Last week, we shared the story of H. Adam Ackley, the theology professor at Azusa Pacific University who was asked to resign after announcing that he is transgender. Professor Ackley now joins the ranks of several transgender faith leaders who serve as clergy, chaplains, teachers, social workers, and organizational leaders. He has not yet been fired, but his employment is under discussion by the administration.
Professor Ackley is getting support, both on campus and off campus. Joy Ladin, an English professor at Yeshiva University in New York who underwent her own transition while keeping her job, wrote an article for Tikkun magazine, sympathizing with Ackley's experience.
If I hadn’t received tenure before coming out, I am sure that like Professor Ackley, I would have been terminated, and for similar reasons. Some may think that religious universities are driven in this regard by fear of God, but there is no verse in the Bible in which God says, “Thou shalt not employ a transgender professor.” No, religious universities, like secular organizations that fire transgender employees, are acting out of fear of human beings: fear that students won’t register for classes with a transgender professor; fear of parents, who might send their children and tuition elsewhere; and fear, above all, of alienating alumni and other donors whose contributions keep the lights on and the doors open.
On campus, students are rallying support for Ackley. Banners and t-shirts have been seen on campus emblazoned with "We stand with Adam." One student told the Los Angeles NBC affiliate, "He's the greatest professor I've ever taken, so by taking him out of the classroom, especially mid-semester, is doing the students a huge disservice and it's a huge loss to the university."
Others are taking action on line. A Change.org petition has been created, demanding better safety for transgender students and faculty. The petition has already garnered over 2,000 signatures.
Add your name to those who are supporting Professor H. Adam Ackley, and tell Azusa Pacific University that transgender students and faculty need to be supported. Visit www.glaad.org/standwithadam for more information.
Tweet your support for Professor Ackley and all transgender students and faculty at Azusa Pacific University by using the hash tag #westandwithadam. You can use the following sample tweet:
Trans professor dismissed from @azusapacific. Protect all trans students and faculty. #WeStandWithAdam http://www.glaad.org/standwithadam