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Horowitz: While DeSantis cleans up Florida universities, Wyoming Republicans promote gender studies
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Horowitz: While DeSantis cleans up Florida universities, Wyoming Republicans promote gender studies

There are two visions of red states being offered by elected Republicans. Ron DeSantis believes that a red state’s governmental institutions, such as public universities, should reflect the values of the majority of voters within the states – or at a minimum remain neutral on the culture war. Most other Republicans seem to think that even in red states, all the government agencies and public institutions should still be promoting the most odious values of the blue states. It is this latter view that has ensured that red states are nothing more than anti-abortion and pro-gun versions of the culturally Marxist blue states. DeSantis is showing us that it doesn’t have to be this way, while Wyoming Republicans are demonstrating why we don’t have too many options to escape tyranny.

Last month, DeSantis took what the New York Times described as “among the most progressive” college in Florida and replaced all six trustees while revamping its curriculum. Under the leadership of Chris Ruffo and scholars associated with Hillsdale and the Claremont Institute, he abolished all gender and racial identity studies and replaced those classes with classical education. In the same week, he abolished all CRT and DEI curriculum in every public university and forced AP African-American Studies directors to crawl back to him and promise to remove objectionable portions from the curriculum.

Now imagine if every red state operated like Florida. We’d be a different country altogether. Unfortunately, we can’t have nice things. In nearly every other red state, the state department of education and most certainly the leadership of the public universities are poisoning the minds of our youth just as much as in the blue states. The governors and legislators have no desire to make the values of red states sane again. Wyoming appears to be the worst of the lot, in which the top Republicans in the House outright rejected a proposal to defund “gender studies” and even criticized the plan by using all of the clichés, talking points, and premises of the left.

Rising conservative star Rep. Jeanette Ward (R-Casper) proposed an amendment on Friday to the budget bill that would have defunded gender studies at the University of Wyoming. Aside from such programs being a vacuous waste of taxpayer funding, they are anathema to the values of the majority of residents of Wyoming. The undergraduate program includes courses titled, “Introduction to LGBTQ/NS Studies,” “Gender, Race, Sex & Social Systems,” “Feminist Theories,” and “Queer Theory.” There is also a graduate minor program in queer studies that includes courses titled, “Intimate Relationships, Pop Music & Sexualities,” and “Minority Sexual/Gender Identity Issues in Education.”

If people want this filth, then the market forces of private institutions, not taxpayers, should cover it. A simple proposition for the 57-5 GOP-controlled majority, right? Wrong.

Cowboy State Daily reports that House Speaker Rep. Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale) was so “passionate throughout the debate” that he left his speaker’s chair to debate Ward. He argued strongly that state statutes require liberal arts programs, which in his estimation means “it’s appropriate for the university to have the studies they deem necessary, that they deem important.”

Rep. Barry Crago (R-Buffalo), the same Republican who just killed the bill banning vaccine and mask mandates, literally said it’s none of the legislature’s business and lawmakers shouldn’t be “making political choices about kids’ education.” Crago felt that the state constitution hands over the power to unelected trustees and God forbid the elected legislators should ever use the power of the purse to stop Wyoming from turning into San Francisco.

Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne), the chairman of the House Labor Committee, scolded that the amendment to defund gender studies marginalizes women, rhetorically asking, “In the Equality State, really?”

When supporters of Ward’s effort cited Article 7, Section 21 of the state’s constitution, which states that the legislature should advance the state’s morality, Rep. Landon Brown (R-Cheyenne) countered, “At one point in time those with a different color to our skin were deemed immoral as well. I’ve never seen such an audacious approach.”

Yeah, you know, because opposing queer theory and kinky sex studies is tantamount to supporting slavery.

Folks, these are the GOP leaders in the state of Wyoming. They are absolutely indistinguishable from San Francisco leftists. The excuse they give is that the state legislators should just allow the state to be consumed by the spirit of the age. This is a testament to the failure of conservatives to focus on their own back yards. They continue to reelect Republicans to these chambers who make Mitch McConnell look like Ron DeSantis.

It appears that there wasn’t enough support for the amendment, so lawmakers never even requested a recorded vote before the effort died.

In a similar vein, Wyoming Republicans just helped kill a pair of bills to ensure pornography is not disseminated by teachers and librarians. House Bill 87 and Senate File 177, sponsored by Rep. Ward and Sen. Cheri Steinmetz respectively, would have removed an exemption in state law that protects librarians and educators from being charged criminally for disseminating obscene material to minors. Last week, the Senate Education Committee killed SF 177, and the House Revenue Committee killed HB 87 on a 6-3 vote.

During her testimony before the House committee, Ward referred to two books in local libraries that “explicitly described male-on-male fellatio, how to work as a sex worker, use sex toys, make porn, polyamory, masturbation, and more.” Bizarrely, during the debate in the Senate Education Committee, Chairman Sen. Charlie Scott complained that this bill would prevent academics in state institutions from studying the mental health effects of porn and that they therefore need “access to the actual material so they know what the heck they’re studying.”

What a twisted, random excuse to use for opposing the bill! Besides, does it hurt to put in an exception, if that is your only issue with the bill? These are the excuses they will use to avoid conducting a vote on issues the overwhelming majority of red-state voters support.

Conservatives inside and outside elected office in red states need to reassert control over their states before it’s too late. They think that national Democrats and Joe Biden are the problem and as long as they blindly elect Republicans in the general election, they will be safe. In reality, Democrats are able to win in those states without firing a shot and without suffering electoral reprisal – they simply let Republicans do the dirty work for them.

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