mncpl

The Minnesota Child Protection League was founded in 2013 by a half-dozen politically-connected conservative Christian women. The name suggests that the group is committed to protecting children; indeed the group’s mission says it exists to “protect all children from exploitation, indoctrination and violence.” In almost two years of existence, however, the group’s main activity appears to be to block laws and policies that make LGBT youth safer. That’s even more evident given the lack of attention the group has given to a half-dozen child protection bills currently pending at the Minnesota Legislature.

In late 2013 and early 2014, the group tried to “protect children” from a bill that made Minnesota’s anti-bullying laws among the most comprehensive in the United States. Much of the group’s objection was to the bill’s inclusion of LGBT students. MNCPL warned that including LGBT students in the bill — along with more than a dozen other student characteristics such as disability, economic status, and ethnicity — would result in the “exploitation” of Minnesota’s youth.

“In our society where children are being sexualized, homosexuality normalized, and the list of genders has grown from two to LGBTQQIA and that is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and counting,” MNCPL’s Barb Anderson told a Tea Party group in early 2014, “[The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act] contains language that will usher in another sexual revolution, sexual anarchy, unrestricted sexuality to love whoever you want — polyamory — and its going to force its acceptance on all of us.”

By late 2014, the group was trying to “protect children” from their transgender peers by attempting to block a Minnesota State High School League policy that allows transgender athletes to participate based on their gender. MNCPL took out a full page ad in the Star Tribune and other Minnesota papers that warned parents that transgender students might shower with their children. They rallied hundreds to the MSHSL offices, and conducted dozens of media interviews speaking out against the policy.

These have been the group’s only high-profile efforts to date. In the end, these policies were adopted despite MNCPL’s lobbying. And despite these battles having a definite anti-LGBT flavor, members of MNCPL have repeatedly said that the organization isn’t anti-LGBT.

“That’s the way the other side likes to portray us, you know. In fact, they portray us as the anti-LGBT Child Protection League,” Michele Lentz told a radio station in late-2014. “They don’t refer to us as the anti-child trafficking protection league. They don’t refer to us as the anti-child exploitation protection league, which if you go to our website is clear we are involved in these issues.” She added, “My organization doesn’t take a position on LGBT.”

Lentz complained that her organization has been unfairly characterized, so The Column reached out to see what, if anything, the Child Protection League was doing about child protection at the Legislature. The Column asked because there is a lot of activity happening at the Capitol around child protection.

A bill to “complete and operate an emergency shelter facility for East African women and child victims of domestic abuse and trafficking” was introduced on Feb. 5.

A bill to study “study the nature, scope, and prevalence of violence against Asian women and children in Minnesota, including domestic violence, trafficking, international abusive marriage, stalking, sexual assault, and other violence” was offered on Jan. 26.

A bill to establish a “grant program to serve Asian women and children and others at risk of being homeless who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, international abusive marriage, or a forced marriage” was offered on Jan. 26.

There’s even a trio of bills the media are calling “child protection reform” bills. They’ve been offered in response to the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection which recently released its results. All of this is in response to the death of 4-year-old Eric Dean last year. He died as a result of abuse by his caregiver even though authorities had been alerted to the abuse.

All six of these bills have bi-partisan support. The the first three are bringing together some unlikely characters. Authored by Rep. Karen Clark, a DFLer from Minneapolis and the nation’s longest serving lesbian lawmaker, it also has the support of Rep. Tony Cornish, a ferociously conservative Republican from Vernon Center who famously advocated arming school staff to stop school shootings.

The Child Protection League did not return a request for comment. A survey of the group’s website and social media have turned up nothing about these bills. There have been no email alerts, no social media mentions, no newspaper advertisements, no radio interviews, and no rallies in support of these important child protection bills.

However, over the last two weeks, while lawmakers and the media have announced these proposals and debate has begun, the Minnesota Child Protection League has been busy at work behind the scenes.

On Sunday night, the group launched a new website: 50ShadesThePledge.com. The website reads: “50 Shades of Grey, which hits theaters on Valentine’s Day, draws young people into countless lies and extremely dangerous ideas that could ruin their lives… Your children and grandchildren need your protection. There is a war raging to steal their innocence, and the latest assault is ‘50 Shades of Grey.'”

The group sent out an urgent email alert last Monday. But it didn’t rally supporters of child protection to the Minnesota Capitol to demand quick action on six important child protection, anti-exploitation, and anti-trafficking bills. It rallied them to a school board meeting in Anoka.

The Anoka-Hennepin School Board is currently evaluating a set of anti-bullying policies, one of which contains provisions for LGBT inclusion in the district’s schools. The email from MNCPL, titled “Are you a bully?” labeled LGBT people (and presumably LGBT students) as dangerous, offensive, and unsafe:

Minnesota’s largest school district, Anoka-Hennepin (A-H), is now considering its precedent-setting Anti-Bullying directives from their Anti-Bullying Task Force. Their proposed recommendations to the School Board say that you must honor, affirm, and celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender activities in the school…[I]t forces allegiance to a strident and dangerous political and social agenda…The promoters of this “diversity” are making every effort to force their personal creed upon us all, regardless if that creed is deeply offensive… Before the 2014 Minnesota Bullying Bill passed, Child Protection League Action blew the whistle about its intent, that the proposed legislation wasn’t about bullying. Rather, its purpose was to indoctrinate our children and our community into affirming and celebrating all sexual activities, no matter how unsafe.

It seems the Child Protection League is content to spend its donors’ money on a continued assault on LGBT youth, and now, apparently, Hollywood. If the group was serious about child protection, there are at least six bills at the Minnesota Legislature that deserve their own website and a coordinated campaign of email alerts, media interviews, and newspaper advertisements. If lawmakers find that these bills are stagnating at the Capitol and wanted to generate the attention of the MNCPL and their army of conservative Christians, they could simply slip in the letters “LGBT.” That seems to be the only thing that receives their attention.

The Column is a community-supported non-profit news, arts, and media organization. We depend on community support to continue the work of solid LGBT-centric journalism. If you like this article, consider visiting Give MN to make a contribution today.

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