Civil Rights and Liberties
We defend civil rights and liberties guaranteed to each individual, including freedom of speech and expression, equal protection under the law, due process, and the right to personal privacy. We advocate for individuals whose rights and liberties are threatened because of their skin color, ancestry, or other immutable characteristics.
As in decades and centuries past, individual civil rights continue to need unwavering protection against authoritarian forces, whether they come from government overreach, technological advances, or regressive and illiberal orthodoxies in professional, educational, artistic, and other settings. FAIR is committed to playing an essential role in our society by advocating for civil rights and liberties for all individuals, even when those individuals’ views may be distasteful or unpopular. This commitment requires us to advocate both for those whose rights have been violated and for the principles of individual civil rights themselves, as they are the foundation upon which our free and open society depends.
- FAIR Advocates for FAIR values at Brown University
- Brown changes its policies as a result of FAIR’s advocacy
- FAIR Defends Free Speech on Campus at Emory Law School
- FAIR Advocates for FAIR values at Harvard Medical School
- FAIR Advocates for Prohuman antiracism at Janney Elementary
- FAIR Advocates for Prohuman values at St. Catherine University
- FAIR Advocates for Students First Amendment Rights at Kiel Middle School
- Kiel School District Closes Title IX Investigation
- FAIR Advocates for Protecting Students First Amendment Rights
- Fairfax County Schools amend 2022-2023 Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) handbook as a result of FAIR’s advocacy
- FAIR Advocates for prohuman antiracism at PS 158
- FAIR Promotes Prohuman Ethnic Studies
- UC Board Rejects Contested Criteria for Ethnic Studies
FAIR promotes pro-human values, meaning that we advocate for one human race, individual civil rights and liberties, and compassionate opposition to racism and intolerance rooted in dignity and our common humanity.
While intolerance and racism persist in America, they also persist beyond our borders. We stand for universal human rights that allow for individuals—regardless of skin color, sex, creed, ethnicity, religion, or ancestry—to flourish and fulfill their human potential. FAIR promotes human rights for all, no matter where they live or their place of origin, as all humans are intrinsically valuable and deserving of dignity and respect.
FAIR promotes free speech as one of the first principles upon which a free society is based. We defend all speech, regardless of content, within the limits of the law. We promote free speech for all, including individuals who are threatened or persecuted for protected speech, or who are held to a different set of rules based on their skin color, ancestry, or other immutable characteristics. We support respectful disagreement and believe that bad ideas are best confronted with better ideas—never with dehumanization, deplatforming, or blacklisting.
FAIR believes that objective truth exists, that it is discoverable, and that inquiry must be untainted by any political or ideological agenda. The path toward discovering objective truth necessarily includes the exercise of free speech, open inquiry, and the free exchange of ideas.
Book-banning can take many forms, including efforts to remove books from public libraries and book sellers, efforts to pressure publishers not to publish certain books or authors, or efforts to de-platform unpopular authors. It also refers to efforts to remove books from school libraries, classrooms, or curricula. In general, book-banning must be understood as an effort to shut down the open sharing of a diversity of ideas.
FAIR opposes any form of banning or limiting books from public libraries as a form of censorship of ideas. We promote the neutrality and intellectual freedom of libraries —principles which are essential for fostering and maintaining public trust in these institutions.
Over time, libraries have often faced challenges to the ideas of neutrality and intellectual freedom. For example, content warnings—that is, marking materials as possibly offensive—are widely considered a form of censorship. According to the American Library Association (ALA),
In affirming the Freedom to Read, the ALA upholds the value of “the written word [which] may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.”
FAIR opposes all forms of book-banning and broadly supports the freedom to read without interference or censorship.
Libraries in schools and classrooms, particularly in elementary schools, present a somewhat different issue. For these libraries, which are curated by educators, FAIR supports a partnership between parents/guardians and educators in determining whether books are age-appropriate for children based on their grade level. We believe that parents/guardians have the right to advocate for or against particular books being included in school and classroom libraries and curricula. Such decisions should not be made unilaterally and should result from meaningful and robust discussion among all parents/guardians and educators in the community.
