The Wyoming Senate voted Friday to end funding for the University of Wyoming’s gender and women’s studies program, The Hill reported.
By a vote of 16 to 14, the senators passed an amendment to the budget to stop using state money to fund what Senate Education Committee chairman Charles Scott, a Republican, called “an extremely biased, ideologically driven program that I can’t see any academic legitimacy to.”
Republican state senator Cheri Steinmetz brought forth the amendment after reading the program’s goals, which included providing students with an understanding of queer, feminist and social justice theories to be applied to “service and activism,” according to The Hill.
“And so, fellow senators I just have to ask you, what are we doing here at the University of Wyoming with these courses?” Steinmetz asked Friday on the Senate floor. “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 let me sleep without addressing it here in this body today.”
Opponents argued that the Senate was overstepping its bounds.
Republican senator Tara Nethercott acknowledged that the program “appears to have some problems in balance” but said it is “not our place” to interfere in public education.
“The idea that the Legislature would step in and say, ‘Well, we don’t want this being taught or we don’t like that department’ is contrary to the land-grant, the flagship missions,” said Democratic senator Chris Rothfuss. “And I think it would really be disappointing if the university would go down that path where we started to decide what can and can’t be taught, which books we can and can’t read. Those kinds of things—they’re just not consistent with the mission of a university.”
Wyoming’s House will now consider the amendment as part of the Senate’s version of the state budget.