Gallaudet University, the leading college for the deaf, recently was in the news because its chief diversity officer, Dr. Angela McCaskill was put on paid leave when it came to the university’s attention that she signed an anti-gay marriage petition after hearing a sermon at church. Dr. McCaskill claims she’s not anti-gay (but I guess she doesn’t believe gays should have the right to wed), and apparently after some investigating and meeting, the university doesn’t either.
Now, if Dr. McCaskill was head of the science department or a professor of biology I wouldn’t have a problem with her views – after all, they do not have an effect on her teaching, but when we’re talking about a chief diversity officer.
Some argue that her First Amendment right to free speech would be violated if she were to be fired. But it wouldn’t because no one is violating her right to free speech – Dr. McCaskill is allowed to say whatever she likes, without fear of governmental intervention, but her employer can also make a stand if she’s publicly doing something that put her credibility into question – like signing a petition to deny a group equal rights. Free speech guarantees you the right to free speech, but it doesn’t guarantee you the right to a job.
If Dr. McCaskill was hired as a biology teacher, but was discovered to be a creationist, who signed a petition to outlaw the teaching of evolution in schools, then the school would be well within its rights to question the hire.
I don’t think Dr. McCaskill is not a bad person – and I think she’s probably okay at her job. And maybe she’d treat the gay students well.
But which LGBT student will now turn to the office for assistance when its director is a known homophobe? This would be akin to an openly gay student demanding that an evangelical Christian school change its stance on homosexuality – it’s wrong and shouldn’t fly.
It’ll be interesting to hear if Dr. McCaskill will release a statement of her own, explaining how she will reach out to the LGBT Gallaudent community, now that her beliefs have possibly alienated it. I’ll be watching closely to see….