WHEREAS, protecting the innocence of children is an issue of concern for all adults; and
WHEREAS, adults and children are increasingly over-sexualized in our nation, state, and county; and
WHEREAS, Ottawa County has experienced an increase in criminal sexual assault cases, with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department investigating or reviewing 1,050 criminal sexual conduct and child abuse cases in 2022, with 260 child victims referred to the Children’s Advocacy Center; and
WHEREAS, the exposure to and normalization of sexualized behaviors reduces children’s inhibitions and ability to protect themselves from the sexual advances of others; and
WHEREAS, children learn from observing and subsequently acting out the behaviors they have observed. Children who have observed sexualized behaviors or who have been the victim of sexual assault may act out with other children at home or school, which may lead to additional child victims; and
WHEREAS, the normalization of sexualized behaviors and content to children is not in the long-term interest of children or society. Wholesome, good, and honorable content and activities should be promoted to children instead.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners is committed to protecting the innocence of children, and to cultivating healthy children, families, communities, and institutions; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, no county staff or resources shall be allocated to activities, programs, events, content, or institutions which support, normalize, or encourage the sexualization of children and youth; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Board encourages individuals and communities to promote the good and the honorable to children rather than the normalization of sexual behaviors, protecting the health and wellbeing of our children and the future of our county.
Vice-Chair Rhodea Provides A Statement
After tendering the motion, Rhodea shared her statement of support for the resolution:
“I’m asking my colleagues tonight to pass the Resolution to Protect Childhood Innocence.
Both the Grand Haven Pride Festival and Holland Pride recently celebrated LGBTQ+, with children handing tip money to drag queens at a drag event in Grand Haven. The Ottawa County Health Department and several aligned organizations were in attendance as vendors.
It’s time to define the ‘plus’ [of LGBTQ+].
Over 50 different flags are flown under the LGBTQ+ flag. Which groups may fall under the ‘plus?’ Examples include: furries (those who dress as furry animals and may use litter boxes), polyamory (also known as polygamy), bestiality, and pedophiles, or as they’re now called, MAPs (Minor Attracted Persons)—perhaps that name is more palatable.
Are there any boundaries to the ‘plus?’ Are we promoting and supporting all activities under the ‘plus?’ Will we continue to support a ‘plus’ with no limits?
Within the LGB community there are many who do not support all that the flag has come to represent, especially when it comes to protecting children.
There has been a slow march to sexualize children with a recent push from MDE and Michigan ISDs to teach little ones about the concept of consent at school.
The sexualization of children is not new. It started with Kinsey of the Kinsey Institute who used pedophile-based studies of babies and children as supposed evidence that little ones are sexual from birth and should therefore not be deprived of the expression or the exploration of sexuality from birth, with or without another individual.
Libs of TikTok exposed our own Ottawa County Health Department nationally in 2022 for their parent guide on infant and child sexuality—that had included similar messaging—which the Health Department had used at least since 2019.
Our Health Department has advised school districts on implementing radical comprehensive sexuality education and has used results from the intrusive, over-the-top, sexualized YAS survey [Youth Assessment Survey] as a justification for doing so. A student told me this last year, his class either refused to take the survey altogether, or purposefully answered the over-the-top questions falsely.
In the past, the Ottawa Youth Sexual Health Coalition—administered by our Health Department—recruited teens through their Facebook page to work with MOASH (Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health) which promotes comprehensive sexuality education, which is over-the-top radical sexuality education, and abortion without parental consent.
Returning back to the resolution, the future of Ottawa County relies on the health and well-being of its children and young people.
Children are our greatest treasure and our most valuable population. We must always weigh the risk of harm to children in public policy decisions.
Taxpayer-funded government bureaucracy should not be utilized for the promotion of a sexuality agenda to children. Instead, we need to protect children from the use of local government to support and push this agenda. The Resolution to Protect Child Innocence commits to doing so. I urge my fellow commissioners to join me in passing this resolution.”
Board Chair Addresses Concerns
Commissioner Zylstra expressed concern regarding the resolution statement that addresses staff and resources. “Do we have a list of activities, programs, events, content, or institutions which support, normalize, encourage the sexualization of children or youth, that our resources and staff could not be allocated towards?”
Board Chair Joe Moss responded, “I don’t think there could be one [a list] created today that would be sufficient for the future.” He added, “Events and activities will be brought up and considered at that time.”
“Looks to me like the resolution language stands on its own pretty well,” Moss continued. “If there are events, content, institutions that support the sexualization of kids, then this Board, if this passes, or if it doesn’t, should stand against it.”
“I guess what staff will say is that they aren’t allocating anything towards activity in programs, events, content, institutions… right now,” Zylstra said. “So, if there is something you have in mind, I think it would be fair for them to know ahead of time which… to avoid.”
Commissioner Roger Bergman asked, “Who gets to decide what the well-being of our children looks like? From the looks of this resolution, it looks like you, the government, gets to make the determination.”
“If parents would like to make determinations for their kids, I think that’s great,” Moss replied. “As a board, and as a county, we make determinations not for parents, but for county resources. That’s our job, and that’s what we are elected to do.”
Commissioners Express Support
Commissioner Roger Belknap remarked how few things in this world are as valuable as childhood innocence. He went on to say, ”I agree with Commissioner Rhodea that we’re seeing a slow normalization of adult/child sexual relationships. These boundaries, between adults and children, that exist in nature, are in place for a reason.“
“When trust is breached, there is in fact harm to the child,” Belknap added. “So I think setting guidance for this organization is highly important, and what we’ve been asked to do as a board.”
Commissioner Allison Miedema shared her thoughts. “I personally believe that the resolutions can set direction, and it’s our promise to the people.”
Miedema continued, “I think most of us know, but early exposure to sexualized material, actions, or events has devastating consequences on self-esteem, mental health, addictions, risky behavior, later relationships that often involve abuse by a partner, incarceration, and broken families.”
“There are things that all adults can do to work together to protect the innocence of kids and youth.” Miedema concluded, “And, when we work together to protect their innocence, we can promote a healthy society for generations to come.”
The Resolution to Protect Childhood Innocence passed nine to two.
Yes: Commissioners Rhodea, Cosby, Ebel, Moss, Belknap, Curran, Bonnema, Terpstra, and Miedema
No: Commissioners Zylstra and Bergman