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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Gay tolerance brings controversy to faculty

A bitter controversy that erupted last month in the College of Education regarding a proposed tolerance statement for homosexuals has prompted faculty members to accuse each other of bigotry, and some to question whether Dean Jane Conoley is imposing her political views on the college.
The college’s faculty advisory committee will meet today to vote on a final draft of a diversity statement it first proposed Feb. 4. Eight professors, including Stephen Crouse, associate dean of the college, signed a letter objecting to the statement, which says faculty must “celebrate and promote all forms of human diversity” and lists sexual orientation as a protected status, along with race, gender and other categories. The letter suggests the committee adopt a general non-discrimination statement similar to that of the University, and said Christian faculty should not have to “celebrate and promote” a lifestyle they believe is immoral.
At least one faculty member accused the signatories of the letter of bigotry and urged Conoley to fire Crouse from his administrative position. Conoley refused to fire Crouse, and in a Feb. 26 memo sent to the college’s faculty and staff, rebuked the arguments Crouse and others set forth in their letter.
“I generally consider distinctions that call us to love the sinner while hating the sin to be empty, rhetorical gestures at best and covers for persecution at worst,” Conoley stated in the memo, adding that those who signed the letter objecting to the tolerance statement were acting upon a mistranslation of a Biblical verse.
Conoley also instituted a new policy that states the college “celebrates and cherishes GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered) people.” The statement, which is enforced as the college’s policy and is separate from the faculty committee’s statement, grants homosexuals on the faculty “special access to protection and support” and states that any decision about promotion and tenure involving homosexuals deserve “heightened scrutiny.”
In an interview, Coneley, one of two finalists for provost and executive vice president – the second highest position at the University – said she found Crouse’s letter “rather pompous and arrogant” and instituted the new tolerance policy because homosexuals are a vulnerable minority.
“Sacred texts should be used to guide our personal lives and not used in judgement of others,” Coneley said.
Coneley’s memo sparked accusations that her comments were intolerant towards certain religious views and that she had disregarded faculty input by instituting the new tolerance policy.
“Some of the language in your e-mail is unnecessarily demeaning to those who hold a viewpoint somewhat different from yours,” wrote education professor David Erlandson in an e-mail to Coneley.
In an interview, Erlandson said he could not abide by Coneley’s policy of celebrating and cherishing the homosexual lifestyle.
“I can’t promote that lifestyle because of my faith, and if I’m not in compliance, I’ll accept the consequences,” Erlandson said.
Carl Gabbard, a kinesiology professor and a signatory of the letter, said Coneley’s new policy statement had little faculty input and sabotaged the faculty committee’s debate on the final wording of the tolerance statement.
“The dean’s policy is an attempt to close the door on our discussion,” Gabbard said in an interview Tuesday. “There was no compromise in this case, and that was very disappointing.”
The college’s faculty advisory committee is still working on a general tolerance statement, said Gerald Kulm, the group’s chairman. The words “celebrate and promote” are gone from the revised version that the committee will vote on today, Kulm said.

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