By Brittany Jones, Esq., policy manager for Family Policy Alliance
Sitting in the majority of coffeeshops across America, you will likely hear someone complain about politicians who can’t set aside party politics to get anything worthwhile done. However, our state ally, Minnesota Family Council, proved that it is possible to work across party lines last week. A Minnesota Family Council-backed bill to help the state more fully understand the link between human trafficking and pornography passed unanimously through both the state House and Senate!
Strong criminal laws against human trafficking are not enough. Too often these laws are not enforced, and they do little to stop the demand for trafficked persons.
We need to better understand what drives demand in order to prevent trafficking. Studies are beginning to show that, perhaps unsurprisingly, pornography conditions the brain to dehumanize others, priming users to become sex buyers.
Further, what many people don’t realize is that the subjects in pornographic works are being trafficked or were trafficked as children. However, without clear statistics on what is happening in this illicit trade, it is difficult to convince legislators to take action to end it.
Legislators in ten states have already recognized that pornography is a public health crisis. Minnesota decided to take the next step in the fight to end human trafficking by addressing what drives demand. The bill requires the state to gather data on the link between pornography and human trafficking. The legislation, S.B. 2554, requires that statistics about the use of pornography in human trafficking be added to the state’s already existing human trafficking report, and assesses an additional fine on those convicted of child pornography crimes and the dissemination and display of harmful materials to minors. Any money raised through this additional fine will be given to Minnesota’s Safe Harbor Program, which helps victims of human trafficking.
There was not a single vote against this bill throughout the legislative process. Meredith Campbell, Public Policy Director for Minnesota Family Council said of the bill signed by the Governor last Friday, “Preventing the commodification of humans is not a partisan issue. Dedicated Minnesotans from a variety of spheres, departments, and professions have been fighting against the sexual exploitation of women, girls, and boys in Minnesota for a long time. The leaders in this fight against sexual exploitation should be applauded today for their steadfast efforts to ensure that women and girls are treated with dignity and respect.”
When both sides come together incredible things can happen. Not everyone believes as we do—that every person is created with inherent dignity and worth, made in the image of God. But even unbelievers can see the need to protect human dignity, even if they don’t understand that that dignity comes from being God’s creation.
Minnesota’s new law is a huge step forward in protecting that inherent dignity and beginning to roll back the scourge of human trafficking and pornography.
If you live in Minnesota, please make sure you are connected with Minnesota Family Council to help with their efforts against human trafficking and pornography in your state.
If Minnesota is not your home state, we hope you’ll partner with Family Policy Alliance and our other state allies to advance legislation similar to Minnesota’s in your states.
The Minnesota Department of Education has just approved a transgender “toolkit” that will be distributed to all public and charter schools in the state.
The toolkit, which was authored by a number of transgender and gay-rights activists, directs schools to stop referring to students with gender-specific pronouns like he, she, him or her. A decision to use a pronoun other than the ones preferred will likely be considered verbal harassment.
It also instructs schools to allow students to use the bathroom or shower facility of whichever sex they identify with, regardless of their actual sex. In a nod to the extreme discomfort that such policies will produce, the toolkit advises schools to make single-user restrooms available—not to accommodate the rare transgender student—but for other students who feel uncomfortable sharing intimate space with a person of the opposite sex.
State Rep. Tim Miller, a 2016 alumnus of the Family Policy Foundation’s Statesmen Academy, took to the airwaves to address the situation on Fox & Friends.
Miller pointed to the hypocrisy of the transgender activists, noting that at one point they criticized him for speaking out against their agenda “since there are only a few (transgender) kids throughout the entire state of Minnesota.” But now they claim that this broad, statewide policy is needed because there are so many transgender students. “Common sense has sort of left the room,” said Miller. You can watch a video of his appearance here.
“Though 67 Minnesota legislators authored a letter urging decision makers to prevent approval and distribution of the toolkit, they were ignored,” said Meredith Campbell, Policy Director for Minnesota Family Council. “This irresponsible, disrespectful decision to ignore legislators’ recommendations is shocking, especially being that gender nonconforming issues remain unsettled in science, the courts and the Minnesota legislature.”
This is not the first time that transgender policy has been in recent Minnesota headlines. In May, we reported that a Minnesota kindergarten incorporated a transgender book, My Princess Boy, into its curriculum. That’s because the parents of a 5 year-old boy—who has long blond braids, dresses in jumpers with tights and identifies as a girl—complained about bullying and asked school officials to proactively teach kindergartners about gender identity.
Family Policy Alliance is working with our state allies throughout the country to protect children’s privacy and uphold parental rights. To support this critical work, please click here.
One school district in Minnesota is feeling the effects of President Obama’s bathroom edict. The school district in Virginia, Minnesota is now facing a lawsuit from 11 parents outraged over the school allowing boys access to girls restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities.
The Minnesota Family Council (MFC), one of Family Policy Alliance’s nearly 40 state-based policy groups, said it’s the responsibility of every parent and school administrator to protect the safety, dignity and privacy of students.
“This common sense responsibility was jeopardized when the Obama Administration issued a baseless transgender mandate in May,” said John Helmberger with MFC, “threatening schools with the loss of federal funding if they choose not to comply. Students in Virginia’s public school system are among those currently facing heartbreaking consequences of such policies due to the administration’s decision to adopt President Obama’s transgender mandate.”
An attorney from Minnesota will represent the families on behalf of Alliance Defending Freedom. Helmberger says the facts of the case will show that the policy is a burden on the majority of students in the school and presents a danger them.
“The recent lawsuit filed by Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of a parent-student group demonstrates many Minnesotans’ desire to ensure common sense privacy rights for every student,” he said. “This lawsuit gives parents an opportunity to hold Virginia, Minnesota public schools accountable for a serious responsibility that they’ve abandoned – the safety and privacy of all students.
Lawmakers in Minnesota are considering positive approaches to key issues. John Helmberger shares how bills concerning life and privacy are getting some traction. Stuart Shepard interviewed the CEO of the Minnesota Family Council at our ally’s headquarters in Minneapolis.