Students rallied Wednesday behind a theology professor who was asked to step down from his position after coming out as transgender to officials at a Christian university, reports NBC/Los Angeles
“When Azusa Pacific University Professor H. Adam Ackley, formerly Heather Ann Clements, formally asked the private school in Azusa to recognize his name and gender change, the university immediately asked him to leave his post.
“Ackley’s lawyer said the professor of 15 years did not violate any school policies.
“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,” said student Margaret van der Bie.
“Students said Ackley was still teaching at least for another week, and the university said it was in ongoing discussions with him on his employment.
“The school said it respects the students’ right to protest.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll all agree on the same thing, but we are very much committed to the care and compassion of our students,” said Kim Denu, an Azusa Pacific professor.
“Ackley, who was once the school’s chair of theology and philosophy, said he has received an “overwhelming amount of support” from students and colleagues, as well as on social media, since his story came to light.”
The story of ordained minister and Azusa Pacific University Professor H. Adam Ackley has received considerable public attention in recent days, ever since the university requested that Ackley leave his professorship. Today’s Huffington Post carries Ackley’s own account of the story:
“I am a transgender professor who has served full-time as, variously, a professor of theology, a professor of church history, a professor of ministry, department chair, and university diversity council co-chair at a Christian university for 15 years, most of which I spent in treatment with female hormones and psychiatric medications for gender dysphoria and related symptoms of mental illness. Recent changes in diagnosis and treatment of transgender persons, along with a lifetime of research on the theology and biblical understanding of gender, have helped me live as one who is clearly sane by ceasing to fight my transgender-masculine identity. However, this has caused what has become a very public conflict with my employer, one that is being mediated with outside help and cannot be addressed any further here.
“I’ve publicly commented on my personal chastity at this specific season of my life only to help clarify for this conflicted community that gender and sexual behavior are different, since that is not clear to all involved. However, it is equally important to me that I never even implicitly contribute to homophobia in this community. Therefore, I want to affirm clearly that I am not embarrassed to be a lover of men. Rather, I have been embarrassed by having my gender identity publicly confused with my private sexual conduct, and by the silence of those who could help clarify that misunderstanding. The only reason that this even embarrasses me is that my current private personal experience includes the breakup of a fraudulent marriage, with children involved, as an ordained minister and a person who chooses to live in faithful covenant with a particular faith tradition (Christianity). Therefore, for me personally, it is most appropriate in this season of my life to live and witness to my young adult students and my children a singleness of devotion to what is healing and nourishing in my present life: parenting, prayer, teaching, preaching, and personal recovery. Continue reading “H. Adam Ackley”
A California Christian college has asked a professor who was once its chair of theology and philosophy to leave Azusa Pacific University after he came out as transgender, reports RNS Religious News.
“Heather Clements taught theology at the school for 15 years, but this past year, he has begun referring to himself as H. Adam Ackley.
“Ackley, who is in his third year of a five-year contract, told RNS that he and APU have agreed to part ways as the university said it will continue to pay him through the academic year. But, he said, the university wants other professors to take over his classes. He also said that his insurance was denied when he sought hormone treatment and “top surgery” for his chest area.
“They’re giving me privacy to transition but denying medical treatment to do that,” said Ackley who is 47 years old.
“APU spokesperson Rachel White declined to discuss Ackley’s employment, saying that the issue is ongoing and personnel matters are confidential. Ackley said he is meeting with a university lawyer on Monday.
“Azusa Pacific University is an evangelical university of about 10,000 students and 1,200 faculty located northeast of Los Angeles. To his knowledge, Ackley said there is nothing in theuniversity’s policies about transgender people, just that “Humans were created as gendered beings.”
“I did not get a sense directly from the individuals with whom I was speaking that they had a theological problem with transgender identity,” Ackley said. “I did get the message that it has to do with their concern that other people, such as donors, parents and churches connected to the university will have problems not understanding transgender identity.” Ackley said that he accepted his transgender identity this year after the American Psychiatric Association removed “gender identity disorder” from the list of mental illnesses in its manual. Continue reading “Azusa asks transgender theologian to leave”