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Indiana University work around for Kinsey Institute funding ban draws criticism

University wants to run nonprofit entity to avoid state ban on funds

Indiana University’s proposal to keep its sex research center open without public funding faces criticism from advocacy groups who questioned the proposal.

Furthermore, the Bloomington public university has not answered questions from The College Fix about the legality of its approach to a state funding ban on the Kinsey Institute.

The board of trustees is considering whether to create a nonprofit to help manage and fund the on-campus think tank after a state budget barred public funds from going to the center. Legislators defunded the center last year over ethical concerns about its work, including research by its late founder (pictured) who interviewed pedophiles to learn about children’s sexual tendencies.

Indiana’s current budget forbids using public funds “to pay for the administration, operation, or programs of the Kinsey Institute.”

The board tabled a vote on the idea in November and will meet again in late February.

“In compliance with state law, the new nonprofit entity would not receive any state appropriations,” the university’s website says.

The College Fix asked IU’s media team via email to clarify how it would avoid using state funds in these efforts but did not receive a response to two inquiries sent in the past several weeks. The Fix also tried to reach the media team by phone twice.

Kinsey Institute employees, who operate out of a university building and use IU email addresses, have previously deferred comment requests to the school.

Conservative groups argued this strategy is an attempt to avoid accountability in comments to The Fix.

“Legislatures across the United States have finally begun to take interest in the goings-on at the higher education institutions they fund,” Chance Layton, director of communications at the National Association of Scholars, told The Fix via email. “Unsurprisingly, some of those legislators will find fault with particular programs or departments not integral to the institution’s mission as chartered by the legislature and attempt to defund those programs.”

“The Kinsey Institute seems to be a victim of this new care and deliberation paid to tax dollars in higher education,” Layton said.

“Indiana’s ban on state funds to the Institute seems obviously clear,” Layton said. “Indiana University is violating legislative intent by attempting to bypass the legislature via a non-profit holding to fund the Institute.”

“Clearly, IU cares little for the legislature’s disdain,” Layton told The Fix.

IU’s website explains that “current Kinsey Institute faculty and staff will remain IU employees,” which means they are public employees. The institute “would continue to operate at Indiana University,” according to the university.

IU has condemned the move to defund as harmful to “academic freedom” and asked for donations to “defend the right to conduct sex research.”

But the school’s “blatant effort to skirt the law” shows “how out-of-touch and arrogant America’s so-called higher-education system has become,” said S. T. Karnick, senior fellow at the Heartland Institute. The conservative think tank fellow regularly comments on culture and education.

“Indiana lawmakers should force the university to follow the law or suffer serious budgetary consequences,” Karnick said.

A conservative group said the proposal at least “does seem to violate the spirit of the law” regardless of if it is technically legal or not.

“Indiana University should be ashamed of itself for attempting to support and protect an Institute founded in perversion and abuse,” Liberty Counsel’s Hugh Phillips told The Fix via email. “It’s unethical and unscientific history should disqualify it from support from a public institution and the State of Indiana was right to directly defund the Institute.”

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IU Professor Alfred Kinsey founded the institute in 1947 and used it for research that led to his influential “Kinsey Reports” on human sexuality.

The scholar recorded the supposed sexual pleasure of children based on descriptions from a child rapist and other adults. His team agreed not to report admitted pedophiles over to law enforcement.

The Kinsey Reports argued that “cultural conditioning” and “hysteria” are why some children react negatively to sexual abuse from adults.

“Indiana University’s repeated characterization of the Kinsey Institute as a ‘beacon of academic freedom’ is laughable,” Karnick, with the Heartland Institute, told The Fix. “Academic freedom is meant to foster a healthy questioning of conventional wisdom, not the protection of enormously harmful myths based on phony, biased data gathered from convicted criminals and through documentation of lawless acts against innocent children.”

Not everyone thinks IU’s proposal is questionable, however.

The fact that IU’s board postponed the vote on its workaround suggests it wants to “follow the directions of the legislature,” according to Lloyd Mayer, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame.

“I think it was wise for the board of trustees to table things for now to ensure it would work legally,” Mayer told The Fix in a phone interview. He studies tax law and nonprofits, according to his faculty bio.

The Indiana attorney general’s office declined to comment on its legality. “Our jurisdiction does include nonprofits, but there is nothing to provide at this point,” spokesperson Josh DeFonce told The Fix.

Students for Life Action wants to see the institute ended. “Hopefully, the people of Indiana will make it clear that Kinsey needs to go out of business for good,” Kristi Hamrick told The Fix. Hamrick was first involved with advocacy against the Kinsey Institute in 1994 while at Family Research Council.

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Hudson Crozier is a student at the University of North Texas studying journalism and political science. He is senior contributor for Upward News and has also written for The Federalist, Red Liberty Media, and others.