EXCLUSIVE: A diversity and inclusion training by the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado instructs cadets to use words that "include all genders" and to refrain from saying things like "mom" and "dad."
The slide presentation titled, "Diversity & Inclusion: What it is, why we care, & what we can do," advises cadets to use "person-centered" and gender-neutral language when describing individuals.
"Some families are headed by single parents, grandparents, foster parents, two moms, two dads, etc.: consider ‘parent or caregiver’ instead of ‘mom and dad,'" the presentation states. "Use words that include all genders: ‘Folks’ or ‘Y’all’ instead of ‘guys’; ‘partner’ vs. ‘boyfriend or girlfriend.’"
"Not ‘Colorblind’ or ‘I don’t see color,’ but Color Conscious," it adds. "We see Color/Patterns AND VALUE people for their uniqueness."
The documents were shared with Fox News Digital by Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., a Green Beret and Afghan War veteran, who said the materials had alarmed cadets. Fox News Digital has verified the documents' authenticity.
Waltz pointed out during an interview with Fox News Digital that "it's been a tradition in the military to get letters from mom and dad or your boyfriend and girlfriend for as long as there's been a military."
"Now we're instructing every cadet entering the Air Force to not say ‘mom’ and ‘dad,’ to not say ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend,’ and this kind of drive towards gender neutrality," he said. "I think the Air Force should be worried about the macro aggressions against America that are happening all over the world."
The diversity and inclusion (D&I) training also includes an exercise asking cadets to separate into small groups and write down as many "G-Animals," or animals that start with the letter "G," that they can think of in one minute’s time.
"What does this activity show us about the power of combining our diverse perspectives?" the activity asks. "If this were an operational USAF/USSF [United States Space Force] challenge (think COA [course of action] development) what risks might be present if we did not fully leverage the diversity of our group?"
One slide in the presentation claims that D&I training is critical for "developing warfighters" to be "prepared to lead the USAF/USSF with character."
"How can we Lift Others (motivate our teams) if we don’t know our people?" it asks. "How can we Elevate Performance if we don’t include people during planning and execution?"
"Today we are preparing to face challenges that may not exist today," the training says. "For example, Information Warfare only became a career field 7 years ago, and we stood up the Space Force in 2019. This makes our need to innovate critical. Thus, our leaders have deemed D&I a warfighting imperative."
At the beginning of the training, cadets are assured that "what’s said here, stays in the room (let's have each other's backs)," and cadets were instructed not to "share people's stories with their name/identifiers)."
The presentation also asks cadets to finish prompts like, "What I think about me in terms of who I am," "What others think about me," "What might be misunderstood about me" and "How squad/classmates can help me feel valued."
At the end of the presentation, cadets are informed about additional D&I resources on the academy’s Colorado Springs campus, including a "D&I Reading Room" and "Affinity groups."
According to the academy’s website, affinity groups help cadets "gather around a shared affinity or bond" and can be "identity-based," "interest/career-based" or "cadet experience-based."
A professor quoted in a 2021 press release by the academy describes the D&I reading room as a "safe space" meant "to broaden and deepen [cadets’] exploration of the issues involved in diversity, inclusion and justice."
The academy also offers a "Cadet Wing Diversity and Inclusion Program," where graduates are given a purple rope to wear across their left shoulder "symbolizing their position as a diversity representative" so that they can "advise students on diversity," according to a press release.
An August 2021 memo by the academy that proposed the D&I program, obtained by Fox News Digital, said it would create "champions of dignity and respect to foster an inclusive climate in the Cadet Wing."
"Recommended trainings include, but are not limited to, inclusive leadership, conversation facilitation, unconscious bias, and cultural sensitivity," the memo stated. "The structure for D&I Staff will resemble [Air Force Academy Cadet Wing] Character and Honor staffs to reflect that D&I is also an institutional priority."
Waltz, a ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, told Fox News Digital that the program’s structure is particularly concerning because it appears to create a "separate, parallel chain of command."
"To those of us who are a little bit older, it reminds us of what the Soviets used to do or what the Chinese do today, where they literally have political commissars inserted at every level end of the chain of command, but they have a separate reporting chain to ensure that the military is abiding by their ideology and their political doctrine," Waltz said.
"Not only do they have diversity and equity officers in the cadet chain of command, they wear a special insignia, which is exactly what the political commissars — they would wear an armband in both the Soviet army and now in the Chinese Communist military. I just think there are some really alarming parallels," he said.
"When we are in the majority, we are going to legislate this, and we are going to cut it out of the U.S. military," he added.
An Air Force Academy spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News Digital that the D&I training is to help prepare cadets for "warfighting effectiveness."
"As part of the Diversity & Inclusion Cadet Leadership Program, this conversation was developed by cadet leaders and USAFA staff to introduce all cadets to Department of the Air Force definitions of diversity and inclusion, as well as how these concepts enhance our warfighting effectiveness," the spokesperson said. "USAFA develops leaders of character that can lead diverse teams of Airmen and Guardians inclusively, to enhance innovation and win future conflict.
"It is the diversity of Airmen and Guardians coming from all corners of our nation who perform the Department of the Air Force’s hundreds of critical mission sets that make us the best, most innovative Air and Space Forces the world has ever known," the spokesperson continued.
The spokesperson said the exercises "were intended to highlight diversity of thought and the benefits of including multiple perspectives."
The spokesperson also clarified that "there is one chain of command in the military," and that "our cadet squadrons have cadets who serve as advisors to leadership in several specific areas, such as Character, Honor and Diversity."
In a second statement Thursday afternoon, USAFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Rich Clark clarified that the academy "does not prohibit the use of 'mom and dad' or other gender specific terms."
"The recent briefing on diversity and inclusion is being taken out of context and misrepresented; the slide in question was not intended to stand alone," Clark said. "First and foremost, the briefing centered on respect for others and the warfighting imperative of leveraging diverse perspectives to solve our nation's most difficult national security problems. Our strategic competitors are doing the opposite. Our American diversity is a strategic advantage and opens the door to creative solutions, providing a competitive edge in air, space, and cyberspace."
"The slide on 'inclusive language' was intended to demonstrate how respect for others should be used to build inclusive teams, producing more effective warfighting units," Clark continued. "Understanding a person's context shows respect. Until you know a person's situation, we should not make assumptions about them."
Waltz told Fox News Digital that he hopes Republicans flip the House in November and that he eventually becomes chairman of the Subcommittee on Readiness, which has oversight of all trainings across the U.S. military and military academies.
"I'm worried about the macro aggressions," he said. "Everything, when it comes to training, is an opportunity cost. Every hour, every day you're spending training on this stuff, you're not training on all the other things we need that I would argue would be a higher priority to fight and win wars."
Waltz has received documents from cadets and their families who are "disturbed" by the radical teachings at military academies, including the United States Military Academy at West Point, which hosted a lecture entitled, "Understanding Whiteness and White Rage," the congressman told Fox News host Tucker Carlson in April of last year.
"That is absolutely destructive to morale, to unity, to everything that I know from a military, that by the way, integrated way before the rest of the country in 1948," Waltz said at the time.
So-called "wokeness" in the military came under scrutiny last week after Fox News Digital reported that Kelisa Wing, the DEI chief at Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), wrote a series of tweets that were disparaging toward White people. The department said it was "reviewing" Wing following Fox News Digital's report.