I read the recent piece on the The Mind Polluters Documentary which ran in the August 25th Edition of the Wahoo Newspaper. The piece, authored by Carson Vaughan, portrays the film as anti-teacher, anti-education, and baseless in its accusations. It prompted me to watch the film because it portrayed the film as so inaccurate and divisive that I was concerned it made wild and dishonest claims which when far beyond reality. This concerned me because I don’t like to see conservative media and conservatives overstate the case against progressive liberal ideologies. The simple truth is enough.
I was able to get a Mind Polluters DVD so I could watch it for myself, and I found that it was Vaughan’s piece which made the inaccurate and divisive claims.
Because the Wahoo Newspaper chose to run that piece, I thought it was incumbent to run a piece which helped clarify the inaccuracies in Vaughan’s piece and which helped put other aspects in context. I reached out to the editor of the Wahoo Newspaper, Susie Nelson, via email and by telephone, but she did not respond to my efforts to contact with her. Therefore, I have turned my response into a blog. Hopefully you will share this with others.
While I had heard of The Mind Polluters, I chose not to watch it until now. Prior to seeing Vaughan’s piece, I suspected that the only thing the documentary was likely to do for me was two things: It would have presented a lot of ideas and facts of which I am already familiar, and it may have caused me to fall into confirmation bias, which is something I always try to avoid.
Before I watched Mind Polluters, I reread the piece by Mr. Vaughan in order to pinpoint the main message of the piece. As evidenced by the headline, the main message was that the documentary’s claims were baseless. That is the main claim, but I’ll mention additional claims below.
According to Stephanie Nantkes, the mother of one of ACLU of Nebraska’s former Executive Directors, there was “not one fact behind what they were saying”. According to Nantkes, Mind Polluters was not only making baseless claims, it was publishing outright lies. Lies about what? Apparently lies about teachers and public education. I glean this from the fact that Nantkes said that the lies were about what she has “loved her entire life”, so it was easy to see that her 40-year career in public education was the object of what she perceived as lies.
Vaughan gets a little more specific about the falsehoods that he and others identify in the film. It seems that the main point of contention is that the film’s producer believes that public schools are grooming children to become sexual victims of child sex predators. While it is no secret that far too many public school children fall victim to sexual predation at the hands of their teachers, coaches, and others who work in public education each year, one would naturally be skeptical about a claim that public schools are actually grooming America’s children for sexual exploitation. Mind Polluters does not claim that America’s public school teachers are groomers.
In addition to Ms. Nantkes, Vaughan cites the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) and the Nebraska State Education Association (the state teachers’ union) in his piece. Both of these organizations believe the documentary “has no basis in reality”. The president of the teachers’ union stated, “the movie is pure propaganda” and went on to say that the documentary’s “baseless claims” are bad for schools, teachers, and society.
To the contrary Vaughan cites a Creighton University professor (Jill Brown), who referenced “many studies” showing that the sexual abuse of children can be reduced when schools teach comprehensive sexual education.
What are the other specific “falsehoods” in the documentary? According to Vaughan, there are two:
1) The documentary is wrong about the claim that human DNA is either male or female due to a United Nations report which states that 1.7% of the world’s population is born with intersex traits.
2) Transgenderism is the result of trauma, confusion, or whimsy because “numerous studies” have shown otherwise.
The NDE’s public information officer believes that the documentary is contributing to hard times for teachers.
Let’s walk through the critique offered by Vaughan and the others mentioned in the piece to see if their conclusions and opinions can survive their own standards.
First, we should address the quote from Ms. Nantkes: Is there at least one fact for the claims in the documentary? Well, that depends on the claims in the documentary. Are the claims as Ms. Nantkes and the NDE’s public information officer allege, anti-teacher, anti-public education, or that the claims are bad for society?
These are not the claims of the documentary, therefore, it is unfortunate that Nantkes, the NDE, and the state’s teachers’ union avoid the point of the documentary which is obvious and laid out for them very clearly.
Mind Polluters draws on examples and facts from all over the country which do not claim to describe anything currently happening in Nebraska’s public schools. The whole point of the documentary is to emphasize the concern and the belief that there are people who want to sexualize children, and that these people are working very hard to introduce very dangerous ideas, curriculum, programs, and pedagogy into our K-12 schools. While the people behind the documentary believe these people have been at work a very long time, we are just beginning to see the bitter fruits of their work quite recently. The point is that if parents and educators recognize this threat now, it should be much easier to keep it from taking root everywhere, especially in Nebraska, where we have not seen much of this, until recently.
