News of the NEH's reported bias against gay-related research first surfaced in a presentation by gay historian Marc Stein at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association earlier this month in Philadelphia.
The academic journal Inside Higher Education published an article on Stein
's presentation, drawing responses from as many as a dozen other gay scholars who reported being denied grants from the NEH
because of alleged anti-gay bias, Stein told the Blade.
own experience and reports by other gay academics who have applied for NEH grants raise strong doubts about Lokkesome's claims of non-bias.Stein is an American citizen who teaches history at York University in Toronto, where he serves as coordinator of the university's Sexuality Studies Program.
presentation before the AHA meeting, he
described how he
applied in 2003 for an NEH grant to study the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings on sexual freedom issues, such as birth control, interracial marriage, obscenity, abortion, and gay rights issues, between 1965 and 1973.
Knowing that most of the thousands of grant applications received by the NEH
are turned down, Stein
did not think it unusual when NEH
informed him it had rejected his
was surprised a short time later when he
discovered that an academic peer review panel that reviews grant applications gave him its highest rating and recommended that his
proposal be approved.
Politics trumps academics?Stein
was even more surprised, he
said, when he
learned that an NEH council
appointed by President Bush overturned the recommendation of the academic panel.The council and NEH chair Bruce Cole, a Bush appointee, then turned down his grant proposal, Stein
"Professional societies are asking why they are applying political criteria to overturn academic decisions," Stein
believes the reports of anti-gay bias by NEH
were corroborated by an informal survey he
conducted by entering the key words "gay," "lesbian," and "homosexuality" in an NEH search engine for titles of grant applications approved for funding.He
could find no grants with those words in the titles of grants approved during the Bush administration, Stein
"This doesn't mean that a gay-related project using another name has not been funded," he
said large numbers of academic papers and articles by gay researchers appearing in journals often use these words in their titles, raising the possibility that proposals with similar words in the titles were submitted and rejected by the NEH
interview with Inside Higher Education, NEH
spokesperson Lokkesmoe acknowledged that the NEH, under the Bush administration, resumed using a process known as "flagging" grant applications on certain subjects.
The practice was stopped during the Clinton administration, according to Stein