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FIRST ON FOX: Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican, grilled the Air Force over the diversity training that replaced “mom” and “dad” with gender-neutral terms, calling it “un-American.”
Fox News Digital exclusively obtained Cotton’s letter to Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark on Friday, demanding answers from him regarding the “diversity and inclusion” training exercises the academy put cadets through.
“Cadets were reportedly instructed to refrain from using terms such as ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ or ‘mom’ and ‘dad,’ and instead use terms that ‘include all gender,’” Cotton noted, citing Fox News Digital’s reporting.
“The training also condemns the use of the term ‘colorblind’ or the claim that someone does not ‘see color,’” the Arkansas senator continued. “Even the term ‘terrorist’ was deemed inappropriate.”
“These divisive and un-American training exercises have no place in our military and demonstrate an alarming lack of focus at the Airforce (sic) Academy,” Cotton wrote. “The Airforce (sic) Academy ought to teach future airmen to revere our nation’s traditions and values, not to have contempt for them.”
Cotton warned that the Air Force Academy’s “increasing politicization is damaging the institution’s reputation” as well as the branch as a whole, and he asked the Air Force Academy to confirm the training happened and answer several questions regarding it.
Fox News Digital first reported on Thursday the training that advised cadets to use “gender-neutral” language in the name of inclusivity.
A spokesperson for the Air Force denied to Fox News Digital that cadets could not use the terms, though the original report detailed cadets were told they should not use the terms.
“The Air Force Academy does not prohibit the use of ‘mom and dad’ or other gender-specific terms,” the spokesperson 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,” the spokesperson continued. “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 spokesperson said the “slide on ‘inclusive language’ was intended to demonstrate how respect for others should be used to build inclusive teams, producing more effective warfighting units.”
“Understanding a person’s context shows respect,” they added. “Until you know a person’s situation, we should not make assumptions about them.”
The slide presentation titled, “Diversity & Inclusion: What it is, why we care, & what we can do,” 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.”
The documents were shared with Fox News Digital by Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., a Green Beret and Afghan War veteran, who said the materials had alarmed cadets. Fox News Digital verified the documents’ authenticity.