Students hit out at Prof’s views about homosexuality

Fri, 13 Aug 2010

A distinguished British professor is facing a backlash from students at St Andrews University because of his stance on homosexuality.

Prof Roger Scruton was appointed quarter-time professorial fellow in moral philosophy and is due to take up his new role in the spring.

But the university’s students’ association has hit out at comments Prof Scruton made in 2007, where he defended the rights of children in an article about same-sex adoption, and stated that homosexuality was “not normal”.

Objections

The group has raised objections to Prof Scruton’s appointment claiming his views could create an “uncomfortable” atmosphere for homosexual students.

Owen Wilton, the president of the students’ association, said officials listened to their arguments but “defended every academic’s right to freedom of speech.”

Prof Scruton is currently a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC and the Visiting Professor of Aesthetics at the philosophy faculty of Oxford University.

Freedom

A university statement said: “Like all members of staff, Prof Scruton will be expected to abide by our equal opportunities and anti-discrimination policies.”

The statement continued: “Universities, however, particularly where philosophical argument is concerned, must be the one place where differing and difficult views can be freely held, expressed and challenged without fear of discrimination.

“That is the essence of academic freedom.”

Barred

Last month a popular professor was barred from teaching at a US university after he explained Roman Catholic beliefs on homosexuality during a course on Catholicism.

After the lecture to his “Introduction to Catholicism” class at the University of Illinois, Professor Kenneth Howell emailed his students and encouraged each of them to approach issues about homosexuality “as a thinking adult”.

His email prompted a complaint from a friend of an anonymous student, who denounced the email as hate speech and claimed to be “offended”.

Denied

The University responded by suspending Prof Howell and denying him any opportunity to defend his position, despite his excellent record.

But with the backing of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a US-based religious liberty organisation, Professor Kenneth Howell was swiftly reinstated.

Also last month a Christian student in the US was told she will not be permitted to graduate unless she changed her beliefs.

Change

Jennifer Keeton, 24, is studying for a degree in counselling at Augusta State University in Georgia.

But University chiefs say her beliefs about sexual ethics do not conform to the prevailing views of the counselling profession, and she must change or get out.

She has been ordered to undergo a re-education plan involving “remediation” assignments and “diversity sensitivity training”.

Re-education

She must report back on how the re-education has influenced her beliefs. If she refuses, she has been told she faces being thrown off her degree course.

She has also been urged to attend a homosexual parade in Augusta.

The student, supported by the ADF, is suing the University for interfering with her religious liberty.