We Must Fight the Sexualization of Children by Adults
Childhood used to be a time
of innocence. But as our culture has become more and more sexualized, children
have become the casualties of adult exploitation.
The New York Times just
reported that more than 45 million online photos and videos of children being
sexually abused were reported by tech companies, more than double what they
found the previous year.
In culture, education, and
health care, American children also are increasingly targeted for sexual
messages, images, and themes at younger ages. Sometimes, this is even supported
by taxpayer money through government-led initiatives.
Our culture is saturated with
sexual content that was once considered too risqué for children, and social
media has accelerated the spread of pornography to young viewers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that in the United
States, 42% of children between 10 and 17 have viewed pornography online.
Social media also has become prime hunting ground for sex traffickers. In March 2019, Instagram was reportedly the leading social media platform for child grooming by sexual predators.
A recent poll of 2,000 teens
found that nearly 75% had received pornographic direct messages from strangers,
even if they had a private account. And 55% of victims of sex trafficking in 2015 met their abuser through a
website, app, or text.
The sexualization of children
is occurring in brick-and-mortar spaces too as “drag queen story hours,” in
which cross-dressing adult entertainers interact with children in
taxpayer-funded local libraries, have appeared across the country.
In education, the United
Nations promotes Comprehensive Sexual Education around the world. In America,
groups such as Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign, and the Gay, Lesbian,
and Straight Education Network promote “comprehensive”
sexual education, which includes instruction about homosexual practices, transgender
theory, and abortion.
Colorado mandates such
curriculum for students in elementary school and recently considered stripping
away parental opt-out provisions.
Sexual orientation and gender
identity curriculum is not limited to sex education. California, New Jersey,
and Illinois passed laws
requiring schools to teach about the “political, social, and economic
contributions of … lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people,” which
frequently include dubious assertions about the sexual orientation or gender
identity of historical figures that are irrelevant to their achievements.
The House of Representatives
recently passed the Equality Act, which would amend Title IV of the Civil
Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected
characteristics. This curriculum could be required if the Equality Act were to
The Department of Education
under the Obama administration pressured schools to implement transgender
policies that pose risks to children’s privacy and safety. In Georgia, Pascha Thomas’
5-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted in a restroom at an elementary
school that adopted a gender identity-based access policy without notifying
Efforts to expose children to
age-inappropriate content and make parental notification and opt-out difficult
or impossible undermine parents’ constitutional right to control their
children’s education on sensitive topics such as human sexuality. Public
schools should not become a place where children are exposed to radical sexual
Finally, the increased
prevalence of transgender ideology in culture and education has narrowed the
treatment options for children with gender dysphoria.
Transgender activists pressure both doctors and parents to consent to “gender-affirming medical treatment” for children who otherwise likely would grow to accept their bodies. Such treatment typically starts with puberty blockers at age 8, cross-sex hormones at 14, and genital surgery for boys as young as 17. In one case, a 13-year-old girl was given a double mastectomy.
The detrimental side effects of hormones, such as increased depression, loss of bone density, and sterility, are well-known. Yet 15 states have banned counseling for gender-dysphoric children that would help them become comfortable with their biological sex.
The Equality Act, if passed,
would make medical professionals liable to lawsuits for gender identity
discrimination if they declined to do “sex reassignment” procedures on
children, regardless of conscientious objection or best medical judgment.
The Trump administration
reversed policies under the Obama administration that created the same
liabilities, but parents continue to find that the medical system and the legal
system are working against them. In Ohio, a couple lost custody
of their daughter because they refused to allow her to take testosterone.
Combating the premature
sexualization of children by adults requires focused attention from both lawmakers
and courageous parents.
On Wednesday, Oct. 9, The Heritage Foundation and Family Policy Alliance will co-host a Summit on Protecting Children from Sexualization to examine these issues in-depth. The summit also will debut the National Parents Resource Guide on the Transgender Trend. RSVP for the event or watch the livestream here.