“YOU HAVE BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS SCOTT YENOR.”
So screams a flyer circulating on Boise State University’s campus. There’s also an online petition asking that the Boise State professor, Dr. Scott Yenor, be fired.
From all of the outrage, you might assume that Yenor had done something really terrible. His crime? Writing a report and a follow-up article linking the transgender and feminist movements, highlighting their shared idea that biological sex does not determine our identity, and discussing how that idea undermines the family and parental rights. The worst part? He wrote it from a culturally conservative viewpoint. The horror!
The outrage started when Boise State’s School of Public Service posted the article on Facebook. The school’s dean, Corey Cook, wrote on Facebook that Yenor does have academic freedom, but he also made sure to criticize Yenor, stating that his ideas are inconsistent with the school’s values.
Then, the Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion (yes, that’s a real title), Francisco Salinas, took it a step further. On the Boise State website, he authored an article comparing Yenor’s report and article to the violence at Charlottesville.
“Not everyone who agrees with Yenor’s piece is likely to become an espoused Neo-Nazi, but likely every Neo-Nazi would agree with Yenor’s piece,” he writes.
So, let me ask you:
- Do you believe that an individual’s gender is determined by their biological sex at birth?
- Do you believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman?
- Do you believe the best possible situation for a child is to be raised by both their mother and father?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might be a Neo-Nazi. At least, according to Salinas.
Thankfully, the university has stated that they do not plan to take any action against Yenor, whom ADF attorneys have represented during this ordeal. After all, he does have free speech and academic freedom rights. And Cook did acknowledge that Yenor had not violated any school policy, even though Cook’s Facebook post seemed to indicate otherwise.
What’s really troubling is that Cook and Salinas missed an important opportunity.
They could have engaged with Yenor in discussion and debate, showing their students how to be tolerant of differing viewpoints. Instead, they chose to denounce and dismiss by name-calling, teaching their students that if they shout loud enough and long enough, that’s all they need to do to shut down the other side of the debate.
The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is working to ensure that a better understanding of our Constitution is promoted on our college campuses, so that students can leave with knowledge of how to engage with other ideas in a productive manner, rather than just suppress an unpopular viewpoint.
Learn more about the Center for Academic Freedom’s work.