Social Media Deplatforming
FAIR defends civil liberties and rights guaranteed to each individual, including freedom of speech and expression. We agree with Frederick Douglass’ position that “liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist,” and that “to suppress free speech is a double wrong” because “it violates the right of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”
While private companies and institutions are free to create and enforce rules of communication and conduct within the boundaries of the law, FAIR believes that promoting a common culture based on fairness, understanding, and humanity includes the creation and preservation of environments where ideas can be freely expressed and examined.
We support respectful disagreement, and believe that bad ideas are best confronted with better ideas—never with dehumanization, deplatforming, or blacklisting. We encourage open-mindedness and a desire to understand opinions and behaviors that are in conflict with our convictions. It is only through a robust, open, and compassionate discourse that we can reach a greater understanding of one another and of ourselves.
FAIR promotes compassionate opposition to racism rooted in dignity and our common humanity. Racism is discrimination against a person or people based on their membership in a particular “racial” or ethnic group. FAIR recognizes that racism has been an important and tragic part of our nation’s history, and that racism remains an issue today. As such, FAIR is committed to fighting racism in all of its forms.
FAIR is working to end racism and discrimination. While reasonable people disagree on the meaning, impact, and nature of systemic racism, many of our institutions are now presuming differential group outcomes are always the result of racism or other bigotry, overlooking our nation’s successes, and promoting a grievance-based, race-essentialist ideology that defines people by their immutable traits and groups them accordingly. This approach can inadvertently promote discrimination and resentment. FAIR unites around its principles of peaceful change, based on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s principles of nonviolence, which emphasize moral courage, bridge-building, compassion, and an opposition to racism and intolerance rooted in love and humanity.
“Color-Transcendence” and “Color-Blindness”
FAIR stands for individual civil rights and liberties for all, regardless of skin color. We believe that skin color arbitrarily divides people based on the fiction of race. We do not interpret “color-blindness” as ignorance or disregard of the realities of racism in our past and present. Rather, we interpret it in the metaphorical sense expressed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which can more accurately be called “color-transcendence.”
We acknowledge differences based on each individual’s experiences, culture, ethnicity, ancestry, and other characteristics. We emphasize the uniqueness of every individual, and at the same time promote an understanding of ourselves and others as members of one human race. We “see” skin color and other differences, but recognize that focusing on our shared humanity is the path to overcoming racism.
Tolerance of differing or dissenting beliefs, values, ideas, and viewpoints is the cornerstone of a liberal society. FAIR advocates for open-mindedness and a sincere desire to understand opinions or behavior that we do not necessarily agree with. That means considering points of view that conflict with our convictions and leaving open the possibility that we may be mistaken, both about our own beliefs and our understanding of the beliefs of others. Most importantly, tolerance means distinguishing between potentially harmful beliefs and behaviors—which we must counter and oppose—and the human beings who hold or exhibit them, whom we must always treat with dignity and compassion.
A school, workplace, or program is pro-human when, in the pursuit of its mission or goals, it recognizes the universality of the human condition, regardless of group identity, and encourages its members to speak their minds freely, openly, and respectfully.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
FAIR believes that diversity, equity, and inclusion are laudable goals for any institution, as they increase a sense of belonging and allow each individual to bring their personality, background, and perspectives to the table. FAIR uses the commonly understood meanings of these words: “Diversity” refers to the existence of unique individuals with different experiences. “Equity” refers to the quality of being fair and impartial. “Inclusion” refers to welcoming diverse people and viewpoints and making all people feel a sense of belonging, regardless of their immutable traits. FAIR recognizes and understands that others may use these terms differently, but we do not cede the values they are intended to represent. Institutions benefit from pro-human efforts at diversity, equity, and inclusion because they allow individuals to see themselves and others as full human beings instead of representatives of identity groups.
Issues in Education
FAIR advocates for classroom environments that foster curiosity, critical thinking, and open and constructive dialogue. Discussions of historic and contemporary racism should include a diversity of sources and viewpoints in order to prevent ideological bias from skewing the way lessons are framed and taught and inhibiting students from reaching their own conclusions. We support ideological neutrality in the classroom, meaning that teachers should expose students to multiple perspectives and sources without bias or favoritism to any particular one.
