On August 31, FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) released a review of the campaigns targeting faculty for exercising free speech and expression. The FIRE report found “3 in 4” such campaigns resulted in punishment, but the report did not specifically identify the sex differences of scholars targeted in these anti free-speech campaigns, so GIBM analyzed and identified the sex of the targeted scholars.
After reviewing the 426 cases listed in the FIRE database, GIBM learned that males accounted for 71% of scholars targeted for speech and expression. The reasons are varied and come from both the left (61.9%) and the right (34.5%), and it speaks to a larger concern parents of college aged children have expressed to me . Are my sons allowed to speak freely without serious consequences? Some parents have told me they encourage their sons to tell their teachers what they want to hear and avoid any attempt to engage in conversations where their sons' viewpoints may be seen as oppositional to their teachers for fear of various forms of reprisals.
It is reasonable for scholars, students, and parents to worry that males are marginalized in the educational system; something supported by the male college-gender-gap and K-12 educational outcomes. An Indiana University of Pennsylvania Student, Lake Ingle, was barred from class and brought up on disciplinary charges for suggesting there are only two genders.
Perhaps the preeminent retaliatory act that garnered national attention happened to Bret Weinstein, Ph.D., a former tenured professor at Evergreen State University who “faced demands for termination and threats of imminent violence for his comments critical of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on campus.” Weinstein has a long history of supporting all students and was entrusted to continue the mission of the institution as a tenured member of the faculty. Weinstein would eventually resign more out of desperation and the potential loss of any financial recompense.
Men are not the only ones targeted for free speech. According to FIRE, students from Pomona College in Claremont, California called for the “appointment of Alice Goffman to be rescinded because of her book On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City,” a book that addresses the tough on crime impact on black communities. Although we can certainly identify cases where women are impacted, the majority have been male. Attempts to support male and female points of view are necessary and will allow for the types of debates that lead to better outcomes for males and females in the exchange of ideas.