BSU resists calls to fire prof for promoting parental rights
- A professor at Boise State University is facing backlash for writing an op-ed expressing concerns about the erosion of parental rights with regard to their children’s gender identity.
- A student op-ed and corresponding petition call for Scott Yenor to be fired for writing "an article that threatens the existence of queer and non-binary folks by promoting rhetorical violence against their livelihood.”
- Statements from the administration, however, indicate that the school will not take punitive action against Yenor.
A professor at Boise State University is facing backlash for writing an op-ed expressing concerns about the erosion of parental rights with regard to their children’s gender identity.
Scott Yenor, a professor of Political Science at BSU, contributed an op-ed for The Daily Signal titled Transgender Activists Are Seeking to Undermine Parental Rights, in which he primarily argues that the “radical feminist movement” is attempting to make it acceptable for a child to choose their own sexual/gender identity without parental consent.
“Parental rights are related to the age of consent, which states protect in order for children to give time and space to become mature, independent adults,” Yenor writes, noting that “Americans do not want their children overly sexualized, and they respect the right of parents to educate their children.”
“Transgender rights activists are seeking to abridge parental rights by elevating the independent choices of young children” to the same level, he continues, warning that “respecting the sexual and gender ‘choices’ of ever-younger children erodes parental rights and compromises the integrity of the family as an independent unit.”
He also compares the issue of transgender rights to same-sex marriage, which he calls “the last great feminist victory,” saying it “put ever more children outside the purpose of marriage” and “reinforced the idea that all means of sexual satisfaction are equal.”
Some BSU students were not pleased with Yenor’s op-ed, and one student, Ryan Orlando, wrote an op-ed for The Odyssey calling on Boise State to “Part Ways With Scott Yenor.”
Orlando takes particular exception to Yenor’s comment about same-sex marriage, deeming it “a blatantly inappropriate statement and frankly the root of much homophobia.”
He then goes on to scoff at Yenor’s argument in favor of parental rights, "as if somehow children in the US never make life-altering decisions before the age of consent against their parents' wishes…”
Continuing to whale away at that particular straw man, Orlando complains that “Yenor repeatedly defers to parental rights and parental choice as if parents are all knowing-Gods who could restore society if only the left would just let them be!”
He concludes, however, by admonishing readers not to “bother approaching this article with the ‘This is equally intolerant’ BS,” declaring, “there is a difference between being intolerant of an exclusionary viewpoint someone holds and being intolerant of a person because of an immutable characteristic. Yenor doesn't have to be an asshole. Queer/Trans folk don't have a choice.”
An online petition likewise calls on BSU to “terminate Dr. Scott Yenor's position with Boise State University,” complaining that he “recently published an article that threatens the existence of queer and non-binary folks by promoting rhetorical violence against their livelihood.”
The petition asserts that “for multiple reasons, Dr. Scott Yenor is unfit to teach, but largely that he promotes an ideology of violence is grounds for his dismissal,” but gives no additional information beyond a link to Orlando’s op-ed.
Orlando was originally listed as the author of the petition, but told Campus Reform that he did not create it. The petition now indicates that the author is a "JC Spoon."
At press time, the petition had barely surpassed 2,000 signatures, leaving it about 500 shy of its goal. Orlando, however, claimed that the original goal has already been achieved, saying the website has been automatically raising the threshold.
Orlando told Campus Reform that he believes his efforts are already having an effect, claiming that “students are dropping [Yenor’s] class and others have come out and said they won't take classes from him.
“If you like freedom of speech and the free market, you can call that folks choosing with their dollars,” Orlando remarked, noting that if enough people choose not to enroll in his class, “the university will be put in a precarious position.”
The uproar from students at BSU even caused the Dean of The School of Public Service, Corey Cook, to release a statement explaining that the decision to promote Yenor’s op-ed on the school’s Facebook account was not intended as an endorsement, but rather was made in keeping with a policy of “content neutrality” that calls for promoting all published work by faculty members.
“It saddens me that our alumni, students and others are disappointed in the University and have been made to feel demeaned and further marginalized,” Cook wrote. “I sincerely apologize that by drawing attention to Professor Yenor’s piece we have given the impression that we are in agreement with his perspective and worse that we do not value or respect the diversity of our students, faculty, and staff.”
However, Cook also made clear that “I am not willing to condemn Professor Yenor’s scholarship and writings or worse, agree with those posters who question why university faculty should be engaging in public debates at all.”
“In talking with faculty and staff from diverse political perspectives across the country I worry deeply about the contemporary political environment and the chilling effect it is having on discourse at public universities,” he continues, citing the reaction to Charles Murray’s speech at Middlebury College as just one poignant example.
“We need to encourage our faculty to voice their ideas and opinions whether popular or not,” he concluded. “And we need to encourage a robust discussion around those ideas that embrace the value of public reason.”
Yenor told Campus Reform that the university has stood up for his right to free speech, “and for that I am grateful,” saying, “I believe that the Dean Cook is committed, in his bones, to academic freedom.”
“I think it’s important to defend the ability of parents to make decisions for their children,” he said, adding that “the campus should be a place of a robust exchange of ideas,” but noting that incidents similar to his are not uncommon.
Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion Francisco Salinas also produced a rather less charitable statement on the university’s website in which he declares that “Not every person who agrees with Yenor’s piece is likely to become an espoused Neo-Nazi, but likely every Neo-Nazi would agree with the substance of Yenor’s piece.”
He then contends that “Yenor’s piece includes a seed of hate that needs to be labeled for what it is, the spirit of an ideological animal called supremacy; supremacy of male over female, of straight over gay and of our way over yours,” but stops short of explicitly demanding Yenor’s removal.
Yet Benjamin Chafetz, College Republicans at BSU told Campus Reform he believes there is still a chance that Yenor will be fired, saying “Boise State has the right to fire who they please,” but in so doing would reveal an unwillingness to support freedom of speech.
“Appease the outraged folks who are dictating how they feel Boise State should be run or stand up for a professor who gave an unpopular view,” are the options that Chafetz thinks the university now confronts, speculating that those who want Yanor fired are only taking that position because “he said something they disagree with. Plain and simple.”
Speaking in his role as Chair of the BSU College Republicans, Chafetz declared that “Scott Yenor has every right to make his opinions known,” adding that “It appears that he did not use the school as a vessel in any way and therefore we cannot, and would not, condemn him for expressing his beliefs.”
Campus Reform reached out to Boise State University, but did not receive a response.
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