If only the parents would keep quiet and get out of the way, then the LGBT activists and their friends in government could do what they want with our schools and our children.
That is the attitude confronting parents in Fairfax County, Va., one of the largest school systems in the country with 187,000 students. And the chief force aligned against parents and children is their own elected school board.
The Fairfax County School Board has been controlled by liberals for decades, by outsize margins. The School Board has grown so accustomed to ignoring the appeals made by those outside their political party that today they feel quite free to make policy changes without any pretext of compromise and with no respect for the views of parents.
Lately they have pushed controversial gender identity politics into every corner of the public school experience in Fairfax County: re-writing the Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook, changing the sex ed curriculum, changing categories of discrimination, pushing inappropriate sex surveys for kids, etc.
Well, Fairfax parents have had enough.
A large and well-organized group of parent activists have come together to fight the Board. They’ve created a resource designed to inform and empower parents about the Gender Identity policies facing Fairfax families as children return to school.
By completing five simple actions, parents in Fairfax County can add their voices to the chorus to promote common sense, safety, and privacy.
Specifically, the resource presents step-by-step instructions to:
Decline to Sign the Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) Handbook (forcing acceptance of gender identity politics).
Protect children from Guidance, Health, and other lessons that include Gender Identity instruction by demanding an opt out.
Opt children out of the newly revised, needlessly explicit, and age inappropriate Family Life Education (FLE) program.
Opt children out of the Youth/Sex Survey that educational bureaucrats use to justify the inclusion of explicit content in curricula for younger and younger grades.
Voice opposition to the controversial, nontransparent transgender Policy 1450.
The LGBT school agenda will reach your system sooner or later, so this resource is important for all parents.
My husband Austin Ruse writes in Crisis Magazine today about a new report just published in The New Atlantis—a meta-analysis of many dozens of studies on homosexuality and transgenderism. The results topple most claims made by the homosexual activist agenda.
The paper is being widely covered in Christian and conservative press, but has received nothing but mockery, sneering and name-calling in the liberal press, even though its authors are both highly-respected psychiatrists.
Lawrence Mayer has held full-time tenured positions at a number of prestigious universities, including Princeton, Stanford, and currently Johns Hopkins.
Paul McHugh, educated at Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, was for 25 years the head of psychiatry for the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and is still associated with Johns Hopkins.
Mayer and McHugh reviewed dozens of studies in the fields of biology, psychology, and the social sciences and found that the science does not support the popular claims of the liberal media, academics, and others, that homosexuality is inborn and therefore unchangeable. They also found that the science does not support virtually any of the claims made by the transgender movement today.
One of the most important conclusions is that 80% of adolescents who are gender confused end up as normal adults in their 20s. This finding sounds the alarm against attempts to “transition” adolescents from one sex to another.
Their paper is academics at a very high level, yet LGBT activists and their friends have refused to engage in any meaningful way. Human Rights Campaign refers to the authors as “anti-trans all-stars,” and various blogs have even slandered the authors as religious bigots, though there is nothing remotely religious in their paper.
The LGBT activist lobby believes it has reached a point in the debate where it needn’t engage the arguments at all.
Mary Eberstadt offers a concise diagnosis of the growing problem of hostility to religious freedom in the Western world, in her new book, It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies.
Her historical analysis notes that, contrary to progressivist myths about Christians exercising “theocratic” power, the influence of religion has been generally in decline ever since the French Revolution. However, she cites two recent historical events as triggering a more virulent hostility to religion—the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which raised concern about the dangers of religious fanaticism; and the Catholic priest sex abuse scandals revealed in 2002, which solidified cynicism about institutional religion.
Eberstadt also cites two key legal battles in which the secular left discounted the importance of protecting religious liberty—the HHS contraceptive mandate in Obamacare; and the Supreme Court’s 2015 redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples in Obergefell v. Hodges.
