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December 17, 2019

Why Should Taxpayers Foot the Bill for Liberal Indoctrination?

It’s gone this far because we were silent.

Editor’s note: This piece by Penny Nance, the CEO and president of Concerned Women for America, was originally penned on Aug. 5, 2019.

Are we literally paying our liberal academic institutions to indoctrinate our kids? This was the disturbing and irresistible question plaguing the long drive home last week from college orientation. I doubt I am alone in this wake-up call. Here is what I saw and what you can do.

Like many other women, I am preparing to send my youngest child off to college. I am so proud of him and his decision to join the Army ROTC and study engineering. He will be attending a revered Virginia institution known for its military Corp of Cadet’s program. The centerpiece of the campus is the military parade field featuring beautiful pylons bearing the founding principles of the school: words like honor, duty, brotherhood, and “ut prosim” (that I may serve). The war memorial also bears the names of all known cadets who have given their lives for our nation since World War I. Established in 1872, Virginia Tech has an honorable and proud tradition in my home state. Virginia Tech graduates are some of the most accomplished and wonderful people I know. Hokies shine around our nation as leaders and are a great credit to their school. I know many to be people of faith, and many, many are conservative.

Which is why parents were shocked to experience what can only be described as extreme and overtly leftist propaganda spewed at our children’s orientation. The opening “University Welcome” event for students and parents separated families immediately in the auditorium. No one present expected the event to begin with prayer or the Pledge of Allegiance — heavens, no! But one might expect to remember the names of fallen cadets on the pylons or maybe even a moment of silence to recognize the 32 dead and 17 injured resulting from the 2007 shooting on Virginia Tech’s campus, the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Nope, didn’t happen. Instead, the administration made the stunning choice to open new student orientation with a moment to recognize two Native American tribes on whose land the university was built (i.e., stolen). And with that, the parent and student eye-rolling began.

What followed went from slightly bothersome to downright alarming. The next two hours were filled with speaker after speaker who introduced themselves with not just their names and titles but also preferred pronouns. As in, “Hi, my name is Penny Nance, and I identify as ‘she’ and ‘her.’” At first parents were slightly surprised; by the end, they were mad. The funny thing is that every person on the stage looked exactly as you would expect them to identify. No plot twists. It was at that point I noticed all the new students’ badges contained not just their names but also their preferred pronoun because the school had made it part of the students’ registration for the event. The heavy-handed diversity lecture that followed seemed rather tame in comparison.

Parents leaving the venue were in shock.

The rest of the day was filled with the same two-track program, parents versus children, allowing the university to share specific sets of information with both. Parents were given the hardline against underage and excessive drinking, but new students, according to students present, were assured that campus police are there to help them navigate wayward behavior that was implied to be a normal situation. I am told that one student dared to raise his hand to point out the inconsistency but was quickly dismissed.

Identity-group politics were constantly dignified and showcased. Every imaginable identity group has a club or even dedicated space on campus except for anything remotely religious, although clubs exist. It’s apparently way cooler to be a minority trans woman with food allergies then it is to be simply known as an American college student. It was interesting to note that there was Halal food available but no certified kosher meals. Religiously observant Jewish students? Tough luck. But if you are vegan, you are in business.

After dinner, parents were sent off to oblivious sleep while students were lectured on not making assumptions about each other’s gender or sexuality. “Be open to new experiences,” they urged throughout the day. “Parents, don’t be shocked if your kid comes home changed,” they intoned. Were they suggesting students ought to be fluidly “exploring” their gender and sexuality, as if it were some expected adventure? In the era of “Me Too,” that seems off-message.

Sitting in that room were hundreds of parents who have saved and sacrificed to send our children to what we are constantly assured is a top educational institution. The attitude that often comes across is how “privileged” we should feel that our college student was even selected to attend such a fine and prestigious university. Lucky us.

Let’s not forget, all Virginians pay taxes and thus have equity and stake in what our children are taught. Alumni are deeply invested in the reputation and direction of their alma mater. I doubt they are okay with what appeared to be a new “woke” version of their school. Here’s the problem: Virginia Tech and most other public universities have forgotten that they work for us.

They must hear a clear message: Every religious family whose time-tested and traditional values on human sexuality they want to subvert; every Christian, Muslim, Orthodox Jewish, or conservative teacher or university employee; and every student whose privacy they are violating have rights, too. Why should a young man or woman struggling with identity issues be forced to disclose those to a university to be prominently displayed on a name badge? Gender dysphoria is real and the small number of students struggling deserve to be treated with dignity and kindness.

Why should a teacher’s First Amendment rights be violated by being bullied into using the made-up terms they/them, Zie/Zim, Ey/Em (or about 60 more) instead of she/her or he/him? Why should a Christian or Muslim student be bullied into violating their consciences and into compliance of a small group attempting to control thought by forcing a speech code that is nonsensical to everyone short of the gender-identity political warriors apparently running the school? The reordering of centuries of grammar usage is a messianic and offensive overcorrection. And here is where it gets real: Why should taxpayers foot the bill for liberal indoctrination?

We shouldn’t, and if we all demand it, we won’t have to anymore. The Republican Party still is in control of the Virginia Assembly and Senate. One line in an appropriations bill would assure the rights of students and teachers in this madness. Virginians deserve better. We do not bow to the ascendancy of the liberal, ivory-towered academic’s worldview over ours. We can both care for and love struggling kids who don’t feel included and maintain our sanity.

Virginia Tech is known for its excellence in the sciences, yet it has caved in to a minority social-justice warrior (SJW) activist ideology and stooped to denying basic scientific facts about human biology.

I have called out Virginia Tech in this op-ed, but other schools in Virginia and around the nation have the identical issue. This is rampant. Parents, donors, and alumni: If you “identify” with this experience, it’s up to you. We have reached this point because most are silent, too afraid of the social-media harassment and bullying tactics of liberal activists and professors. Speak up. First, send screen shots, video, or your story to CWA at [email protected]. We won’t give your name without permission, but we will tell your story. Secondly, contact your state legislators and demand legislation prohibiting the forced use of speech codes. The state controls most of the funds for public universities and can prohibit the use of those funds for nefarious means. Finally, contact the president of your or your child’s institution. I have requested a meeting with Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands, who, incidentally, is originally from San Francisco and is a Cal Berkley graduate. If parents, students, and alumni would simply call and complain, it would at least wake up “the woke” to the fact that conservatives attend their schools and are sick of the madness. It’s gone this far because we were silent.

When do we say “enough?”

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