Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Rocky Horror State University

The University of Houston-Downtown has about 14,000 students and, while Wikipedia says UHD students are 39% Hispanic, 29% African American, 20% white, 9% Asian American, the percentage of transgendered students is evidently unknown.

Nevertheless, with the encouragement of “the university’s new Center for Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” UHD is now creating “gender-neutral” restrooms to accommodate the, uh, gender neutral. And this regime is “coming soon to a college near you,” as Aleister at College Insurrection says.


Why does a campus with such a diverse student body need a “Center for Student Diversity”? Doesn’t the student diversity seem to be taking care of itself without supervision?

Does anyone else remember when coed dorms were considered a scandalous idea? Or better yet, does anyone remember when many colleges were either all-male or all-female?

Given that 26 million people live in Texas, if a student body of 14,000 contains enough transgender people to justify “gender-neutral” restrooms, isn’t it possible that Texas could create an all-transgender university, just for them?

Of course, creating UT-LGBT would be redundant, because students at the Austin campus are pretty much all gay anyway.  At least, that’s what the folks at Texas A&M tell me.


West Va. teachers union insists on constitutional right to wear spandex, short skirts

The school board in the most populous county in West Virginia is once again attempting to institute a dress code for public school teachers.

The last time the issue came up — in 2001 — Kanawha County school board members ultimately voted down a policy that would have banned strapless dresses, low-cut blouses, blue jeans and spandex, reports the Spirit of Jefferson and Farmer’s Advocate, a West Va. newspaper.

The details of the proposed Kanawha County Schools dress code remain vague at this point. However, there seems to be a general focus on things like conspicuous tattoos, facial piercings and overly revealing clothes. Spandex may or may not loom large in this round of dress-code controversy.

Basically, the school board’s goal is to introduce standards for determining if teachers aren’t dressed appropriately.

Under the current policy, there is no dress code. Each teacher’s wardrobe must be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“Even under the existing rules, if you say a teacher is supposed to dress professionally, then it may be incumbent upon us to define what we think ‘professional’ and ‘appropriate’ is,” suggested Jim Withrow, an attorney for the school district.

Becky Jordon, a Kanawha County school board member, wants teachers to come to work looking like professional employees.

“I think teachers should be able to dress comfortably,” Jordon said, according to the Spirit of Jefferson. “All I’m asking for is that if you’re telling a student they can’t wear tank tops, then an employee shouldn’t be able to.”

“I was at a school recently and a teacher had the back out of her shirt and a big tattoo was showing,” the school board member added. “I’ve seen some teachers whose skirts are so short that it does draw attention.”

Christine Campbell, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, argues that a dress code is unnecessary.

“What are we trying to do? Does this really impair the children’s ability to learn, and where does it stop? Are we going to line teachers up and measure the length of their skirts?” said Campbell. “Let teachers do their jobs and focus on education instead of imposing someone’s personal preference on their style.”

The teachers union also calls a dress code an unconstitutional encroachment on the human rights of its members.

The union’s trump card is a 1988 Kanawha County Circuit Court decision holding that school boards do not have the authority to force restrictive dress codes on teachers because such codes infringe on freedom of expression.


Political correctness marches on

Today, some of America’s least-free places are the many government schools where students enjoy lesser free speech rights than prisoners, since “zero tolerance” and “social justice” apparently trump liberty.

In October, a Pennsylvania school’s zero tolerance for violence policy dictated that a fifth-grader be suspended for pretending to use his pencil as a bow and arrow. That same month, an 8-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., boy was threatened with expulsion from a charter school — his parents decided to pull him out of the facility — for drawing a ninja, a Star Wars character, and a soldier.

Similarly, zero tolerance for “sexual harassment” mandated in 2011 that an 8-year-old North Carolina boy be suspended for being overheard saying his teacher was “cute.” In 2006, a 4-year-old Waco, Texas boy got an in-school suspension for daring to hug a teacher’s aide. And in 2009, a Milford, Conn., middle school forbade all touching, including handshakes.

Zero tolerance for “racism” or “hate speech” in many schools means no one can wear anything with a Dixie flag.  A New Jersey high school student got suspended for wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with “redneck” humor.  Teachers in many places can no longer ask children to sit “Indian style” — the preferred politically correct phrase is “criss-cross, applesauce.”

In California, a 2011 state law banned anything in schools that reflects adversely on homosexuals.

“Tolerance” excludes the politically incorrect.

Literature in K-12 schools is a frequent target. Intolerant leftists complain about Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” revealing that racist characters speak racist words, while intolerant rightists target the “Harry Potter” for its wizards and “Snow White” for depicting a woman shacking up with seven men.

God help the bold instructor who lets his class discuss a political issue. As a high school teacher near Athens told me, if a parent or anyone says he was “offended by” something allegedly said in your class, then it means “days or weeks ... involved in a defense.” So teachers are “better off ... walking the straight line and avoiding controversy.”

Only about 40 percent of my college students say they were ever allowed to discuss any controversial issue in high school.

So why the dramatic decline of liberty allowed in our schools? The zero tolerance for violence paranoia is a hysterical overreaction to the saturation media coverage of the handful of horrible school shootings in recent years. But, instead of rationally allowing school workers with concealed-carry permits to be armed — since almost every mass shooting in the United States has been in a “gun-free zone” — education bureaucrats exploit school shootings to impose a totalitarian vise on students’ basic First Amendment free-expression rights. Constipating children’s imaginations appears to be the imperative.

That so many principals face threats of lawsuits from angry parents and students about any alleged inadequacy encourages them to regulate students ever more to reduce their legal liability. More rules beget more administrators to enforce them. And the number of professional paper-pushers generates numbers of rules to justify their jobs, power and pay.

A great many schools of education, administrators, and teachers (especially their unions) value equality far more than freedom. Indeed, freedom is stigmatized as the obstacle to “equity,” “inclusion,” and “fairness.” Allow young folks choices and they might make the wrong ones.

Thus, many educators in schools and colleges see their mission as one of indoctrination toward creating some “social justice” utopia rather than encouraging independent critical thought.  So they preach one party line, and woe unto the student who dares to deviate from it in class discussion. I learned that firsthand in graduate school in the 1990s.

The self-esteem movement has fostered a far more narcissistic, entitlement mindset among many, which says that if my son can’t eat peanuts, then no one can. Not only must I shield my daughter from learning about evolution, but I must save all the children from it.

Most people fear standing up to the intolerati’s encroachments on our rights. The statist war on liberty is constant, and defending freedom is a never-ending struggle. But the prophetic U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, regarded as a great liberal, warned, “The freedoms of speech, press, petition, and assembly guaranteed by the First Amendment must be accorded to the ideas we hate, or sooner or later they will be denied to the ideas we cherish.”

We will enjoy precisely as much freedom as we are willing to fight for.


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