The Obama administration’s insistence on forcing an order of Catholic nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, to pay for abortifacient contraceptives is cited as an example of how the poor—supposedly the subjects of progressive concern—are subordinated to other ideological goals. She points out the abundances of charitable works and social services provided by religious believers, and notes that these agencies simply cannot be replaced by their secular or government-run counterparts. Yet secular progressives prefer to shut such agencies down (like they have Catholic adoption agencies that dare give preference to mother-father households) rather than allow dissent from the progressive worldview. Another chapter highlights how Christian education—whether in the form of student groups, distinctively Christian institutions, or homeschooling—has also been in the crosshairs of the Left.
Eberstadt argues, however, that the secular progressivism is not merely anti-faith, but actually represents a competing faith, explaining that “the sexual revolution has given rise to a new secularist faith of its own whose founding principles are the primacy of pleasure and self-will.” This faith actually mirrors Christianity in some ways, with its own “secular saints” (Sanger, Kinsey), “foreign missionaries,” “quasi-demonology,” and “canon of texts and doctrine.”
“They believe they are in possession of a higher truth,” Eberstadt explains, “and they fight to universalize it.” This helps explain the ferocity of their attacks upon those who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian morality—“the only remaining minority that can be mocked and denigrated … [n]ot to mention fired, fined, or otherwise punished for their beliefs.”
Eberstadt does not hesitate to describe the attacks on believers as a “witch hunt”—and to compare them directly and in detail with similar “moral panics” in the past, including the day-care sexual abuse hysteria of the 1980’s, the McCarthyism of the 1950’s, and the granddaddy of them all, the Salem witch trials of 1692. “‘Bigot’ and ‘hater’ are the new ‘wizard’ and ‘witch,’” she explains; “epithets that intentionally demean and dehumanize.” Yet even serious consequences—like the armed assault upon the Family Research Council offices in Washington in 2012—has not deterred activists like those at the Southern Poverty Law Center from employing such inflammatory language.
Progressives claim that conservative Christians are on “the wrong side of history”—but Eberstadt flips that argument on its head, declaring that “today’s ideological stalking and punishing of Christians is going to look contemptible in history’s rearview mirror.”
This leads to the most distinctive aspect of Eberstadt’s argument. Unlike others who have written on similar topics, Eberstadt does not say the solution is for Christians to mobilize and defend themselves. Other witch hunts were not ended by their victims, and she warns that this one will not be, either. Instead, she calls on liberals themselves to return to liberal values—such as tolerance, freedom of speech and association, and respect for true diversity. We must, she says, “agree to disagree”—affirming “the right to be wrong,” as author Seamus Hasson has put it.
American history already gives us the model for this resolution of the culture war, Eberstadt argues—Thomas Jefferson, whose misunderstood “wall of separation between Church & State” was intended to protect religious liberty, not to stifle it.
“Empirical and philosophical critiques of the sexual revolution are legitimate subjects for debate,” Eberstadt asserts, and those who disagree with them should nonetheless “do the right thing by listening to what [critics] have to say, and acknowledging their American right to say it.”
People on both sides of the culture wars would gain by reading and heeding Eberstadt’s thoughtful analysis.
(Note: Chris Gacek and I interviewed Mary Eberstadt about her book on the FRC daily radio program, “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,” on August 18. That interview can be heard here.)
Several things are notable about David Gushee’s recent column describing the marginalization of orthodox Christian teaching on sexuality. It may at first appear to be a review of legal and policy developments, but it quickly morphs into a cheerleading piece urging the marginalizing to keep on going. Perhaps Gushee simply takes glee in finding himself sitting on the side of the discriminator. The piece is saturated with policy preferences, not theological explanations. In this context, his mention of doctrine as a factor in the discussion makes no sense. If social and political trends and preferences are what matters, who cares about doctrine?
Yet it wasn’t any of these points which stood out the most as I read the piece, but rather the apparent celebration (or at least satisfaction) of the uniformity of the view Gushee saw developing across society. To him, it’s apparently no problem that everyone influential thinks alike—as long as they have the right thoughts.
