Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD – Some members of the Fairfield City Council objected to a statement of principles prepared by the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee during the council’s Jan. 10 meeting.
The council was considering whether to approve a resolution adopting a “statement of intent” drafted by the DEI Committee. The resolution is short, fewer than 200 words, less than a page long.
It states the city of Fairfield believes in and stands for the values of “diversity, equity, fairness, inclusion and justice,” and that it condemns discrimination on the basis of “faith, race, sexual orientation, gender, nationality, age, immigration status, military status, class, ability.”
Council member Judy Ham was firmly against the resolution, but did not identify what language in the resolution she objected to.
“I’m going to put on the record that I am totally opposed to this,” Ham began. “We’re putting a few people in charge of monitoring other people’s language, and that goes against all freedom of speech.”
Ham said many families in the community and around Southeast Iowa are paying large amounts of money because their children were exposed to “sexual things way too soon.”
“This isn’t a funny matter – it’s not a simple thing, and it needs to be taken with a lot more grains of salt than what this conversation has been having so far,” Ham said. “I would like the public to know what all this entails, because it gets into the world views, and things beyond just an ordinary conversation. This can affect how someone lives for the rest of their life, and the consequence of all those decisions adding up.”
Later in her remarks, Ham said that “small, young children are being susceptible to perversions now, because it is being shown and being given out by adults, and they don’t have a field to process this stuff. … Do you not weep for the parents who are having to deal with this stuff?”
Ham said she worried about exposing children to subject matter beyond their understanding.
“They’re already in our local library teaching little kids this, preschool kids this,” said Ham, while holding up a copy of the resolution. “It’s already in our schools, and parents are dealing with the fallout. …. This is called grooming, if you don’t know what sex trafficking is. They are getting kids ready to be groomed, and are grooming them on a daily basis, and it’s very perverted. My motion is no, it gets ripped in half, and we say no as a whole city.”
Council member Paul Gandy, who ran the meeting as mayor pro tempore in the absence of Mayor Connie Boyer, read the entire resolution aloud.
“I fail to see how this is advocating sexual trafficking,” Gandy said.
“Because you do not understand the process of grooming,” Ham responded.
“How is this grooming?” Gandy said.
“Grooming is when an adult knows they are exposing a child to things beyond their understanding and taking advantage of that in a friendly manner,” Ham said. “When people in authority over them, and that can include someone they just admire, to things beyond their developmental abilities. …”
Council member Tom Twohill chimed in, saying he understood Ham’s concerns, but asked her to identify what part of the resolution she believed to encourage “grooming.”
“Why should anybody’s language be policed?” Ham responded. “The stuff that we got from DEI says that’s one of their big concerns. Why are we allowing seven people to tell us what language we can use? …. I’m sorry if you can’t see it, but it is here, and it’s saying that all differences are all the same, and they are not the same, and you all know it. You all would be livid if it was your child it was happening to and you didn’t know it.”
Ham said that “each of these items is loaded,” and if the council members had not done their homework on them, “how can you vote on this tonight?”
Fairfield City Attorney John Morrissey said that the paragraphs in the resolution could be interpreted in multiple ways, but that they were all about insisting that the city is tolerant.
“As far as how much we can tolerate, we are not, as a public body, in a position we can necessarily say we have the last word on tolerance,” Morrissey said. “You can look at what’s in a textbook, but you can’t make the decision that the school board’s got to make. You can tell them you don’t approve if there’s something in the book that shouldn’t be there, but if someone wants to go look in that book, we’re not going to burn the book.”
Morrissey suggested that the council could add to the resolution a list of things it does not tolerate, such as sex trafficking and abuse. He added that Fairfield is among the most tolerant communities he can imagine living in.
“We’ve got 80 nationalities and every type of biological anomaly as far as a person can take on in this community, and I think everyone lives an unimpaired life as far as other people not attacking them or going after them,” Morrissey said.
Council member Doug Flournoy was hesitant to adopt the resolution without getting more community input first.
“The writing of this does not reflect the broadness of the community that exists in Fairfield,” Flournoy said. “If we approve this, this document in and of itself is not grooming, but it’s a component of grooming, isn’t it? You normalize and teach children these are normal things for people to be doing. There are some middle school classes in this country where a huge number of the girls all profess to be transgender, way beyond the statistical norm. Have they been conditioned to believe this is OK? I don’t know. If we adopt this, aren’t we giving credence to that kind of thinking and doing?”
The DEI resolution does not contain the word “transgender.” The only reference to sexuality that appears in the text is the line that reads the city condemns discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and on “gender,” along with seven other attributes.
Flournoy asked the council if a transgender male to female person wanted to use the ladies’ locker room at the rec center, whether they could use this DEI resolution as affirming their behavior.
“The answer is no. It doesn’t affirm the behavior,” Gandy said. “What are you looking at? Are we looking at the same document?”
“This is a statement of intent. It’s not law. It’s not Iowa code,” Gandy continued. “It’s not forcing anyone to do anything.”
Gandy reiterated his confusion over how the document could be interpreted as promoting sexual trafficking and grooming.
Ham motioned to table the resolution, which the council passed.
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org