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Pamela Foley's unfair lies

While almost all of the San Jose City Council provided thoughtful comments extoling inclusiveness (with which we agree) at the October 24 City Council meeting, Councilmember Pam Foley broke form and delivered a dishonest, dissembling, hate-filled rant against Informed Parents. We break down her many falsehoods in the following analysis. Video of her wild comments are available on the City’s YouTube Page

Lie #1: We are attacking teachers Foley quote: "{Referring to our brochures} One says, “your children are at risk!” {And it} talks about teachers indoctrinating children... this is an attack on our teachers." Councilmember Foley might want to spend a little time researching, as we have, how curriculum gets chosen for our children at public schools. Administrators make the decisions, teachers don't. So when parents want to opt their child out of a book that they think is hypersexualized, pornographic, and age-inappropriate, their beef is with school administrators, not teachers. As a result, we have always been careful to communicate to our supporters that the group they need to advocate with is not our hard-working teachers, who are simply doing their jobs as directed by their administrations, but rather it’s the administrators that make the book choices for those teachers. Our material has never attacked teachers.

Lie #2: Our language is full of hidden, coded messaging Foley quote: "These flyers contain misinformation and hateful dog whistles that target our LGBTQ community. Language such as “prey” and “indoctrination” perpetuates hateful and untrue myths about LGBTQ people." There's an old joke that goes like this: "If you hear the dog whistle, perhaps you're the dog." Consider that as background, and understand that Foley's bizarre, creative reading of our metaphors and idioms reads more like the paranoid fantasies of an internet chat room than that of a serious, fair-minded reviewer. Never, never does our material suggest that anybody is "preying" on anybody else--rather than school districts have "fallen prey" to misguided theories that diminish the potential negative impact of highly sexualized, pornographic material on young minds, and are normalizing--or "indoctrinating"--the school community into thinking that there is no place or avenue for parents to challenge that kind of content. We have heard this "dog whistle" charge before, and it usually means that the person making the charge can't find content that supports their preferred conclusion, so instead they suggest that bizarre meanings are lurking in typeface, line breaks, and distorted interpretations of idiom.

Lie #3: Tragic and urgent health issues for LGBTQ youth stem from lack of access to certain books No fair-minded person or parent can avoid the concern about disturbingly high rates of mental health issues affecting LGBTQ youth and teens. It is a serious and urgent concern for us and all caring parents. But Foley, in a wild bit of logical gymnastics, suggests that parents opting their children out of certain highly sexualized, pornographic, age-inappropriate books is somehow at the root of this mental health crisis This is an absurd, baseless charge and Foley offers zero—absolutely zero--evidence to support. Perhaps if Foley and her staff did their homework, they would realize that the most current, accepted science stresses that the opposite may be true, and that perhaps the repeated viewing of highly sexualized, age-inappropriate material may be contributing to these mental health issues. Scientists note that: (1) "the minds of children under 18 are largely impressionable and moldable." (2) That repeated viewing of highly sexualized material can have negative biological and mental health impact and can "significantly impact a child's development and long-term social and emotional skills." (3) The results can be the normalization of unhealthy sexist attitudes, gender roles, gender domination, and controlling behavior. {1, 2, 3: "A Child's Brain on Porn: The Dangers and Damages}

Lie #4: Parents are aware of their opt-out rights, so IP-SV is unnecessary Foley quote: "By the way, parents have always had an opportunity to opt-out, so giving them the information in this vile method is inappropriate and totally unnecessary." We suppose that means that Foley opposes all Civics classes because people have no need to learn about their rights and responsibilities as citizens. The truth of the matter is that School Administrators do not inform parents of their rights to opt out (or "opportunity" in Foley-speak). And this is why Informed Parents exists--to let parents know what their rights are. On the day that all parents are aware of their rights to opt out and fully understand how to implement them, we will gladly fold up our tent. But until then, Informed Parents is a vital communication channel to parents who are unaware of the choices they can explore.

A final thought. Here's one thing that Foley said that we 100% agree with: "In our community, in our classrooms, we need to be teaching understanding, not ignorance, inclusivity, not divisiveness, and acceptance, not hatred." We only wish Foley would follow her own principles and quit using lies and hate-speech to otherize and demonize people she disagrees with--even when those people are simply exerting their First Amendment rights to inform parents about how they can be responsible stewards of their children's education.

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