As Rod Dreher has pointed out, Gushee’s thinking goes hand-in-hand with the suppression of freedom and religious liberty. As I read Dreher’s commentary and Gushee’s piece, my mind went to a book I’m currently reading: James Michener’s The Bridge at Andau—his nonfiction account of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 against Soviet Communism. As Michener recounts in his book, pervasive throughout the secret police apparatus the Soviets helped establish in Hungary was a paranoia about being suspected of disloyalty, of being turned in for perhaps even a comment that could be construed as hostile to the authorities. Conformity was the goal. Disloyal suspects were interrogated and tortured until they “confessed”—until they admitted what the authorities wanted to hear. They had to think as the authorities thought or they were no good.
Yes, we are a far cry from such a system. But never for a moment should we think the evil and oppression underneath it can’t arise in other circumstances and in other forms to take us unawares. Such celebration of uniformity is a threat to the foundational freedoms of our society, and is much larger than any one policy issue. It is a way of thinking about society at large, and Gushee seems to be failing at it in his new piece. At a minimum, he should reconsider his celebration that our elites seem to be “confessing” what he likes to hear.
I invite him to read The Bridge at Andau and welcome a discussion at any time.
“Gender dysphoria” (GD) is a condition in which a person may feel unhappy with his or her biological sex, express a desire to be the opposite sex, or even insist that he or she is of the opposite sex from what his or her genes and anatomy indicate. People who choose to adopt a “gender identity” different from their biological sex are known as “transgender.”
This condition is increasingly being identified not merely in adults, but even in very young, pre-pubescent children. The American College of Pediatricians (an organization formed as an alternative to the larger and more liberal American Academy of Pediatrics), has now released an important paper on “Gender Dysphoria in Children.” It provides a significant medical and scientific counterweight to the growing ideology that demands affirmation of “transgender” identities—even in children.
I encourage those interested to read the College’s press release and the full study. For those wanting a brief summary, however, here are five key points I took away from the paper.
1) There is no scientific evidence that people with gender dysphoria are “born in the wrong body.”
Those who identify as transgender often claim that they are “women born in men’s bodies” or “men born in women’s bodies.” Yet the scientific evidence put forward in support of this theory is weak. In fact, studies of twins have shown that when one twin identifies as transgender, only 20% of the time does the other twin also identify as transgender. This finding alone disproves the idea that gender dysphoria results primarily from prenatal genetic or hormonal influences. (Note: “gender dysphoria” is not the same as biological “disorders of sexual development”—DSD—or “intersex” conditions. The vast majority of people who identify as transgender are entirely normal males or females genetically and biologically.)
2) Most children who experience gender dysphoria do not grow up to identify as transgender adults.
Research has shown that, left to themselves—that is, if they are not given special hormone treatments and not permitted to “transition” into living socially as a person of the opposite sex—most children who exhibit symptoms of “gender dysphoria” will resolve those issues before adulthood and will live as normal males or females with a “gender identity” that corresponds to (rather than conflicts with) their biological sex at birth. Historically, this has been true of between 80% and 95% of gender dysphoric children.
3) Despite #2, many children with gender dysphoria are now being funneled into a treatment protocol that involves both early and ongoing hormone treatments.
It is one thing (and radical enough) for someone born a boy to be allowed to start living as a girl, or vice versa (that is, to “socially transition”). However, some children (as young as 11) are actually being given hormones to block the natural effects of puberty before it begins. The physical differences between male and female children (when clothed) are relatively small and fairly easy to conceal with clothing. Those differences become greater after puberty, which in turn makes it more difficult for a teenager who identifies as transgender to “pass” as a member of the opposite biological sex. Puberty blockers are intended to forestall that “problem.”
Then when they are older (although sometimes as young as 16), they may begin to receive “cross-sex hormones” (e.g., estrogen for males who identify as female, or testosterone for females who identify as male). These continue the suppression of characteristics of their biological sex, while triggering some of the characteristics of the intended gender (such as breast growth or development of facial hair).
4) Such hormone treatments may have serious negative health consequences—both known and unknown.
