Indiana University may sever financial ties to controversial sex research institute

The Indiana University (IU) Board of Trustees could sever ties with the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction this Friday. The potential split will be the topic of discussion at their next meeting at the Madam Walker legacy center in Indianapolis, which could result in the controversial facility becoming its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The vote was scheduled to occur around 11:10 am. However, near the beginning of the meeting on Friday, President Pamela Whitten and the Board of Trustees voted to table the discussion until a later date.

IU President Pamela Whitten | Courtesy of Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times

Prior to 2016, the Institute was a separate but affiliated nonprofit. 

A letter signed by administrators of the Kinsey Institute suggested that the new structure could put the Institute at risk of closure. 

“The proposed 501c3 structure is radically different from the nonprofit status and strong relationship to IU that the Kinsey Institute maintained prior to the 2016 merger,” a letter signed by administrators of the Kinsey Institute said. “KI becomes vulnerable to dissolution if the board of the new 501c3 dissolves KI after it is severed from IU.”

If the Board of Trustees goes through with the split, the collections and archives of the Kinsey Institute would also remain with IU. The letter claimed this would only be allowed under previous agreements “if required by law or serious financial exigency; or at the request of the Kinsey Institute leadership.”

This past February, Indiana lawmakers voted 53-34 to block state funding of the research institute. 

Private grants and donations only cover two-thirds of the Institute’s budget. According to public records obtained by The Collegiate Commons, the budget amounted to $2,004,558 for the past fiscal year. $1,779,888 of that money was budgeted for compensation of employees.

“I challenge IU to repurpose those funds in the future to help pregnant and parenting students on campus in concrete, real world ways,” said Catherine Woods, a sophomore majoring in violin performance and president of the IU chapter of Students for Life. “I also encourage IU to rethink how it discusses sexuality so that they focus on the dignity, worth, and goodness of every person.” 

When asked her reasoning for introducing the measure that banned state funding from going to the Institute, Republican Rep. Lorissa Sweet said that she hoped it would prevent taxpayer dollars from being used for what she considered child exploitation.

“By limiting the funding to the Kinsey Institute through Indiana University’s tax dollars, we can be assured that we are not funding ongoing research committed by crimes,” she said. 

The Collegiate Commons reached out to Sweet for comment and this article will be updated accordingly.

The Collegiate Commons also reached out to the Kinsey Institute for comment, and they pointed to a recent Q & A released by the Office of Provost & Executive Vice President at Indiana University. The Q & A suggested the motivations for the split were primarily to ensure the university complied with state law.

UNITED STATES – JANUARY 01: Indiana University. Portrait Of Dr Alfred Kinsey. 1948. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Alfred Kinsey, the founder of the Institute, has long been associated with controversy, and many have questioned the validity of his research.

National Review reported that over 300 children were used as test subjects in his research on orgasms, ostensibly based on the past memories of adults or the observations of parents and teachers, as well as pedophiles. No follow-up studies appear to have been conducted on these children themselves to determine how they were impacted by the sexual abuse and experimentation. 

Kinsey extrapolated from this study and others to claim that children were inherently sexual and were only disturbed by sexual abuse because of social conditioning.

“It is difficult to understand why a child, except for its cultural conditioning, should be disturbed at having its genitalia touched, or disturbed at seeing the genitalia of other persons, or disturbed at even more specific sexual contacts,” he wrote in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, referring to the “current hysteria over sex offenders.”

Kinsey would also often fail to report relevant information to the police after interviewing research participants who had committed sexual crimes. 

Woods said she was hopeful that the school had finally come to terms with and could move on from Kinsey’s controversial legacy.

“I am hopeful that IU has finally recognized the need to separate itself from such a questionable institution,” she said. “Anyone who has actually done their research about Alfred Kinsey’s personal work and the work of the institute named for him cannot possibly feel comfortable having their school associated with that.”

Maria Thomas is a freshman studying marketing at Indiana University in Bloomington. Having begun pro-life advocacy in 2019, with a penchant for canvassing, dialogue, and speaking, she is Vice President of the campus’ Students for Life chapter and Founder of ProLifeIndy. She is also Social Media chair of the campus’ Thomistic Institute chapter and loves piano, taekwondo, and her Catholic Faith (in reverse order). She is a reporter and copy-editor for The Collegiate Commons.

UPDATE: A previous version of this article stated that a vote was supposed to occur on Thursday, which was corrected to say Friday. Additionally, the article was updated to show that the motion was tabled on Friday.

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One thought on “Indiana University may sever financial ties to controversial sex research institute

  1. I am disgusted with the idea of I U being involved in ANY WAY with an institute that had a child abuser as their leader. It is deplorable to think my tax dollars would fund such a horrible legacy! PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT I CAN DO TO HELP DEFUND THIS SITUATION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. My fraternity was founded at I U, Kappa Alpha Psi, and I grew up going to I U as a middle school and high school student from Anderson, IN. I am a school teacher and tennis coach and my work with children has shown me the need for morally strong protection from sexual abuse of any kind towards children of any age. I appreciate the light that has been shed on the darkness of I U funding this legacy of child abuse and l pray this will be resolved to improve the safety of children and create a legacy of love and protection for children as soon as possible.

    Thank You,
    ~THE InDELLible

    Dell Pride Tennis Pro /
    Pro Circuit Tennis Player and Coach

    Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity Inc.
    Class of 1991/ Tennessee State Un.

    Indian Mascot, Anderson High School 88″

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