This effort has reared its ugly head in the following ways in Nebraska in recent years, most notably:
1. The Lincoln Public Schools tried to introduce it (the purple penguin incident).
2. The Omaha Public Schools did adopt a very disturbing comprehensive sexual education curriculum a few years later.
3. The NDE tried very hard to adopt terribly immoral Health Education Standards in the spring of 2021.
In the spring of 2021, parents and grandparents across the state had finally seen enough. At that point they began to speak up and many people saw for the first time, that the NDE was intentionally or unintentionally laying the groundwork for ideas, curriculum, programs, and pedagogy, which could be used to sexualize Nebraska’s K-12 children statewide.
More localized incidents also cause concern, such as when a teacher bans all religious connections to Christmas such as the Elkhorn elementary school incident several years ago, or when teachers have encouraged students to choose their own pronouns as we have seen in several schools over the past few years.
While some of Nebraska’s teachers may be supportive of some of the ideas promoted by people who want to sexualize children, I doubt any of them want to sexualize children. That statement may seem confusing at first glance, but I encourage you to read it again, because this is the same approach Mind Polluters uses in their documentary. Teachers aren’t the villains, nor are Nebraska’s school administrators or boards. Most of Nebraska’s teachers seem to agree that 7th graders do not need to learn about anal sex through classes on sexually transmitted diseases. This was one of the proposed Health Education Standards in the 1st draft of the NDE’s 2021 effort. There were troubling health standards all the way down to kindergarten classes. This even alarmed people who helped the NDE draft the proposed standards, such as this young teacher who helped draft the proposed Health Education Standards, and later wrote to the NDE in which the teacher stated:
“This is (Name Redacted) and I was part of the writing team for the Health standards. This email is in regards to the first draft of health standards that was released and I just have a couple of things that have been on my mind since.
First, I don’t know that I can support the human growth and development standards. I don’t recall ever talking about these in any of our meetings or getting a clear look at what was going to be involved. I know I worked a lot with the high school level and that may have been why, but I don’t agree that these are age-appropriate, especially knowing that I have kids of my own those ages.
Second, I am having a hard time with my name sitting behind these. I am proud of the work that everyone did within our group and I specifically know that I was part of the Injury Prevention and Safety group and I don’t want to lose those, but this has made me ill since being released. I have had concerned community members contact me and the school about these. I know that it says on the document that some individuals took PART in the writing standards, but a lot of people don’t know what that means and they think we were all in agreement on everything. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and look forward to hearing from you.”
Although I requested and received thousands of emails regarding the Draft Health Education Standards, I saw no NDE response to this teacher’s email.
The NDE received a large number of emails from other public school teachers and school principals in addition to other professionals such as doctors, counselors, lawyers, law enforcement officers, and retired teachers. They also received emails and input from a large number of concerned parents and grandparents. All of these urged the NDE to stop its efforts to adopt the Health Education Standards in 2021.
The overwhelming negative response to the proposed Health Education Standards frustrated Deborah Neary, who is currently running for reelection to the State Board of Education in District 8, which covers a large portion of Douglas County. In one email on March 11, 2021 (right after the 1st Draft of the Health Educations Standards were released to the public), she commiserated to a well-known radical activist: “FYI—this is disappointing. Ugh. Every school district has to approve it”. In other words, Mrs. Neary was hopeful that the new Health Education Standards would be mandatory for all of Nebraska’s schools. Her opponent this November, Marni Hodgen, believes that parents (primarily) and local schools (to a reasonable degree) through collaboration with parents, must have control over the education of children. Mrs. Neary wants the government and certain approved experts to be making the decisions regarding what Nebraska’s children learn about sex and their own identities. Mrs. Neary’s experts are primarily abortion, LGBT, and race activists.
This would seem to place Deborah Neary in the group of people identified in Mind Polluters, who want to impose radical curriculum, ideology, programs, and pedagogy, on K-12 children.
This would reinforce the claims of Mind Polluters, not refute them. First, many, if not most of Nebraska’s teachers are opposed to the type of information promoted by Deborah Neary, so the focus isn’t on teachers, it is on manipulative politicians and activists. Secondly, this manipulation appears to be starting in Nebraska. Therefore, Mrs, Nantkes claim that the Mind Polluters does not even have one fact to support its claims is itself, baseless. There are many facts, and these facts are all over the thousands of emails and text messages involving the NDE’s Draft Health Education Standards from 2020 through 2021.
What about the film’s “lies about what [Mrs. Nantkes] has loved her entire life”, which appears to be public education and teaching? Is Mind Polluters anti-teacher or anti-public education? This is the perception shared by the NDE and the Nebraska teachers’ union.
I specifically watched the film with an eye and ear open to anything which could reasonably be characterized as anti-teacher or anti-public education. There is some serious concern voiced in the documentary. However, the concern is not over the teachers who are teaching math, science, history, literature, and other fundamental courses. The concern is focused on the organizations who are introducing inaccurate and misleading into schools, such as Planned Parenthood, The Human Rights Campaign (Welcoming Schools), and other powerful and wealthy social justice organizations. In fact, Mind Polluters drew heavily on several teachers who provided much of the content of the documentary. These are teachers who were in the system, spoke truth to power, and were therefore, terminated or ostracized. The film is very supportive of good teachers and understandably critical of substandard teachers who use their role to advocate for social justice at the expense of a quality education.