Supporters of puberty-blocking hormones contend that their effects are reversible, giving a child the opportunity to change his or her mind about gender “transition” upon reaching adulthood. Case studies show, however, that in reality such an intervention puts the child on a nearly inevitable path to a transgender identity—in sharp contrast to most gender dysphoric children who are not so treated. Completion of the entire protocol of both puberty-blocking and cross-sex hormones (especially when followed by sex reassignment surgery) results in permanent sterility—the inability to ever have biological children, even using artificial reproductive technology. The American College of Pediatricians argues, “The treatment of GD in childhood with hormones effectively amounts to mass experimentation on, and sterilization of, youth who are cognitively incapable of providing informed consent.”
As for cross-sex hormones, a comprehensive review of the scientific literature found, “There are potentially long-term safety risks associated with hormone therapy, but none have been proven or conclusively ruled out.” For example, giving estrogen to biological males may place them at risk for cardiovascular disease, elevated blood pressure, gall bladder disease, and breast cancer; while giving testosterone to biological females may be associated with elevated triglycerides, sleep apnea, and insulin resistance—in addition to the risks associated with obtaining a double mastectomy, which some may do when only 16 years old.
5) Research shows that “severe psychopathology and developmental difficulties” often precede the development of gender dysphoria.
A more compassionate approach to caring for children with gender dysphoria would involve what was once the “standard approach”—either “watchful waiting” or psychotherapy “to address familial pathology if it was present, treat any psychosocial morbidities in the child, and aid the child in aligning gender identity with biological sex.” Children are in no position to given meaningful “informed consent” for more serious and potentially hazardous procedures such as hormone therapy.
At Family Research Council, we have consistently made the point that religious freedom must be protected at home and abroad. It is a human right, protected in the United States most prominently by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. Internationally, it is protected by Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other instruments. While the language differs slightly, the right protected is the same. People are free to choose the faith they will have and live out that faith in their lives.
So we were pleased to see The Economist highlight the link between protecting religious freedom at home and abroad in a recent piece on the Ahmadiyya Muslims. Ahmadiyyas believe their founder was a prophet, and for this belief, are viewed as outcasts and non-Muslims by many others within Islam. They have come to the West in hope of peace, where they eagerly pledge allegiance to the civil governing authorities of those countries. The Ahmadiyyas seem to have developed a theology of separation of church and state (as Christians had to do hundreds of years ago) as we currently know it in Western countries—places where the Ahmadiyyas appear to appreciate the legal protections for all faiths. They certainly need it, being subject to legal discrimination, violence, and murder for their beliefs. Yet this no longer occurs only in their home countries:
“This year anti-Ahmadi hatred seemed to break out in Britain, with the murder in March of a popular Glasgow shop-keeper called Asad Shah. His family had moved to Britain in the 1990s in the hope that life for Ahmadis would be easier than in Pakistan. But Pakistan’s religious passions have clearly been felt in Britain; it emerged in April that literature urging the killing of Ahmadis was being circulated in at least one London mosque. The assassin, from the northern English city of Bradford, openly declared his intention of punishing his victim for “disrespecting” Islam, and in particular, for having wished his Christian neighbours a happy Easter.”
The Economist continues:
“The story suggests a wider point. Back in the 1990s, when American officaldom was first mandated by Congress to start making annual assessments of the state of religious liberty round the world, there was widespread confidence in Western capitals that liberal-democratic norms, including religious liberty, would steadily be established in those countries which still oppressed their citizens and curbed their freedom to believe and worship. That missionary confidence is now greatly diminished. But that makes it doubly important that Western governments use all their might at least to protect their own subjects from brutal assaults on freedom of thought. Families like that of Asad Shah, who look to Western democracies as a beacon, must not be disappointed. Or to put it another way, the Ahmadis should feel they are getting something in return for their loyalty to the flag.”
Indeed. This is all part of making sure that true religious freedom—not religious freedom curtailed by blasphemy laws, or religious freedom contained to one’s private life—is protected both in the West and around the world. The United States must do its part to protect this right at home, while revitalizing the role of religious freedom protection in foreign policy.
