The Good, The Bad, And The Confusing (And Breaking News)
Georgetown learns to count, new surveys reveal the state of free speech among students, "Kids and Gender Roundtable" is available on YouTube, and FIRE expands its mission.
Good news on the free speech front: Georgetown will not fire legal scholar Ilya Shapiro for tweeting something controversial. After a lengthy investigation, Georgetown’s administration determined that the tweet was posted 5 before his teaching contract took effect. Thus, he is not subject to discipline for something for which he should not be subject to discipline anyway.
As lawyer Ken White noted on Twitter, it only took 122 days for Georgetown to determine that January 26 comes before February 1.
In the newest Knight Foundation survey, high school students reveal their lack of support for free speech. And in Heterodox Academy’s college survey, a higher proportion of college students say their campus climate prevents people from saying what they believe: 63.5% in 2021, up from 54.7% in 2019.
The Heterodox Academy survey also reveals an astounding increase in the proportion of students identifying as transgender and nonbinary. In 2020, roughly 4 in 300 college students identified as transgender and 2 in 1000 identified as nonbinary. In 2021, the proportion of students identifying as transgender jumped more than 300% to roughly 4 in 100 and the proportion identifying as nonbinary skyrocketed 2500% to 5 in 100. (To put this in perspective, in 2017, the National Institutes of Health reported the proportion of Americans whose “gender identity differs [at all] from the sex they were assigned at birth” at 1 in 250.)
I learned a tremendous amount from all the participants in our Gender Roundtable discussion: transexual educator Buck Angel, psychotherapist Joseph Burgo, transexual activist Corinna Cohn, author and Harvard lecturer in evolutionary biology Carole Hooven, Irish psychotherapist, author, and documentary filmmaker Stella O’Malley, and journalist and author Lisa Selin Davis.
In Corinna Cohn’s recent post on her own Substack, she unpacks the misconceptions I brought to our conversation; the assumption that in the face of an explosion of trans-identifying children, the moral and ethical –– and medical –– imperative is to identify the children who are authentically “transgender” and provide them “gender-affirming” treatment while preventing children whose self-described transgender identities are masking their real issues from accessing these same medical interventions. Gender affirmation means unquestioningly accepting and confirming a child’s declaration of gender identity and provide medical interventions that allow their bodies to more closely conform to their identities. I came to the conversation assuming that “gender-affirming care” would effectively and productively relieve the distress of the former group of children and do damage to the latter.
You can watch our roundtable discussion below or at the Habits of a Free Mind YouTube channel.
In exciting news, FIRE, formerly The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, just announced that it has graduated from being solely a campus-based organization. Stepping in where the ACLU has fallen down, FIRE is now The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. Its new mission is to defend and sustain the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought—the most essential qualities of liberty. FIRE educates Americans about the importance of these inalienable rights, promotes a culture of respect for these rights, and provides the means to preserve them.
More to come…
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