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Ottawa County resolution "an attack" on LGBTQ+ community, says local organization

LGBTQ Flag photo
Ludovic Bertron | Wikimedia | CC BY 2.0

Board of Commissioners say it "prohibits the sexualization" of children and from being "groomed."

After the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners passed a new resolution on Tuesday aimed at “protecting children’s innocence,” critics are calling it a “thinly veiled attack on the LGBTQ+ community.”

“I know a lot of people don't like hearing the word grooming, but this truly is grooming,”

That is Sylvia Rhodea, vice-chairperson of the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners, speaking about children attending the recent Grand Haven Pride Festival.

A number of commissioners had voiced their disapproval of the county’s department of public health having a presence at the LGBTQ+ event, and in response, passed a resolution on Tuesday that prohibited the county of supporting any programs or institutions, that “normalize, or encourage the sexualization of children and youth.”

Meanwhile, a few commissioners Tuesday argued the board did not have enough time to consider the proposal. Commissioner Jacob Bonnema called the resolution a “Friday Night Surprise,” meaning, the board had been presented the agenda item only a few days prior to the vote.

“Let that process take place, let’s not rush this through over the weekend, let’s allow the public to weigh in, let’s listen, and then let’s vote on things,” Bonnema said.

Meanwhile officials from the LGBTQ+ community called the resolution an “attack on gay and queer persons” in Ottawa County, including Out On the Lakeshore Director Kate Leighton Colburn.

“That is what they are doing, they are attacking organizations like mine, and they are attacking the LGBTQ community. They like to say that the proposal is about protecting children from being sexualized, but really that is just their way of spinning homophobia.”

Commissioner Bonnema, who voted in favor of the resolution Tuesday, was also censured at the meeting as well. He has come under heavy criticism by the area’s GOP for cutting ties with Republican Pac Group Ottawa Impact, a far-right-leaning group founded by Board Chair Joe Moss.