California isn’t just at war with Donald Trump. It is conducting a culture war against several red states in the form of Assembly Bill 1887.

The measure prohibits state-funded and state-sponsored travel to Alabama and several other red states Thursday due to laws that could discriminate against the LGBTQ community (e.g., prohibiting adoptions).

Now, a group of California’s real “best and brightest” are collateral damage in the Golden State culture war.

The Citrus College Rocket Owls were one of 60 school teams invited to Huntsville to compete in NASA Student Launch Program in April. Groups from 23 states are competing in the 18th annual event in which teams design, build, test and fly a high-altitude reusable rocket.

Despite their invite, Citrus College, a community college located outside Los Angeles, won’t be attending. Last year, California announced it was banning publicly funded travel to Alabama and seven other states due to laws that could discriminate against the LGBTQ community. In Alabama’s case, it was a law that allows adoption agencies to follow faith-based policies, which includes not placing children with same-sex couples.

Homer Hickam, the famous Huntsville author and rocket scientist, whose October Sky is an inspiration to many young students, challenges the assertion that this is a state funded trip. Additionally, reports indicate college administrators are re-interpreting the rules to prevent the team from heading to Alabama.

“I discovered that these kids had raised their own funds. They weren’t going to use public funds. They were going to use their own funds. Looking at it some more, I saw that there were a number of University of California rocket teams who were coming because they had raised their own funds as well,” [Hickam] said.

Austin Langrehr, the team leader of the Citrus College Rocket Owls, said the team being denied traveling to Huntsville for the NASA SL competition started with California Law AB1887.

“However, Eloy Oakley, the chancellor of California community colleges, sent out a memo last August saying that students and faculty of community colleges could not travel to the banned states ‘regardless of funding.’ We had already raised the private funds needed to travel, but the school would not permit us to go,” he said.

“The chancellor later came out and said that his office has not denied the Rocket Owls from going and it is ultimately up to Citrus College’s administration to decide whether we can travel or not. The school, namely the acting president Dr. Perri and the acting vice president of academic affairs, Dr. Spor, have stood by the decision to not allow our travel and have not budged after multiple petitions to allow our travel.”

The other states in this ban are Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee or Texas. Sports teams are also feeling the effects, and now a sensible California lawmaker has introduced Assembly Bill 2389 to allow California colleges to use taxpayer money for athletic and academic trips to the banned states.

“I don’t think we should have a situation where California is boycotting parts of the United States,” said Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach. …

“Who is going to want to be a member of a (state university) team if they can’t compete against the best because the state Legislature has decided for political reasons that they can’t travel to some states?” Harper said. “It goes across the board and impacts all sports.”

My son in an aspiring physicist, who is weighing aeronautic engineering as a potential field. He would love to attend the NASA competition, so political stunts like this mean that colleges outside of California which don’t have insane social justice travel bans must be strongly considered.

I won’t be the only parent making this calculation, either.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.