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BYU-Idaho professor is fired after LGBT rights Facebook post

Published July 25, 2017 1:28 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

On June 5, Brigham Young University-Idaho adjunct professor Ruthie Robertson typed up an 854-word post on her private Facebook page.

"In honor of LGBT Pride Month, I thought I would reveal some things in the name of authenticity," the 22-year-old professor of political science began.

Robertson, who is Mormon, went on to articulate her support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender causes. She criticized LDS policies that include declaring same-sex couples apostates. A BYU-Idaho graduate, Robertson said she had been struggling with the church's stances on LGBT issues. She has many LGBT friends, and she wanted them to know where she stood.



Robertson said it didn't cross her mind that the post, visible only to her friends, might affect her gig teaching international relations at the LDS Church-owned university.

But a week later, Robertson had been fired, she said, told by administrators that she could finish the summer semester, but that her contract for the fall was terminated. A BYU-Idaho spokesman would say only that the university doesn't comment on personnel issues. He confirmed that Robertson would not be teaching there in the fall.

"It's a controversial position, of course, but I had no inclination that this [post] would affect my job," Robertson said in a telephone interview. "That completely blew me away — that my job was on the line because of this."

Robertson said that the same day she made the post, a colleague informed her that someone had reported the post to the university. The next day, she sat down with school administrators. The conversation "was pretty positive at first," Robertson recalled, with the officials hoping to learn more about her and why she felt so passionately about LGBT issues.

Then, Robertson said, it took a "negative turn." She said the officials pressured her to rethink her stances, pray about it for a few days and "hopefully make the right choice to take down the post." She said the administrators implied that if she took it down, she could keep her job.

She made several tweaks to her post, but she refused to delete it. In both versions, she wrote: "This is my official announcement and declaration that I believe heterosexuality and homosexuality are both natural and neither is sinful. I will never support the phrase 'love the sinner, hate the sin' because that 'sin' is part of who that person is."

In a second meeting a week later, Robertson said she was fired. As of Tuesday, she was listed on the BYU-Idaho website as the professor for Political Science 170 International Politics, in the upcoming fall and winter semesters.

"I was really bummed out because of how much I love my students, and how much of a change I could see in them," she said. "I was also really stressed out because it was my sole income. But at the same time, I was angry — I was upset they would fire me over something like this. I was kind of indignant. I wasn't going to back down."

Robertson told her students on their last day of summer classes that it would be her last semester teaching, which she said confused them. She explained the situation. Robertson said "they were very upset," despite the fact that many of her students likely did not agree with her opinions on LGBT issues.

In the end, Robertson said, "it was worth it," despite not knowing what she will do next. She compared the church's positions on LGBT issues to a long-held policy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — until 1978 — that black men and boys could not be ordained to the priesthood.

"We all have to choose what side of history we're going to be on," she said. "I made my decision, and I plan to stay on that side of history."

lramseth@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lramseth —

Ruthie Robertson's initial, unedited Facebook post (provided by Robertson)

In honor of LGBT Pride Month, I thought I would reveal some things in the name of authenticity.

I'm currently a member of the LDS Church. This organization has openly and forcefully opposed same-sex relationships and legalized same-sex marriage. They pushed members in California to fight against Prop 8, and had a policy claiming that same-sex relationships were a sin and discouraged individuals from participating in them. In the past, the Church was a facilitator for adoptions. They ended this part of the organization to avoid having to deal with adoption requests from same-sex couples. In November 2015, they took their stance further by labeling same-sex couples in the Church as apostates, meaning those found in these relationships would have a disciplinary hearing to determine their membership status; they can either end their engagements in this sinful life, or be excommunicated. The policy also prevents their children from joining the Church until they are 18, with the condition that they disavow their parents life style. For an organization that places so much importance on the family unit, this policy sure seems to be attacking a form of that unit.

Most Christian faiths label homosexuality as a sin based on archaic writings. A few hateful verses in the Old Testament have led to hundreds of years of prejudice, hatred, violence, and pain. If we're going to follow the Old Testament, and use it to justify a hateful stance, there are several other things we need to start condemning and punishing. Leviticus 19:19 tells us we can't wear clothing of two kinds of material… so, basically every clothing item ever has to be burned. The next time you see someone wearing clothes(which is always… so, you're welcome for the opportunity to show your spiritual superiority), check the tag to see the materials it's made from. If it's more than one, tell them they should desire to walk around naked rather than wear clothing made of more than one material! Women, in Leviticus 15, we learn that God purposely made us unclean. When we menstruate, we are unclean for those 7 days. Oh, and anyone or anything that touches us during that time is unclean as well. You aren't allowed to go to church at that time because you'll corrupt everything there with your blood flow. Oh, and you know how God also gave us the ability to grow a human inside of us? Well, after a woman has a child, she has a period of impurity and cannot be touched. If it's a boy, she's unclean for 40 days. If it's a girl, she's unclean for 80 days. As a female, you also are not allowed to read from the scriptures (wait… how am I supposed to know about my impurity rituals then?! I need to know how to make myself pure after my period!..too bad). You also cannot preach in a church (can I use this excuse next time I'm asked to speak in church?) None of this is archaic, sexist, or totally illogical at all though, right? God commanded these things, so we need to make sure we make these into policies as well!

