California Bans Travel by Students to States Not Deemed Supportive of LGBT Rights

The nation will always have a healthy debate over issues such as taxation, foreign policy, and government spending. This is normal and just part of the democratic process at work. Then there are issues that deeply impact our culture and identity as a people. These debates turn ugly and reveal divisions within our society that are difficult to heal. Such debates are now going on with regard to immigration, gender issues, and more.

California is a state that is clearly a center for liberal ideologies and politics. As one of the “bluest” of blue states, it's one place to look if one wishes to examine both mainstream liberal thinking as well as more extreme versions. It's not that the entire state is homogeneous on these issues, but the large population centers that set the political agenda for California certainly are hubs of leftist thought and policy.

The problem they now have is that their rabid support for LGBT advocacy has led them to enact laws that are working against the ability of their university students to fully take advantage of opportunities to which they would otherwise be entitled.

UC Davis senior Acacia Keith was excited to present her research on the anti-abortion movement at what would have been her first national conference this spring.

The Council on Undergraduate Research conference, which showcases work by more than 3,000 undergraduates, is considered a premier opportunity to make an academic mark and network for jobs and graduate programs. UC Davis was going to pay for Keith to travel there.

But there’s a problem. The conference is being held this year at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. A new California law bans state-funded travel to states that discriminate against the LGBT community. And the California attorney general has listed Tennessee as one of them, along with Kansas, North Carolina and Mississippi.

Keith is not the only one affected by this law. There are other students at UC Davis and other California universities who cannot access state funding for this trip.

At least 18 students at UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Long Beach planned to attend the Memphis conference with their trips paid by the state schools. More than 100 Californians were selected for the April gathering, but Elizabeth Ambos, the council’s executive director, could not say how many attended public universities that are subject to the law.

And the issue extends to athletics as well.

The law also has led to the cancellation of preliminary talks between UC Berkeley and the University of Kansas for a men’s basketball series, the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World reported.

Kansas is on the banned list because it adopted a law last year that allows campus religious groups to exclude LGBT students and faculty from membership.

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Tennessee was included because of a 2016 law that allows allows therapists and counselors with “sincerely held principles” to reject LGBT clients.

Students, good liberals that they so often are, remain supportive of the ban on travel in spite of the disappointment in not being able to attend important events in the targeted states. That said, one student had an interesting take on this:

But Mark Rivera, a UC Davis senior majoring in religious studies and cognitive science, said he wants to attend if he can find funding. He said it was more important to talk with people with different values than to shun them — especially at a time of such political polarization.

“The law is a juvenile but well-intended reaction to a real problem,” Rivera said. “Instead of discouraging travel to supposedly backward places, we should encourage travel; otherwise, campuses will become more insular and make the problem worse.”

The law is ridiculous. We once again are confronted with universities betraying the traditions of open scholarship and free speech. In their zeal to push a leftist ideology, California officials are cutting their students off from opportunities to dialog with and confront issues with those who might have different viewpoints.

Perhaps California is concerned its students might be “contaminated” by ideas that are not government-approved. Perhaps in their self-righteousness they don't believe such states are worthy of their involvement. In any event, the law is more than just “juvenile” as Rivera said. It's an extremist position that that does nothing to improve the education of the state's students. And here all along we were told it's the liberals who are truly the champions of education.

Source: Los Angeles Times



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