Christopher Rufo

This content was last updated Oct. 4, 2023, 8:10 a.m. UTC

Christopher Rufo is an American activist and senior fellow at The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. At the Institute, he is the director for their initiative against critical race theory and a contributing editor to their public policy magazine City Journal.

The drag queen might appear as a comic figure, but he carries an utterly serious message: the deconstruction of sex, the reconstruction of child sexuality, and the subversion of middle-class family life. The ideology that drives this movement was born in the sex dungeons of San Francisco and incubated in the academy. It is now being transmitted, with official state support, in a number of public libraries and schools across the United States.

Rufo for City Journal, 23 October 2022

Education and Work

Rufo earned his Bachelor of Sciences degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service in 2006. In 2022, he earned a Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies from Harvard Extension School, an open-enrollment institution.

Rufo was a visiting fellow for domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation. He was also a Lincoln Fellow at far-right think tank The Claremont Institute, and the director of far-right think tank Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty. (The Discovery Institute denies the theory of evolution.)

In 2018, Rufo ran for Seattle City Council and lost. In 2021, he wrote No Way Home: The Crisis of Homelessness and How to Fix It with Intelligence and Humanity, and in July of 2023 he wrote America's Cultural Revolution: How the Radical Left Conquered Everything.

Critical Race Theory

In 2020, Rufo began publishing leaked recordings and documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act regarding anti-racism workplace training. Rufo appropriated and weaponized the phrase “critical race theory” which was coined by anti-racist academics in the 1970s to use in modern conservative political messaging.

Rufo published articles about critical race theory in City Journal, appeared on former Fox News talk show Tucker Carlson Tonight to decry the theory as a “destructive, divisive, pseudoscientific ideology,” and demand that then president Trump prohibit it from being taught in federal settings. Later, he was invited to help draft an executive order to accomplish just that.

The Manhattan Institute

Rufo began writing for City Journal in June of 2018. His articles focused primarily on homelessness and anti-left wing politics, until 2020 when he began writing extensively in opposition to critical race theory. In December of that year, he was made a senior fellow at the Institute.

In 2022, Rufo was a consultant for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, anti-LGBTQ+ legislation designed to prohibit teachers in Florida from discussing with or educating students about LGBT people. When Disney disavowed the bill, Rufo appeared on Fox News to share leaked videos of a Disney staff meeting about creating LGBTQ+ media and state that Disney was “sexualizing children.” He also published a City Journal article alleging that 35 employees of Disney had been arrested for sexual crimes against children.

Rufo has misinterpreted a study regarding childhood sexual assault in public schools, incorrectly suggesting that 10% of all children in school are victims of sexual assault, and claiming that public schools are “hunting grounds” for predatory teachers. The study’s author publicly rebuked his interpretation of the data.

In January of 2023, Rufo was appointed to oversee New College of Florida, a Sarasota-based liberal arts school with a reputation for progressive politics. Rufo stated that they were “recapturing education.” In February of 2023, Rufo drafted a policy document for the Institute that promoted rules disallowing school employees from discussing or teaching about topics relating to sex and gender, forcing them to out LGBTQ+ students to their parents, and preventing them from asking about or using the desired names and pronouns for students. Reporting on the fall session for 2023 has described a chaotic and uncertain environment for students after nearly 40 percent of the school’s faculty resigned in response to Rufo’s leadership.

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