A conservative activist backed by Ron Desantis has been named in a civil rights complaint against a Florida college — after he misrepresented an educator who used the pronouns ze/zir.
The Biden administration’s Department of Education opened an investigation into New College of Florida after receiving a complaint last month alleging that school leadership created a “hostile” environment for transgender and disabled students and staff.
The complaint, filed Aug. 24 with the DOE’s Office of Civil Rights, names Board of Trustees member Christopher Rufo, who was appointed to the New College board by DeSantis in January.
It is alleged that Rufo, who is also a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, targeted specific students, parents and staff with “sexist and transphobic taunts.”
In one incident, the right-wing activist allegedly “mocked and misrepresented” New College’s Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence (OOIE) director Yoleidy Rosario-Hernandez after “she was summarily fired,” a copy said of the complaint shared by Rufo on his Substack.
Ze is a neopronoun, a form of personal pronoun preferred by some non-binary people who feel that conventional pronouns – including they/them – do not accurately reflect their gender identity.
In a March post on
“New College of Florida has fired its former DEI Director Yoleidy Rosario-Hernandez (“ze/zir”) after she disbanded her department.” Rufo wrote.
“Rosario-Hernandez attacked me in the Washington Post, but I wish her well and hope she takes advantage of the opportunity to develop useful skills.”
Rufo is also named in the complaint for allegedly claiming that LGBTQ+ people have “synthetic sexual political identities” and that transgender people have “personal psychopathologies.”
“Trustee Rufo mocks transgender students, calls new college students mentally ill, and blames their mothers,” the complaint states.
The complaint cited a variety of other “hostilities” against marginalized groups at New College, including the removal of gender-neutral restroom signage and the elimination of the college’s diversity program.
The board is also accused of being “openly hostile toward students, faculty and staff at New College on the basis of race, gender, religion and disability.”
Rufo criticized the investigation on Friday, stressing that the allegations were baseless and would not survive a formal investigation.
“This is a brazen attempt to undermine New College’s democratic governance and entrench left-wing ideological agendas under the guise of civil rights law,” he wrote in his Substack newsletter.
“The Biden administration has repeatedly shown that it is willing to use the federal law enforcement apparatus as a weapon against school parents and other conservative reformers.”
The Post has reached out to the New School and the U.S. Department of Education.
At the time, the presidential candidate said he hoped to transform the small liberal arts school into Hillsdale College of the South, a private, conservative Christian school in Michigan.