What I'm trying convey is that we like to pick and choose from the scriptures, and if we choose to use the Old Testament as a defense for condemning homosexuality… there's a whole lot more we need to be condemning as well. The Book of Mormon is supposed to be the keystone of the Church, right? It never once mentions homosexuality. What is does mention is that God disposed the practice of polygamy, and the Nephites are brought to repentance for practicing it…. yet, Joseph Smith said God commanded him to practice it. We can't keep picking and choosing what kind of God we worship, and we can't keep picking and choosing which commandments of his are to be enforced or not.

This is my official announcement and declaration that I believe heterosexuality and homosexuality are both natural and neither is sinful. I will never support the phrase "love the sinner, hate the sin" because that "sin" is part of who that person is. Homosexuality and transgenderism are not sins; if God made us, and those are part of who we are.. then God created that as well. I realize that my views counter the current day policies of the LDS Church, but I hope that over time the Church will come to see the harm these policies have. Church History shows that the Church has rescinded policies before that weren't doctrinal, and that weren't inspired by the Lord. I hope that this will some day apply to the stance on the LGBT community. I will always and forever stand up for the equality of the LGBT community. Sexuality and gender are not binary, they are on a spectrum and that's how we were made.

Stand up for humanity, love people because of who they are... not despite who they are. Trump can break the tradition of June being LGBT pride month, but I'm still going to celebrate it.. this month and every month to follow. #LGBTPrideMonth

Robertson's revised, unedited Facebook post (provided by Robertson)

In honor of LGBT Pride Month, I thought I would reveal some things in the name of authenticity. I'd like to preface this by saying that, as an employee of BYUI, my views do not reflect the school or LDS Church. These are my personal beliefs, and they have no place in my classroom nor will they ever. Students often approach me and ask my opinion on certain matters of the Church, and I always diplomatically discourage the discussion and tell them to seek their own truths rather than a professors. My students know that I expect respect and love for all, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. and that's the most I've said on the following subject.

I'm currently a member of the LDS Church. This organization has openly and forcefully opposed same-sex relationships and legalized same-sex marriage. They pushed members in California to fight against Prop 8, and had a policy claiming that same-sex relationships were a sin and discouraged individuals from participating in them. In the past, the Church was a facilitator for adoptions. They ended this part of the organization to avoid having to deal with adoption requests from same-sex couples. In November 2015, they took their stance further by labeling same-sex couples in the Church as apostates, meaning those found in these relationships would have a disciplinary hearing to determine their membership status; they can either end their engagements in this sinful life, or be excommunicated. The policy also prevents their children from joining the Church until they are 18, with the condition that they disavow their parents life style. For an organization that places so much importance on the family unit, this policy sure seems to be attacking a form of that unit.

Most Christian faiths label homosexuality as a sin based on archaic writings. A few hateful verses in the Old Testament have led to hundreds of years of prejudice, hatred, violence, and pain. If we're going to follow the Old Testament, and use it to justify a hateful stance, there are several other things we need to start condemning and punishing. Leviticus 19:19 tells us we can't wear clothing of two kinds of material… so, basically every clothing item ever has to be burned. The next time you see someone wearing clothes(which is always… so, you're welcome for the opportunity to show your spiritual superiority), check the tag to see the materials it's made from. If it's more than one, tell them they should desire to walk around naked rather than wear clothing made of more than one material! Women, in Leviticus 15, we learn that God purposely made us unclean. When we menstruate, we are unclean for those 7 days. Oh, and anyone or anything that touches us during that time is unclean as well. You aren't allowed to go to church at that time because you'll corrupt everything there with your blood flow. Oh, and you know how God also gave us the ability to grow a human inside of us? Well, after a woman has a child, she has a period of impurity and cannot be touched. If it's a boy, she's unclean for 40 days. If it's a girl, she's unclean for 80 days. As a female, you also are not allowed to read from the scriptures (wait… how am I supposed to know about my impurity rituals then?! I need to know how to make myself pure after my period!..too bad). You also cannot preach in a church (can I use this excuse next time I'm asked to speak in church?) None of this is archaic, sexist, or totally illogical at all though, right? God commanded these things, so we need to make sure we make these into policies as well!

What I'm trying convey is that we like to pick and choose from the scriptures, and if we choose to use the Old Testament as a defense for condemning homosexuality… there's a whole lot more we need to be condemning as well. The Book of Mormon is supposed to be the keystone of the Church, right? It never once mentions homosexuality. What is does mention is that God disposed the practice of polygamy, and the Nephites are brought to repentance for practicing it…. yet, Joseph Smith said God commanded him to practice it. We can't keep picking and choosing what kind of God we worship, and we can't keep picking and choosing which commandments of his are to be enforced or not.

This is my official announcement and declaration that I believe heterosexuality and homosexuality are both natural and neither is sinful. I will never support the phrase "love the sinner, hate the sin" because that "sin" is part of who that person is. Homosexuality and transgenderism are not sins; if God made us, and those are part of who we are.. then God created that as well. I realize that my views counter the current day policies of the LDS Church, but I hope that over time the Church will come to see the harm these policies have. Church History shows that the Church has rescinded policies before that weren't doctrinal, and that weren't inspired by the Lord. I hope that this will some day apply to the stance on the LGBT community. I will always and forever stand up for the equality of the LGBT community. Sexuality and gender are not binary, they are on a spectrum and that's how we were made.

Stand up for humanity, love people because of who they are... not despite who they are. Trump can break the tradition of June being LGBT pride month, but I'm still going to celebrate it.. this month and every month to follow. #LGBTPrideMonth

 

 

 

 

 

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