Sometimes I feel myself go a bit numb where this world and her troubles are concerned. Each day, the news is clogged with terror attacks, riots, posturing dictators, refugee crises, genocide, and deadly natural disasters. Taken together with an advancing culture of death, unmitigated sexual license, and growing hostility toward Christians, it’s enough to make me despair. But I’m reminded of Chuck Colson’s often-repeated admonition: despair is a sin that denies the sovereignty of God. He was right. The truth is, one of the ways believers experience the continual work of the Gospel is in knowing that our trust and hope can and should be located outside this world.
That’s not to say I take no hope from what I see around me. On the contrary, working with interns here at FRC means I spend about 9 months of the year interacting with passionate, purposeful, committed young people who not only love the Lord but also love this nation. They come here ready to take on the world, their heads full of knowledge and their hearts full of fervor. Now, it’s not surprising that many of them also arrive without a full understanding of how to defend or articulate their beliefs, but that is why we set aside time to have important, difficult discussions about the issues of our day. The goal is that our students will leave FRC better equipped—professionally, mentally, and spiritually—than when they came. As a result of the time and effort we devote to training in Christian worldview, I get a front row seat to watch interns grow in confidence, thoughtfulness, humility, and coherence. They feel it too, so much so that our interns often cite our weekly worldview training as the highlight of the program.
I’m humbled to be part of such important work, helping form the next generation of Christian leaders. I am also grateful to have had so many opportunities to share about these exceptional students; to let others know that there is reason to be optimistic. Of course, we place our hope first and foremost in the person of Jesus, but the very good news is that there are others coming up behind us who claim and live in response to the very same hope.
Are you interested in more information about FRC’s internship program? Click here to learn more and to download an application.
If one were to read the headlines in the media on a daily basis these days, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that our society is on the verge of collapse. Even when deadly incidents of mass violence aren’t happening, there is always plenty of other doom and gloom to fill up the front page, either real or manufactured. Whether it be a public gaffe by a politician or the latest scandal-inducing revelation that is sure to be the downfall of a political campaign, the media thrives on negativity. While it’s important to stay informed on the real events that directly affect people’s lives, it’s also important to remember that much of the “news” that grabs headlines is just that—meant to grab your attention for a few moments without offering much in the way of real substance that can enrich and inform your life for the better.
That’s why it is so refreshing to see stories like these featured prominently on major newspaper websites, stories that describe the daily lives of faithful and healthy families and the ways they are flourishing against tough economic odds. It’s easy to forget that millions of families like these live under the radar of the “news” and quietly live out their faith by simply loving their spouses and children with joy and self-sacrifice.
This is the kind of news that our society so desperately needs. In order to transform our deeply wounded culture, people need to be constantly reminded of the eternal truths of being human: to be a son, to be a daughter, to be a husband, to be a wife, to be a mother, to be a father. In other words, to love and to be loved. This message is what we here at FRC try to communicate every day. We can release all the facts and figures of the importance of faith and the family that we want, but where the rubber truly meets the road is in our churches that we worship in and in our homes that we lovingly cultivate. It’s the kind of front page news that happens every day, whether the media pays attention or not.
Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.
Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council
By now you’ve probably seen or heard about the best female gymnast that ever lived, Simone Biles. She is wowing everyone at the Olympics this summer. Simone Biles’ margin of victory is 2.1, larger than the margins of victory from 1980 to 2012 combined. She’s already won gold for team and individual all-around at Rio Olympics. All this girl does is win:
“Not only is she the first female gymnast since 1974 to win four consecutive all-around titles at the U.S. national championships, but she’s also the first woman ever to be the all-around world champion three years in a row. Not to mention that she’s won fourteen total world championships medals-the most ever won by an American woman.”
