by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Adam Ellwanger writes for the Martin Center about problems linked to Title IX enforcement on college campuses.
[V]ery few citizens understand that Title IX, in its new interpretation, is also about policing and disciplining speech on campus—especially speech that deviates from the orthodoxy of progressive politics. In 2015, I learned about the punitive dimensions of Title IX when I had a complaint filed against me.
One night, I was teaching my graduate seminar. On this particular evening, we were reading an essay about expanding protections for LGBT people in the workplace. The paper insisted that being LGBT is a detriment in every field and every corner of the working world. As we discussed the merits of the argument, I posited that there are, in fact, positions and places where being LGBT might be an advantage. There was a brief exchange about whether that is accurate. Then, class went on, and I thought nothing of it. …
… When I received a copy of the [Title IX] complaint, I learned that the student’s charge was that I graded him down because I don’t like gay people. His evidence? Only that the “professor knows [his] sexual orientation,” explaining that “it doesn’t take a genius to figure out [he (the student) is] not heterosexual.” He asserts that I must have known from his “mannerisms” that he is “openly gay.” And while it is true that I supposed this student probably was gay, I didn’t know: he and I never had any conversation—verbal or written—about these matters, and he never brought it up in class. His complaint claimed that I “validate [a] heterosexual lifestyle in class.”
That charge was supported by two pieces of evidence: First, that I frequently talked about my wife and children in class. Not exactly a forceful imposition of heteronormativity. Second, the student complained that “[he] never heard [me] once say anything positive about other lifestyles.” Finally, the complaint noted that I said nothing positive “especially when one of the essays [we had to grade] was specifically about ‘Discrimination of Homosexuals.’” He didn’t provide any further detail, but at that point I had a fair idea of the origins of the complaint: My suggestion in class that LGBT workers don’t face anti-gay bias in every area of the work world.