We believe that the primary purpose of education is to provide students with knowledge and academic skills, and we recognize the important role that schools play alongside parents/guardians in fostering healthy habits of mind such as resilience, curiosity, compassion, and courage. Students should learn that the way forward is not with divisive orthodoxies or cynicism, but with honesty and optimism about our progress as humans. FAIR supports values that expand students’ ability to think for themselves, to fulfill their academic, social, and human potential, and to live a life of meaning.
FAIR opposes illiberalism and race essentialism. We believe that legislation aimed at banning or requiring the teaching of specific ideologies, without a diversity of viewpoints or sources, is misguided. Such legislation will have the deleterious effect of preventing students from acquiring the critical thinking skills they need to succeed and participate in society.
- Why FAIR’s Pro-Human Learning Standards Are Right For YOUR School | Tommy Zhang
- FAIRStory curricular resources
- Ndona Muboyayi: Evil Can Come In Any Skin Color
- Dana Stangel-Plowe: We Need Pro-Human Education, Not Dehumanizing “Culturally Responsive Education”
- Teacher Dana Stangel-Plowe Speaks Out About Dwight-Englewood School
Trust and Partnership between Schools and Families
FAIR promotes the constitutional right of parents/guardians to raise their children as they see fit, which includes decisions about their children’s education. The right to direct the upbringing of one’s child is recognized as a fundamental due process right under the Fourteenth Amendment. FAIR supports open communication and disclosure as not only fundamental to parents’ and guardians’ ability to make appropriate decisions regarding their children’s education, but essential to building trust between schools and families.
As a society, we recognize that children are not developmentally capable of making decisions on matters that can pose harm to themselves and others; for example, we impose age limits on driving, the purchase of cigarettes and alcohol, voting, and marriage. It is families, not institutions, who can best care and make decisions for children. While schools and teachers usually have the best intentions regarding educational material for children, it is families and not schools who should ultimately be responsible for what their children are taught. FAIR supports parents who exercise their right to advocate for books and curricula that are appropriate for children based on grade level.
Issues in Medicine
FAIR supports a common culture in science and medicine that places the humanity of each individual at the center of care. Every person deserves compassionate and excellent medical care from competent and highly-trained clinicians. FAIR also believes that medical care, which should always be based on rigorous scientific inquiry, demands the highest ethical standards of treatment.
Our pro-human approach reconnects us to the lessons learned from historical tragedies when science and medicine became politicized by placing group identity ahead of individual needs, and used science and medicine as a tool for political ends rather than as a means to help each individual heal and flourish. Treating patients differently based on group identity and politics will erode trust in medical institutions and potentially harm patients.
- FAIR v. NYC
- John McWhorter on “The Anti-Science Attitude of the Illiberal Orthodoxy”
- FAIR in Medicine Letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS)
- Health Professionals in the Nazi Era: Learn from the Past, Protect the Future
- FAIR’s Letter to the Department of Health and Human Services About Nondiscrimination in Health Care
Advancing science and medical care requires a culture that supports free speech and inquiry. FAIR supports the scientific method and rigorous inquiry in the search for objective truth, which is essential for medical research and excellence in health care. FAIR defends scientists, physicians, and other healthcare clinicians who are threatened or persecuted for raising concerns about patient safety, weakening of medical education standards, unethical research and practice, or any medical pursuit tainted by activism or regressive or divisive ideologies.
Medical Education and Training
FAIR’s mission to promote a common culture based on fairness, understanding, and humanity aligns with the heart of medical training that provides excellent care for each individual without regard to ethnicity, skin color, sex, gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, or socioeconomic status. Teaching students to maintain professionalism and objectivity even when treating those with whom they may have different backgrounds or beliefs is the cornerstone of their clinical, ethical, and legal duties. Seeing themselves or their patients as a group identity first, rather than an individual, is dehumanizing and may lead to inappropriate care. The special covenant between patient and medical professional depends on the trust that each patient will be treated as a unique individual deserving of the best care available by a well trained, objective clinician.
Identity Group Standards for Hiring and Admissions
Our pro-human philosophy means that we advocate for treating people as unique individuals who share a common humanity, and not as interchangeable representatives of identity groups. We believe that many policies and programs intended to support individuals from historically underrepresented groups easily align with our values of fairness, understanding, and humanity. However, policies or programs that discriminate against individuals in order to meet certain group-based outcomes are inconsistent with FAIR’s stated principles, as well as the legal protections afforded to individuals by the U.S. Constitution and civil rights laws.