In other words, Mind Polluters is not anti-teacher or anti-public education, it is very pro-education because the people who produced Mind Polluters obviously want schools and teachers to educate children. They simply do not want schools to recklessly or intentionally indoctrinate children, nor do they want schools to work against the parents of students.
So, to the extent that Mind Polluters says anything about removing children from public schools or says anything critical of any teacher, it has to be understood in the full context of the film. If a school has fallen, or is falling into serving as a social engineering project, parents are wise to remove their children. But that is totally up to the parents. Some parents seem to want their children to be social justice warriors, most don’t. So, to the extent that a teacher is serving as a conduit for the radical ideas addressed by Mind Polluters, the criticism is well-placed. The vast majority of parents want to be the ones to teach their toddlers and pre-teens about faith, morals, virtues, and how to make decisions which will make them stronger, healthier, happier, and safer as they develop into adults. To the extent that a school assists and supports the parent, things work very well. However, when a school or a teacher is pushing ideas and beliefs which are opposed to those of the parents, it causes significant harm to children and their relationship with their family members. Parents don’t want conflicting information coming through school programs and through guest speakers who are strangers, especially when it is done without the parents’ knowledge and consent.
Vaughan’s two alleged inaccuracies in the documentary:
Is the documentary wrong about the claim that human DNA is either male or female? While there are a very small percentage of people born with intersex traits, even those who have the most abnormal conditions such as Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, still have DNA which is either male or female. As far as I know, and I admit that I’m not a scientist or a doctor, there is no DNA which is intersex, or at least science has not yet discovered such intersex DNA. Therefore, based on the science known to us at this time, the documentary is accurate and the critics cited in Vaughan’s piece are once again not accurate.
What about the film’s claim that transgenderism is often the result of trauma, confusion, or whimsy? While there are instances and studies in which transgenderism does not appear to have a cause, is there any science which indicates that transgenderism is genetic or if there is any basic human biological indicator which shows up in transgender people? The answer to this is “no”. And there is an abundance of evidence which supports the position that many people who identify as transgender have experienced trauma prior to such feelings, or they have some other condition such as a mental illness (though I don’t agree with other claims in this particular link), which appears to contribute to their confusion. Recent studies still acknowledge external factors as having a significant impact on a child’s perception of their gender. Finally, the recent increase in young people who identify as transgender, homosexual, or bisexual, does appear to have some relation to the whimsy of youth and the social conditioning many young people experience through social media, the entertainment industry, and the influence of activists such as the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood.
To the contrary, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to indicate that a person’s gender is primarily or significantly biological or has any natural scientific basis. Can any male actually know what it feels like to be a female? Can any female actually know what it feels like to be a male. Can anyone actually tell you what it feels like to be nonbinary or than providing anecdotal evidence of confusion and reaction to external stimuli and factors?
Gender, pronouns, expression, and all other things involved with this, are fundamentally feelings and emotions. And feelings can change, especially in our youth. In fact, the vast majority of youth who identify as transgender in some way, naturally grow to identify as the same gender as their biology by the time they are an adult. Most children “desist” without therapy or counseling to help them identify as the gender consistent with their body. One such study showed that this was the case in 87% of youth who had such feelings and others found desistance as high as 94%. These studies have been criticized by advocates for early hormone use and surgery for young children, but regardless of this criticism, it is obvious that the medical field has a lot more to learn before parents start using their young children as experiments in the shadowy realm of transgender ideology.
As you can see, I’ve done something here which Vaughan did not do. I actually cited sources. I think it is important to point out that one of the primary criticisms of Mind Polluters is that the claims of the Mind Polluters documentary are “baseless” and/or dishonest. I disagree. But even if there is some argument there, the critics of Mind Polluters themselves do not offer their sources for their conclusions.
Even if Mind Polluters did not offer enough sources to satisfy their critics, I have at least shown you the basis for my conclusions and these substantiate the claims of the Mind Polluters documentary. Additionally, Mind Polluters did provide sound sources by interviewing several teachers who were on the front lines, as well as many others who are working within the education industry. Whether it is the absence of something (anti-teacher rhetoric in the film), or the existence of something (the fact that most gender dysphoric youth will no longer suffer from gender dysphoria beyond their teenage years), I have provided the basis for my understanding.
