(NEW YORK)— PEN America, responding to the Indiana legislature’s defunding of the Kinsey Institute, called the move another “alarming step” in the nationwide effort to exert political control over universities.

Jeremy C. Young, Freedom to Learn program director, said: “This decision should alarm anyone who cares about the integrity of higher education. It is horrifying that the Indiana legislature would ignore university experts and defund a research institute on the basis of debunked conspiracy theories. The Kinsey Institute produces research about sexual violence, reproductive health, and other issues of critical public concern. Politicians should never dictate what topics can and cannot be explored in an academic environment, least of all on the basis of misinformation.” 

The legislature passed a budget amendment last month that bans state funding for the Indiana University-based institute that focuses on sex, sexuality, and gender. In cutting funding for the institute, legislators cited false and debunked claims that historical and current figures associated with the Institute were “child predators.”

The University president released a statement last month defending the Institute and lamenting the loss of funding, and pledged to maintain support for the Institute while following state law. The Institute’s director has described the ban as “an unprecedented action that takes aim at the very foundation of academic freedom.”

Young said: “This act of government overreach will have negative ramifications for the Institute and the university at large. It also represents an alarming step in the nationwide expansion of political control over universities. Such an environment is perilous for intellectual freedom.”

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057