Issues of Gender
FAIR’s mission is to advance civil rights and liberties for all, and to promote a common culture based on fairness, understanding, and humanity. Our pro-human principles recognize that each of us is unique, that we are united by our shared humanity, and that all human beings are worthy of compassion, dignity, and respect.
Our pro-human approach to the topic of gender compels us to treat each person as a unique and intrinsically valuable individual, and to discuss complex topics such as gender with compassion and respect for all.
In recent years, some people have begun to think differently about sex and gender. Originally, “gender” was used mostly as a polite way to refer to someone’s sex, but over the years, some have started to use the term to mean something different. A growing number of people now think of gender as purely “socially constructed,” with little or no reference to sex.
FAIR recognizes the scientific reality that people are either male or female as defined by our reproductive systems. A very small number of people, only 0.0018% of live births, have some elements of both sexes. Some individuals experience confusion or dysphoria around their sex, and they can develop an identity around gender that is incongruous with their sex, which many refer to as “gender identity” or simply “gender”—meant as separate from their biological sex—usually based on an internal sense of self in the context of cultural norms and stereotypes.
FAIR’s position is that every person is a unique individual, and that gender norms and stereotypes do not describe the full range of human experience; some people align with traditional gender norms and some do not. The pro-human approach is to respect each individual’s choice and views on the role of gender in their lives. FAIR advocates for the rights of each individual to live their lives and express themselves in their own way, and not to pathologize or seek to label an individual’s nonconformity with gender norms.
We support the rights of individuals to use for themselves whatever pronouns they wish and, in the case of minor children, we support pronoun usage that is consistent with the fundamental due process rights of their parents or legal guardians. We do not, however, support institutional or ideological pressure on individuals to conform to, accept, or adopt ideas, behaviors, and opinions that do not align with their own beliefs, values, and temperaments, which would result in compelled speech. We believe that, when considering whether to replace sex-based distinctions with those based on an individual’s “gender identity,” local institutions should determine which approach is best for them only after meaningful and respectful participation by all stakeholders and careful consideration of those stakeholders’ views and preferences.
Gender Issues in Schools
FAIR believes that we must teach children the objective truth on matters of scientific fact. We advocate for age-appropriate instruction around sex, with biology and science as foundational before considering more controversial ideas around gender and gender identity.
Many schools, however, are teaching children that gender and biological sex are spectrums—with many different points on them and labels within them, and with “gender” unconnected to “biological sex.” This approach aims to account for a wide range of identities. The idea of a “spectrum” sounds flexible, but the way it is being taught in some schools requires children to reject biology and to accept and reinforce gender norms and stereotypes.
Too often when children exhibit behaviors or preferences that don’t match up with the stereotypes of their biological sex, they are told it’s a sign that they’re transgender. This risks confusing children, whose identity formation and self-understanding are still developing. This confusion can lead some to consider serious and irreversible medical interventions. The pro-human approach is to give children the space to play, imagine, and explore, without forcing them into labels or rigid categories.
Moreover, FAIR supports complete and open communication between parents/guardians and educators in order to promote what is best for children. As with other psychological, emotional, social, or academic issues that children may face at school, educators should inform families when a child is experiencing confusion or dysphoria around gender at school. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “parents…are better situated than others to understand the unique needs of their children and to make appropriate, caring decisions regarding their children’s health care.” That is because parents and guardians know their children best, and we support their constitutional right to make the determination of what is best for their children.
FAIR’s position is to support healthy and transparent partnerships among parents/guardians, educators, and medical professionals who are fulfilling their professional obligations with the appropriate standard of care and knowledge of all sides of a clinical debate. The pro-human approach to children’s gender confusion or dysphoria is for children to be treated as whole human beings—whose growth and development are still evolving—rather than essentialized into a rigid or medicalized group identity.
We believe that our values of constructive and open dialogue, understanding, curiosity, compassion, and courage can help individuals navigate the complex issues facing educators, parents/guardians, and children.