The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher reports on a recent episode at the University of Dallas concerning the now-common conflict between transgender ideology and academic freedom. Unusually for a story of this genre, there was a satisfactory resolution.
The story, as documented by Dreher, is that of a disgruntled transgender alumnus who wrote an open letter to the university’s board of trustees, bishop chancellor, faculty senate, president, and provost in response to alleged “social media posting of hatred against trans persons by chair of the political philosophy department, Prof. David Upham.”
The alleged offender, Professor Upham, had publicly posted a (since-deleted) message on Facebook, complaining about Biden’s appointment of Dr. Rachel Levine (formerly Richard Levine) as assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Upham expressed his disapproval of what he perceived to be Levine’s immoral lifestyle choices; the abandonment of his God-given vocation as a husband and father in order to “put on a somewhat convincing hormonal costume to go along with his conventionally feminine dress.” He also expressed concern that
Dr Levine, in concert with the whole Biden administration will try to use the powers of the federal government to FORCE others, by their words and their deed, including their medical expertise and know-how — to participate in these falsehoods, these hormonal and surgical harms — these wrongs.
The author of the letter asking for his removal (a self-identified married trans woman and father to adult children) identified Professor Upham, on the basis of his Facebook post, as an enemy of truth and charity and accordingly asked the university to remove him. But the university’s response, issued in the form of a joint statement by the president and provost, was unwavering:
The university is following its existing policies and protocols in this matter, and will not yield to internal or external demands to divert from them. We are not in the business of limiting the speech of our faculty and staff when they speak on personal social media sites. If anyone is wondering whether we uphold Catholic teaching, we do. Our Catholic identity and fidelity to its teachings is at the core of our mission. The university embraces unreservedly the Church’s articulation of the moral law, including its articulation of those truths that deal with the embodied nature of the human person and human sexuality. If anyone is wondering whether we will protect the civil rights of all the members of our community, we can say unequivocally that we will. UD endeavors to respect the intrinsic dignity of each and every person in a spirit of truth and charity.
One of the oddities of the objection made by Upham’s accuser was that Upham had used his social-media platform as a “bully pulpit.” But since when has the public or private life of a federal government official been beyond criticism? The University of Dallas ought to be commended for its commitment to First Amendment principles in upholding religious and academic freedom.