I do this, knowing that for every study and resource I can provide, there are studies and resources which almost certainly say the opposite. Therefore, I’m not saying that my studies or my statistics are right and all others are wrong, I’m simply saying that I actually have a basis for what I believe and you are free to look at things for yourself so you don’t have to take my word for it. This is unlike Mr. Vaughan’s piece in which Creighton University’s Jill Brown simply states that there are “many studies” which support her position, but neither she nor Vaughan tell you where to find the studies she relies upon. Are we supposed to just assume that her studies are not only right but they are unrefuted and irrefutable? What about the unnamed other studies mentioned in Vaughan’s piece? Are we to believe that there are no studies which say that abstinence is the best and safest approach to sex outside of marriage or that many transgender and homosexual youth are actually responding to trauma, mental illness, and indoctrination?
It is one thing to have a bias toward what you already believe is true. It is another thing to speak in absolutes. When you speak in absolutes, it is often an indication that the absolute isn’t really absolute. It is a red flag to check out a person’s sources.
One thing has become abundantly obvious to me over the past many years. There is some sort of immoral creep taking place in Western culture, and our K-12 schools are beginning to fall under the spell. The CDC’s program, Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC), is a visible manifestation of this ominous creep. Is this a school or an autonomous village in which the role of the parents is significantly minimized in favor of all the wisdom and authority of the government run school?
I am grateful that the creep has not yet fully enveloped Nebraska’s schools (though we already have aspects of it here), but unless parents, educators, and society as a whole take control of this now, the warnings of The Mind Polluters will turn into an “I told you so”. That would be a tragedy, and it would mean the end of the Democratic Republic we have all come to know and love.
Therefore, instead of assuming that Mind Polluters is nothing but falsehood, I actually encourage you to watch it and think through all of this yourself. This is what I did. Although I can’t take 100% of the documentary as irrefutable truth, I believe that it is not an attack on teachers or the education system, nor is it bad for society. The fact is, there are many disturbing things going on in education today, and it appears that there are people who are behind the scenes. These people are manipulating the system, the politics, and millions of children.
I would caution you to avoid taking all claims in Mind Polluters as pure and irrefutable truth. But I would caution you from taking the claims of the NDE, the teachers’ union, and especially people like Deborah Neary as honest and unbiased. In some cases, we clearly have cases in which the fox is watching the hen house.
As for Vaughan’s claim that Mind Polluters promotes the idea that our public schools are systematically grooming children to become sexual victims of child sex predators, that is false. I did not see anything in the documentary which suggested either explicitly or implicitly, that this was the film’s message. The message is that people are attempting to use the schools as social engineering centers.
However, I can certainly understand how someone might come away from the film with Vaughan’s conclusions, especially if they are very pro-public education prior to seeing the film, and they were skeptical about the motives of the film. It is important to hear what others say, not to ignore their words and jump to conclusions about their motives and the real meanings of their message. The actual message is that there are people who have and who currently groom children as sexual objects, but for the most part these are not the teachers or the public school system. One such person was obviously Alfred Kinsey. Looking back on Kinsey, he was one of two things, a criminal or a fraud, or more likely, he was a combination of both. Kinsey’s work obviously produced disciples of his interests. It is reasonable to conclude that these “disciples” have become highly effective at using some teachers and public schools as unwitting or reluctant participants in furthering Kinsey’s interests. This could be characterized as grooming such as we see coming through institutions such as Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign who provide books, lesson plans, programs, teacher training, and other resources to schools.
The real message of Mind Polluters is that there are people out there who are manipulating the system and who are influencing things like school textbook content, curriculum, lesson plans, pedagogy, and other aspects of education. Very few of these people are actually teachers in the classroom or administrators in the local school district. Therefore, in most cases, the devious players are not in your local school buildings, it is their influence on unsuspecting people in many school buildings. This is why Mind Polluters was created. Not only is this Mind Polluters not harmful to public schools or to society as a whole as the NDE suggests, it is very good for public schools and society as a whole. The fact that the NDE and the State teachers’ union are so adamantly against Mind Polluters is a red flag warning about the ideology which pervades the leadership of these organizations, and shows just how close this is to overtaking schools even in Nebraska.
Vaughan’s piece and his sources want to keep you unconcerned or ignorant, and it wants to label the average parent as radical or extreme. Is it extreme to believe that schools should focus on educating students on reading, mathematics, science, history, and the arts? Is it radical or extreme to believe that parents are the primary educators of their children in areas of faith & morals? Is it radical or extreme to believe that abstinence from sex before marriage is the safest and surest way to protect from things like sexually transmitted disease, unplanned pregnancy, and the emotional trauma associated with diminished self-respect and the respect of others? Is it extreme to believe that parents can be highly effective, and much more effective than any other resource, at nurturing their own children?
Parents are not the radicals and extremists any more than dedicated teachers and public schools are. In fact, we believe that most teachers, school administrators, parents, and students, would much prefer to focus on actual education and be free from social engineering.
It is unfortunate that the Wahoo Newspaper never responded to my offer to provide a response to Vaughan’s piece. Thank you for reading it here. Please share it.