House Armed Services Committee members Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.) are seeking answers from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point after learning cadets were forced to participate in sensitivity training on “understanding and respecting” others’ preferred pronouns.
According to the “facilitator guide” obtained by The Epoch Times, the required training involved a role-play exercise during which one character was instructed to “educate” the others about “respecting pronouns.” The stated purpose of the exercise was “for cadets to gain competence in their bystander intervention skills.”
Questioning the exercise in a March 21 letter to West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Steve Gilland, Waltz and Banks noted that the exercise was included as part of the academy’s sexual assault prevention programming.
“It is unclear to us as veterans how an exercise regarding preferred pronouns pertains to sexual assault prevention in the military or service academies,” the congressmen wrote.
Further stressing that the “politicized” training could distract from the academy’s primary mission and erode trust in the U.S. military, the lawmakers said they felt the exercise was “problematic, dismissive of mainstream viewpoints, and unnecessarily creates conflict between cadets with opposing cultural views, all of which negatively affects unit cohesion.
“Moreover, this exercise represents yet another instance of West Point leadership implementing policies and directives that encourage cadets to focus on their differences rather than subordinate them to collectively accomplish the overall mission and purpose. The first is the antithesis of a team, the latter is the essence of a team.”
Marching to the Left
West Point, in a March 7 statement, touted the bystander intervention training as part of an initiative to address “harmful behaviors” and decrease “unwanted sexual contact in any form.”
“West Point is fully committed to implementing programs focused on preventing harmful behaviors and building confidence in all personnel to intervene and stop negative behavior. Safe, positive environments promote healthy, cohesive, and disciplined teams that our nation expects from us,” Gilland said. “We take any allegation seriously and investigate appropriately using our dedicated resources.”
According to the congressmen, however, some West Point cadets expressed discomfort with the “politicized nature” of the sessions and other activities that have taken place at the school, which has faced increasing scrutiny over its incorporation of critical race theory and gender ideologies in its teachings and practices.
In a March 22 statement, Waltz, who chairs the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, noted: “Over the last two years, we’ve seen a disturbing trend taking place at our military academies that puts politics over service. We have an obligation to ensure military academies such as West Point are prioritizing the education and training of future military officers rather than implementing the political priorities of the Biden administration.
“Every minute our soldiers spend in sensitivity training is a minute they could be at the rifle range,” he added. “Chinese and Russian soldiers certainly won’t be focused on what pronoun a U.S. soldier uses.”
Meanwhile, Banks, who chairs the Military Personnel Subcommittee, said the training demonstrated the increasing influence of the political left on the U.S. military.
“Cadets were forced to participate in preferred pronoun play-acting during training time allotted to prevent sexual assault in the military,” he noted.
“This exemplifies how divisive and radical left-wing ideologies are creeping into our service academies and edging out consensus and reasonable goals. Chairman Waltz and I will continue to hold accountable partisan officials who are poisoning our military with wokeness.”
In their Tuesday letter, the lawmakers asked Gilland to confirm the authenticity of the training guide they’d received and explain how and why it was developed.
The Epoch Times has reached out to West Point for further comment.