Recently it came to light that Simone Biles was born in March 1997 in Columbus, Ohio to Shannon Biles, who at the time was an “unfit” drug and alcohol addict and who was unable to take care of Simone and her younger sister Adria. Their father, who also struggled with addictions, abandoned Shannon and was not part of the children’s life. They were shuffled back and forth between her mom’s house and foster care for her first three years of life. When she was three years old, her maternal grandfather, Ron, and his second wife, Nellie, brought Simone and her sister to Spring, Texas, which is a suburb of Houston. When Simone was six years old, they officially adopted the girls, becoming “mom and dad.” Her adoption story is well-documented here.
NBC Olympics describes Biles as “fearless, teaching herself to do back flips off her family’s mailbox before she even took a gymnastics class. It was a daycare field trip to a gym that led her to the sport—the six-year-old saw the older girls flipping and twisting and immediately started copying them.”
The instructors suggested she continue doing gymnastics. As the story goes, “she returned home with an information packet and a single, insistent demand: enroll me at the gym.” Biles then enrolled in an optional training program at Bannon’s Gymnastix at age six. This was late by competitive standards, since most aspiring gymnasts start as soon as they can walk. She began her training with Aimee Boorman at eight years of age, her coach now of eleven years. And the rest is history.
Her story are what fairy tales are made of. We love the underdog. We love stories of human strength that defy all odds.
Yet, she would have been the perfect target of Planned Parenthood. It’s no secret that Planned Parenthood targets blacks and minorities: 79% of Planned Parenthood’s surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of African American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods, according to 2010 U.S. Census data.
LiveAction also revealed that Planned Parenthood accepts money for aborting black babies.
Black women make up only 13% of the female population in the United States, but they undergo approximately 28% of the abortions. In the U.S., black children are aborted at nearly four times the rate of white children. In fact, one in three black babies are killed in the womb. Simone Biles seems to have defied the odds in more ways than at first glance.
Margaret Sanger, founder of what is now known as Planned Parenthood, would have wanted women like Shannon never to have children. In her 1920 book “Woman and the New Race”, Sanger said, “By all means, there should be no children when either mother or father suffers from such diseases as tuberculosis, gonorrhea, syphilis, cancer, epilepsy, insanity, drunkenness and mental disorders.”
In a 1957 interview with Mike Wallace, Sanger mused: “I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world, that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically… Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they’re born. That to me is the greatest sin-that people can-can commit.”
By Sanger and Planned Parenthood’s standard, Simone Biles would have been eliminated.
Yet Simone Biles stands before us, a marvel of a human being, having beat the odds. This is the constant message of the pro-life movement. No one, absolutely no one, is beyond hope or possibility. Each unborn child deserves the right to life, even when the circumstances seem dire. How many others like Simone Biles who would have started from less-than-ideal circumstances but were not even given a chance at life? How many Olympians, presidents, politicians, and artists have we aborted? Fifty-nine million babies with infinite potential have been aborted in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade in 1973. Without the fundamental right to life, no other rights or potentialities are possible.
Simone Biles’ story also highlights the power of adoption. Every child is a wanted child, whether by her biological family or by someone else. Simone’s biological mother spoke of her deep admiration for Simone’s adoptive mother saying, “It takes a hell of a woman to raise her husband’s child’s children. I’m very blessed and thankful for that. It was the right thing at the time.”
While Simone Biles has undeniable exceptional talent, her worth does not come even from her talent. It comes from the fact that she is human. All people are valuable and necessary, not because of what they do, but because they simply are. Yet, we can also rejoice and marvel at the beauty, strength, and talent of Olympian athletes like Simone Biles who demonstrate for us the peak of athletic human excellence.
We’re glad you’re here Simone and we’re glad for adoption. The world would, literally, not be the same without you.
Arina O. Grossu, M.A. is the director for the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, where she focuses on sanctity of human life issues, ranging from conception to natural death.
There’s never a dull moment when you run an internship program in Washington, D.C. During the semester, the office is a little louder, buzzing with activity, and more often than not, just plain fun. When students head back to school or off to their new jobs, the office gets quieter and I go into preparation mode, fueled by anticipation for the coming semester.
