Letter to Mel Lightner

Supt. Mel E. Lightner
Kimberly Area School District
217 E Kimberly Ave
Kimberly WI 54136

Dear Supt. Lightner:

We have been contacted about the School District’s ties to a Christian ministry. Although it was announced that Monday’s “Bod Squad Tour” has been moved from Kimberly High School to a church (thanks only to complaints to the school district), the Post-Crescent story does not indicate that financial support has been withdrawn by the Positive Youth Development Foundation of the Kimberly Area School District. Nor has that level of financial support been publicly divulged. We are seeking from you an explanation of what the financial arrangements were, and where the financial arrangements stand now, including total amounts of subsidy and for what purposes money was/is designated.

Under Wisconsin Open Records Law, we are asking for:

1) rental agreement between Kimberly Area School District and Bod Squad sponsors, including Pure Freedom or the Positive Youth Development Foundation (one assumes there is one?)

2) Contract between the Kimberly Area School District and/or its Positive Youth Development Foundation with Secret Keeper Girl Bod Squad/Pure Freedom

3) An itemization of the number and cost of flyers distributed in the schools or elsewhere, or any other District advertising for this event.

I was startled to read the publicity about this event. Had you or anyone in the school district checked this group out? If not, that was irresponsible. If the District understood what it was getting involved with, then it shows a disturbing inability by authorities at the Kimberly Area School District to separate their personal religious views from their professional obligation to run a secular school district.

The website Purefreedom.org makes the Christian evangelical nature of this organization abundantly clear. Its website, talking about “Satan,” etc., reveals its primitive outlook. The title “Secret Keeper Girl Bod” implies that girls must keep their bodies “secret,” as though their bodies were shameful. There is not that much difference between this group’s attitude and the Taliban, which has its own fine religious ideals for shrouding women. The website’s “Secret of the Lord” section is simply bizarre.

It is very clear from the group’s own literature that “Bod Squad” regards young girls as being in the role of culpable seductresses. These views, straight out of the bible, place the entire onus on young females for “distracting” men, not on men for being distracted. Most distasteful, if not shocking, is that their advertised target is preteens, little girls between grades three and six! The oblique reference to a girl’s nipples showing (“Is it cold in here?”), lecturing little girls about their obligation to be sure this never happens, is deeply offensive and even abusive. While there may be indeed be sexist and exploitative forces at work trying to sexualize young girls for commercial gain, this ministry is just the flip side of the same coin!

I was further shocked to read your comments to the Post-Crescent generally endorsing this group’s event, while the dress habits of male students was entirely ignored. That your district conspired with this outlandish ministry to try to dictate unhealthy and shame- inducing fundamentalist Christian moral codes upon little girls under your tutelage is simply disgraceful.

The Kimberly Area School District owes the community, particularly young schoolgirls, an apology. And an explanation.


Annie Laurie Gaylor

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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