State Department Offering Grants Up to $450,000 for Colleges to Develop ‘Intersectional Programming’

Grants to 'promote and protect the human rights of persons with disabilities, women and girls, LGBTI persons'

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The State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor is offering grants up to $450,000 for institutions of higher learning and non-profit organizations to develop "intersectional programming."

Grants starting at $250,000 will be expended eligible applicants to "promote and protect the human rights of persons with disabilities, women and girls, LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex) persons, and other marginalized individuals."

The bureau notes it has some $900,000 to spend on this project.

Applicants will be expected to either start new programs or improve existing initiatives that "take an intersectional approach to addressing violence and discrimination targeting marginalized populations, which undermine society's collective security, and programs that provide marginalized populations with tools to prevent, mitigate, and recover from violence."

The application period began at the end of the last month and will run until Oct. 27.

The State Department grant description applauds intersectionality for "recogniz[ing] that multiple social identities such as gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, race, or ethnicity intersect in a marginalized individual's experience and are affected by the broader existence of privilege and oppression in society."

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor writes in the grant announcement that "members of excluded and vulnerable groups share common strategies to defend their human rights, as well as to mitigate and prevent human rights abuse."

Applicants are encouraged to focus on "social inclusion" programming.

Developed by critical race theorist and Columbia University law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1980s, intersectionality argues that all forms of oppression inform one another, and that historically oppressed groups should organize in joint resistance against their common tormentors. The concept has increasingly received national attention in recent years as student campus groups and elements of the political left have adopted the principle as key to their efforts.

Legal scholar and life-long Democrat Alan Dershowitz has derided the theory as the "phoniest academic doctrine I have encountered in 53 years [in academia]," criticizing it for prioritizing group identities, rather than focusing on individual character.

A Columbia undergraduate recently panned intersectionality as exclusionary in practice, writing in the student paper that individuals seen as countering the identities of one group in an intersectional coalition may be "unwelcomed" by all of the united student organizations. The student wrote that she was excluded from feminist elements of the Barnard Columbia Solidarity Network—which she said functions "as if all the clubs were part of a single body"—because she is a Zionist and one of the BCSN member groups, Students for Justice in Palestine, is anti-Israel.