Wyoming Senate Votes To Terminate University Gender Studies Program

By Rick Gonzales | Published

University Warns Professors Not To Discuss Abortions Or Contraception With Students

wyoming gender studies

It was by the narrowest of margins, but Wyoming lawmakers passed an amendment to the state budget eliminating funding for the University of Wyoming’s Gender and Women’s Studies program. Lawmakers’ concerns regarding this program revolved around state monies being used to fund educational and extracurricular programs deemed “biased.” This amendment, if fully passed, will have a huge impact on the University.

The amendment, which was brought forward by Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle, caused much division when it was first introduced to the Wyoming lawmakers. But Steinmetz claims she lost sleep when she read some of the University of Wyoming Gender Studies program goals. Ultimately, she felt action needed to be taken.

While on the floor bringing forth the amendment, Steinmetz read aloud a number of course goals that caused her sleepless nights. These included goals to “gain knowledge of multiple forms of oppression and marginalization”; “Understand historical and contemporary context in which women, queer, and gender non-conforming individuals have exercised their agency”, “articulate interrelated and intersectional nature of feminist, LGBTQ+, racial, disability, environmental, immigration, labor, and economic justice movements”; and “apply theoretical frameworks of feminism, gender and women’s studies, queer studies, sexuality studies.”

“And so, I just have to ask you, what are we doing here at the University of Wyoming with these courses?” Steinmetz said via Wyoming News. “I would ask for your favorable consideration to direct our funds in a more appropriate manner for taxpayer dollars, and just vote your conscience on this one because my conscience won’t sleep without addressing it here in this body today.”

While the Wyoming Gender Studies vote was virtually split, supporters of the bill’s amendment say what it came down to was that the program, in their estimation, lacked merit. Opponents claim government overreach, but arguments were made saying that it was Wyoming lawmakers to determine if it was appropriate for the University to use state dollars to fund activism, political indoctrination, and a one-sided approach.

“This is an extremely biased, ideologically driven program that I can’t see any academic legitimacy to,” Senate Education Committee Chairman state Sen. Charles Scott (R) said through The Hill. “I think we’ll hear complaints about how we’re interfering in the internals of the university, but I think what we’re really doing is sending them a message that they need to clean up their act in terms of the quality of the instruction that’s being given.”

Other lawmakers saw it differently. While opponents to the bill say they didn’t like the Wyoming Gender Studies program, the program itself didn’t warrant lawmakers to stop funding it. They also questioned Wyoming Legislature’s authority in taking away academic freedom.

“Is this amendment in violation of the equal protection clause of the United States and Wyoming constitutions?” Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne asked. “This amendment is so broad. It’s completely unacceptable, and I believe likely unconstitutional and completely unlawful. I appreciate that you don’t like the program. It appears to have some problems in balance, I will submit that. This is not our place.”

The removal of the University of Wyoming’s Gender Studies did not sit well with many as it was announced across social media. Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and conservative activist, tweeted out his pleasure of the Wyoming Senate passage of the amendment and was immediately hit with a barrage of discontent. Here are some of the responses:

But not all were taking aim at Rufo. He had plenty of support when it came to posting the amendment. Some read: