INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Republican lawmakers voted Wednesday to prohibit Indiana University from using any state money to support its sexual research institution after a far-right legislator unleashed disputed allegations of child exploitation by its founder and famed mid-20th century researcher Alfred Kinsey.
The Indiana House voted 53-34 to block state funding toward the Kinsey Institute that has long faced criticism from conservatives for its ongoing research and the legacy of Kinsey’s work that they blame for contributing to liberalized sexual morals, including more acceptance of homosexuality and pornography.
Alfred Kinsey, who died in 1956, produced groundbreaking sex-behavior studies in 1948 and 1953 and was portrayed by Liam Neeson in the 2004 film “Kinsey.”
Republican Rep. Lorissa Sweet claimed that some of Kinsey’s research was child exploitation as she argued for an amendment to the state budget bill against funding for the institute.
“By limiting the funding to Kinsey Institute through Indiana University’s tax dollars, we can be assured that we are not funding ongoing research committed by crimes.” Sweet said.
Democratic Rep. Matt Pierce, whose Bloomington district includes the university campus, responded that Sweet’s claims were “based on old unproven allegations of conspiracies that did not exist,” calling them “warmed-over internet memes that keep coming back.”
Pierce said the university maintained a department that ensured all research involving humans met federal laws and that the Kinsey Institute aimed to better understand human sexuality, including how to treat and prevent sexual predators and pedophiles.
An Indiana University spokesman and the institute’s director didn’t immediately comment on the vote.
Seven Republican House members joined all Democrats present in voting against Sweet’s proposal, which specifically prohibits the use of state money for expenses including the institute’s on-campus facilities, research work, utilities, office supplies and maintenance of research photographs or films.
Pierce said the institute’s funding was being exploited as a “culture war” issue and that it would simply create bookkeeping problems for the university to use sources such as outside grant funding or student tuition to support it.
The fate of the Kinsey funding prohibition might not be decided until a final version of the state budget is voted upon by lawmakers in late April.