by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Two recent news stories about educational institutions in our state illustrate the truth of that statement. On May 1st, City Journal reported that an elite private day school in Durham had fired a member of its board of trustees because he was providing pro-bono legal support to Christian plaintiffs:
Roger Brooks describes himself as a “loyal supporter” of Durham Academy. A member of the class of 1980, he has donated money every year to support the 1,200-student North Carolina private school. His father was chairman of the board of trustees in the 1970s. When he left New York to move back to his hometown six years ago, he enrolled his two youngest children and joined the board. So it came as a surprise when Brooks was fired from the board earlier this year in the middle of his second term—because his presence made some faculty members feel “less safe.”
The problem, according to an anonymous letter sent to the board last year and claiming to represent dozens of teachers, was that (board member Roger) Brooks is a lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a pro bono Christian legal-advocacy group that has argued in favor of bans on transgendered men competing in women’s sports and against forcing bakers to make cakes for gay weddings. By including Brooks on the board, the letter stated, school leaders “made the calculation that the lives, health and wellbeing of the queer community are ancillary and insignificant.” The group demanded that Brooks be removed and censured, and that the board apologize “to the entire DA community for a failure to do its due diligence to provide a safe and respectful community through the appointment and renewal of Roger Brooks.”
The school eventually caved to the pressure and sent Brooks a dismissal letter couched in what he described as “standard issue cancel-culture script.”
On May 4th, The Carolina Journal published an opinion piece by Woody White, a member of the UNC Board of Governors, discussing recent events at UNC Wilmington:
This past week, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s Watson College of Education announced that Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, was receiving an award at its yearly banquet for his bi-partisan work on the Hunt-Lee Commission, the Excellence in Schools Act, and his work procuring funding for the Isaac Baer Early College.
But because Sen. Lee also supports the “N.C. Parents Bill of Rights,” part of which limits classroom instruction on sexuality in the youngest elementary grades, a protest was organized by Caitlin Ryan, a UNCW associate professor who spends her career pushing LGBTQ subject matter into K-5th grades by authoring articles such as “Navigating Parental Resistance.” She has even co-authored a book on the subject, titled “Reading the Rainbow” — described as an “LGBTQ Inclusive Literacy Instruction in the Elementary Classroom.”
Together, with a few of her colleagues, the professor tried having the award rescinded. When that effort failed, they attempted to embarrass Sen. Lee by staging a “walk-out” when he was invited to the stage. The night concluded with Lee and his family walking to their car as a profanity-laced gauntlet of dozens of angry people surrounded them.
Some people have suggested that the woke tide may be turning in American educational institutions, and that would certainly be a welcome change. Considering what’s been happening at educational institutions in North Carolina, however, I’m not holding my breath.