Assembling the class can be nerve-wracking as I go through at least a couple iterations of intern departmental assignments, taking into consideration student interest and background, and the needs of our very busy organization. Once in a while, I have to make difficult decisions, usually based on our housing or program capacity, which inevitably leads to some self-doubt. I suppose a healthy amount of insecurity about these decisions makes sense, most of all because the three months-long contentment of not only our students, but also many of my colleagues is in my hands.
Sometimes I don’t know whether I have made the right decision until our students arrive, but there are a few situations in which I know for sure I have made the right call. If you or a student you know are interested in internships at FRC, or more generally any internship in Washington, D.C., here’s a little bit of free advice on what will make you stick out as an applicant, in the form of a good old “do’s and don’ts” list:
The Experience Collector
Do: Acknowledge your resume, especially if it looks as though you’re wandering a bit. If you have bounced from internship to internship, detail your goals and why specifically you believe an internship here will help you achieve them. That will make me much more likely to consider you.
Don’t: Act like your professional past is of no consequence. If your application features a bachelor’s and master’s degree and four internships both on and off the Hill, my first reaction is to assume you’ve grown to like being an intern a little more than you should. In that case, I am likely to thank you for your interest and nicely tell you that it’s time for you to get a job.
The Creative Writer
Do: Use your application essays to tell me why you are passionate about the issues FRC specifically focuses on, and by all means, find a connection between your interests and our mission, however unrelated they may seem. If that requires a bit of creativity, do the work. I love it when we are able to bring students from all different backgrounds to experience a semester with us.
Don’t: Send well-written essays about your interests that don’t actually answer the writing prompts. If it’s obvious to me that you sent an essay you wrote for another program, your application will most likely be rejected. The same goes for writing essays that show you aren’t actually very familiar with our work. Even if you just learned about FRC, it only takes a little bit of time on our website to learn what you should in order to convince me you are genuinely interested.
The Over-Familiar Communicator
Do: Refer to the intern coordinator with a professional salutation (e.g. Mr., Ms.), and then respond in kind if/when he or she signs off differently. Most communication will be through e-mail, so for instance, when I sign off using my first name, then it is appropriate for you to call me by it in the future.
Don’t: Send demanding, one- or two-sentence e-mails to check on your application status. From my perspective, it’s hard to recover from this, and I am unlikely to consider you if you treat me and this opportunity with anything but respect. Additionally, overuse of exclamation points and question marks is ALWAYS unprofessional.
The Silent Type
Do: Acknowledge e-mails received, even if it’s just a “Got it. Thank you!” Over-communication is preferable in these cases as it shows me you are invested.
Don’t: Ignore an e-mail, even if it is a rejection letter. You never know what contacts you may have need of in the future, and this makes me a lot less likely to lend a hand later. I would be very willing to give a recommendation on an applicant’s behalf, provided he or she treats me with respect and gratitude for the opportunity to be considered for our program. It’s just bad form to not respond with at least a short “thank you” in these cases.
Do: Follow through on your commitment once you have accepted an offer. There isn’t much else to say on this.
Don’t: Come back a week (or two months!) after accepting an offer to join us for an internship and say you won’t be able to come because you got another offer you really wanted. This is a great way to burn a bridge, and it would be nearly impossible to recover from if you ever want to be considered in the future. We expect our students to be men and women of their word, even and especially when it is difficult. That starts before you even arrive.
The Social Butterfly
Do: Feel free to use social media to share your views (and your pics, status updates, etc.) with your friends and family.
Don’t: Post things you’ll regret the next day, or when the coordinator of an internship you applied to views your account.
Some of those items may seem like common sense, but there is a reason why I mentioned each and every one. Like I said, I sometimes struggle with self-doubt while processing applications, but on day one of each of three semesters during which we offer our program, that apprehension typically gives way to confidence that the right students were selected and excitement about what’s in store over the coming months. I am happy to say that when we host students whose conduct reflects this “do’s and don’ts” list, they and we end up loving every minute of their time here.
Are you interested in more information about FRC’s internship program? Click here to learn more and to download an application.