EXCLUSIVE: The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado is encouraging cadets to apply for a fellowship program for “gender minorities” that specifies “cisgender” men need not apply.
The academy sent an email on Sept. 14 informing cadets that the 2023 application for the Brooke Owens Fellowship for “undergraduate women and gender minorities interested in aerospace” is due by Oct. 10.
The application on the fellowship’s website says, “If you are a cisgender man, this program isn’t for you.”
“If you are a cisgender woman, a transgender woman, non-binary, agender, bigender, two-spirit, demigender, genderfluid, genderqueer, or another form of gender minority, this program is for you,” the application states. “If you are a cisgender man, this program isn’t for you… but we encourage you to check out our spinoff programs, the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship and the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program.”
The USAFA’s email said the Brooke Owens Fellowship is a “nine-week paid internship at a leading aerospace company” and that any undergraduate who is a “woman or gender minority” is welcome to apply.
Another nine-week paid internship mentioned in the email, the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship, is only available for Black cadets pursuing aerospace careers.
Fox News Digital obtained the email from a concerned cadet who requested anonymity in order to avoid retaliatory measures/professional repercussions. The cadet alleged that the USAFA is hyper-focused on diversity and inclusion (D&I) instead of the military threats the country faces.
“It’s a little worrying that we have more briefs about D&I than briefs about foreign adversaries, emerging technologies or current events across the world,” the cadet said.
Fox News Digital reported Thursday that a D&I training by the USAFA instructs cadets to use words that “include all genders” and to refrain from saying things like “mom” and “dad.”
The slide presentation titled, “Diversity & Inclusion: What it is, why we care, & what we can do,” provided to Fox News Digital by Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., advises cadets to use “person-centered” and gender-neutral language when describing individuals.
“Some families are headed by single parents, grandparents, foster parents, two moms, two dads, etc.: consider ‘parent or caregiver’ instead of ‘mom and dad,'” the presentation states. “Use words that include all genders: ‘Folks’ or ‘Y’all’ instead of ‘guys’; ‘partner’ vs. ‘boyfriend or girlfriend.’”
“Not ‘Colorblind’ or ‘I don’t see color,’ but Color Conscious,” it adds. “We see Color/Patterns AND VALUE people for their uniqueness.”
Waltz, a Green Beret and Afghan War veteran, pointed out during an interview with Fox News Digital on Wednesday that “it’s been a tradition in the military to get letters from mom and dad or your boyfriend and girlfriend for as long as there’s been a military.”
“Now we’re instructing every cadet entering the Air Force to not say ‘mom’ and ‘dad,’ to not say ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend,’ and this kind of drive towards gender neutrality,” he said. “I think the Air Force should be worried about the macro aggressions against America that are happening all over the world.”
The USAFA also offers a “Cadet Wing Diversity and Inclusion Program,” where graduates are given a purple rope to wear across their left shoulder “symbolizing their position as a diversity representative” so that they can “advise students on diversity,” according to a press release.
An Air Force Academy spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News Digital on Wednesday that the D&I training is to help prepare cadets for “warfighting effectiveness.”
“As part of the Diversity & Inclusion Cadet Leadership Program, this conversation was developed by cadet leaders and USAFA staff to introduce all cadets to Department of the Air Force definitions of diversity and inclusion, as well as how these concepts enhance our warfighting effectiveness,” the spokesperson said. “USAFA develops leaders of character that can lead diverse teams of Airmen and Guardians inclusively, to enhance innovation and win future conflict.
“It is the diversity of Airmen and Guardians coming from all corners of our nation who perform the Department of the Air Force’s hundreds of critical mission sets that make us the best, most innovative Air and Space Forces the world has ever known,” the spokesperson said.
In a second statement Thursday afternoon, the USAFA clarified that it “does not prohibit the use of ‘mom and dad’ or other gender specific terms.”
“The Air Force Academy does not prohibit the use of ‘mom and dad’ or other gender-specific terms,” Superintendent Lt. Gen. Rich Clark said. “The recent briefing on diversity and inclusion is being taken out of context and misrepresented; the slide in question was not intended to stand alone.”
“First and foremost, the briefing centered on respect for others and the warfighting imperative of leveraging diverse perspectives to solve our nation’s most difficult national security problems,” Clark added. “Our strategic competitors are doing the opposite. Our American diversity is a strategic advantage and opens the door to creative solutions, providing a competitive edge in air, space and cyberspace.”
The academy did not respond to Fox News Digital’s inquiries Thursday about the Brooke Owens Fellowship.