Philosophers Push Campaign Against Limits on Hiring Gay Professors

February 10, 2010

Calvin College has become the first institution covered by a new rule of the American Philosophical Association of requiring any college that violates any part of the association's anti-bias policy to have job listings with the association flagged. The rule was adopted late last year in response to the concerns of many philosophers about having their association list jobs from institutions that do not hire gay professors. One aim of the policy, proponents said, was to then be able to lobby colleges to change their policies. Some philosophers are now trying to do just that with a petition urging the college to accept gay professors. "One might puzzle over a form of Christianity that is committed to the inequality of people, and in particular of job applicants for positions in philosophy. More disturbing, however, is the stigma Calvin College feels entitled to place upon those who are doubly exposed: as lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgendered in a society that has yet to accept them, and as people seeking jobs during difficult economic times," the petition says. "Obtaining academic positions in philosophy is never an easy task; doing so in the face of the current economic climate is nothing less than traumatic. That Calvin College would engage in a most egregious form of discrimination under these circumstances strikes us as not only deplorable but indeed as displaying a lack of basic human concern."

A spokesman for the college said he could not comment on the petition. The college requires faculty members to be in good standing with the Christian Reformed Church (or some similar churches), and Calvin's statement about sexual orientation states that all people should be treated with "respect" and "understanding," and that sexual orientation "seems usually to lie outside the scope of an individual's will." But the statement also says that sexual activity under church teachings is allowed only in heterosexual marriage. The philosophy association's anti-bias policy specifically states that it is not acceptable for colleges to say that they welcome gay people, but only if they are celibate.

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