With 2023 state legislative sessions in full swing, Nebraska continues to be an important battleground where legislators, concerned citizens and expert witnesses are pushing back against the extremism of the sexual left wing.
Two bills addressing transgender issues have recently received committee hearings in Nebraska’s unicameral (one-house) legislature. LB 574, the “Let Them Grow Act,” would prohibit “gender altering procedures,” such as the use of puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones or “gender altering surgery,” upon anyone under the age of 19. LB 575, the “Sports and Spaces Act,” would require that restrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams be divided on the basis of biological sex at birth, not self-selected psychological “gender identity.”
In 2021 and 2022, the battle was over sex education.
Normally, a policy debate in the Nebraska Board of Education would not draw attention from a paper in the nation’s capital 1200 miles away. But last summer, it became the subject of a 4,000-word article in the Washington Post.
Why? It happened because defenders of so-called “comprehensive sexuality education” (CSE)—which would have been implemented under new sex ed standards proposed in Nebraska—were stung by the charge that CSE “grooms” children for sex. (“Claim that sex ed ‘grooms’ kids jolted Nebraska politics a year before it swept the nation”).
For example, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts called the proposed CSE standards “Grooming 101.” He was repeating a charge made by Dr. Sue Greenwald, a retired Nebraska pediatrician and expert in child abuse, who had warned that lessons following these standards would be “‘grooming’ children to be sexual victims.”
In 2021, the Protect Nebraska Children Coalition (PNCC), with advice and technical support from Family Watch International, successfully pushed back against the proposed new health education standards. Fortunately, after lengthy debate, the proposed new standards were indefinitely postponed by the Nebraska State Board of Education.
So what does this have to do with the Washington Post? They commissioned a team of journalists to discredit those who successfully stopped the new standards and to debunk any claims that CSE constitutes sexual grooming of children. One reporter even traveled to Nebraska and hounded leaders of the Protect Nebraska Children Coalition to ask them “gotcha” questions clearly designed to discredit them. But they failed.
To “groom” is defined in the dictionary as “to get into readiness” or “to prepare.” In the context of minors and sex, the term “grooming” has been used to describe behaviors that do not involve direct sexual contact, but which prepare the child to engage in sexual activity.
The Post, though, described the issue this way:
The term “groomer” has become a catchall epithet hurled by the right wing against the left, particularly against advocates for LGBT people, who have become the target of a recent surge in violent threats and attacks. The Post’s examination focused on the specific claim that modern sex education — including lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity — makes children more vulnerable to pedophiles.
In only two sentences, the Post is off base in three respects. The “groomer” charge is not limited to LGBT issues; has nothing to do with violence; and is not limited to “pedophiles” in the traditional sense.
The term came to prominence in 2022 during the debate over Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill.
However, the Post reached back further, identifying use of the term in the 2021 Nebraska debate—and even earlier in the writings and speeches of the late Dr. Judith Reisman, author of several books about the notorious sex researcher Alfred Kinsey.
There is not one clear-cut and universally recognized definition of sexual “grooming.” No one is claiming that every teacher who presents sex ed lessons in schools is a pedophile who is personally intent on molesting children.
However, Sharon Slater, President of Family Watch, told the Washington Post that “an alarming number of popular CSE programs utilize the same techniques often used by pedophiles to sexualize children or groom children to engage in sex.”
For example, a 2015 federal appeals court opinion said that “grooming refers to the deliberate actions taken … to expose a child to sexual activity,” with one goal being the “reduction of the child’s inhibitions in order to prepare the child for sexual activity.”
A fact sheet from RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) also lists “grooming” activities—some of which correspond with what happens in CSE:
Family Watch International has a list of 15 Harmful Elements of CSE, and several of them correspond to “grooming” activities:
If the Post sought to discredit the now deceased Judith Reisman, champion of protecting children from grooming and CSE, or the PNCC, they seem to have failed there too. Dr. Alfred Kinsey, a man who has been called the father of the sexual rights revolution, founded the Kinsey Institute which provides sex “research” to support CSE today. But the Post article notes that Reisman’s prolific critiques of Kinsey led the Kinsey Institute to acknowledge that he had relied on a pedophile’s sexual diary for his published data on child sexuality. The Post also confirmed some of the PNCC’s charges—that in one CSE curriculum, “teachers can discuss options for teenagers who want to use birth control without their parents’ knowledge,” and that orgasm and masturbation are topics discussed in the lessons (the latter in seventh grade).
Meanwhile, the article’s lengthy description of the political activism of the PNCC only showed that these mothers and fathers and grandparents were wildly successful—first against the CSE standards, and then with its PAC in nominating or electing candidates to school boards and Republican Party committees at both the local and state levels. This is democracy at its best.
The Post reporters, who also interviewed Sharon Slater extensively, seemed to want to paint Family Watch and the parents FWI assisted in stopping CSE in Nebraska as misguided disciples of Dr. Reisman.
However, parents in Nebraska, or anywhere for that matter, do not need a professor like Reisman or a child protection advocate like Greenwald to tell them that the explicit sexual content in many CSE programs is highly inappropriate for their children. The harmful elements are self-evident.
The longstanding concern of parents about explicit sex ed in schools has always been that children too young for sex are being prepared for various forms of sex through comprehensive sexuality education.
And that concern is neatly summarized in one word—“grooming.”
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