Idaho

BYU-I fires adjunct professor after Facebook post about LGBT pride

The Boise Pridefest Pride Parade was held in Boise, Idaho. Saturday June 20, 2015
The Boise Pridefest Pride Parade was held in Boise, Idaho. Saturday June 20, 2015 kgreen@idahostatesman.com

An adjunct professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho was fired after she refused to retract a Facebook post supporting the LGBT community, Salt Lake City’s KUTV reported.

Ruthie Robertson taught political science at the Rexburg campus, but her employment there was terminated as summer courses ended last week, the TV station said. The decision reportedly came after Robertson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, posted on Facebook in June in support of LGBT Pride month.

“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,” Robertson’s post read.

Robertson told KUTV that school administrators implied she could keep her job if she retracted the post, which also criticized the LDS church’s stance that children of gay couples can’t be baptized until they are 18. She later posted an edited version of the post “at the request of the university, under the impression it would save my job,” Robertson told the Statesman.

“There is absolutely nothing in the contract that a faculty (member) signs that says you cannot disagree with something in the church policy,” Robertson said. “We are asked to support the testimonies of students and instill testimonies of the gospel.”

Her Facebook post is private, and Robertson said she did not teach her beliefs in the classroom or allow students to follow her online.

“When I posted it, I didn't think it would be risking my job at all. I knew it would be controversial, but that's nothing new for me. Definitely didn't expect a friend to report me,” she said. It’s not clear how school officials learned of the post.

BYU-Idaho declined to comment on the station, citing a policy against discussing personnel matters.

KUTV said that, as of July 17, Robertson was listed in the BYU-Idaho catalog as teaching classes through 2018, an indication that she was still contracted with the school prior to the Facebook post.

Robertson said the point of the post was to let LGBT friends and family know that she supports them — a statement she “couldn’t take back,” she said.

The former instructor said her friends have been very supportive, but her family less so.

“They're very upset with my views, and they're furious that I've allowed this to go public,” she told the Statesman.

Still, she said her goal has been to “improve the love and acceptance in the church and its schools” by empowering her students to effect change through love, tolerance and understanding.

“(The church and its schools) have this idea of love the sinner and hate the sin ... By doing that, you're hating a part of who that person is. You're placing a condition on love, and that's not how Christ was or is,” Robertson said. “I don't know what God the church seems to be worshiping now, but it's not the one I've come to know and love.”

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