Students at the University of Texas at Dallas want action against a faculty member who defends his remarks calling for “a cure for homosexuality.”
Timothy Farage, a computer science professor, tweeted a story on Friday indicating that the majority of monkeypox cases in New York are males.
“Can we at least try to find a cure for homosexuality, especially among men? Gay men have anal sex which can lead to various diseases,” Farage wrote on Twitter.
LGBT student organizations were quick to denounce Farage’s comments as homophobic and dangerous to the campus community.
“Being LGBTQ+ is not a ‘medical condition,’ and LGBTQ+ students do not need to be ‘cured,'” read a statement from the UT-Dallas Rainbow Coalition, which is made up of six groups of campus. “Not holding a professor accountable for such statements is unacceptable. Simply disavowing Farage’s actions makes our campus less safe.
Farage, who has taught at the school for more than 20 years, defended his comment, saying he was not ‘hateful, bigoted, homophobic or racist’ and that finding a cure for ‘gay people who would rather be straight’ is “compassionate”. .”
“If someone doesn’t want to be, why not try to find a way to help them do it?” said the 71-year-old. “My comment was to try to be helpful and compassionate…I never said a word against gay people or transgender people or anything.”
Saturday, the university posted on social media that school officials were aware of a faculty member’s recent tweets and stressed that the person’s opinions do not represent the campus. University officials said they were reviewing and investigating complaints about the statement.
“We know that LGBTQ+ students, staff, and faculty already face challenges in their lives that can negatively impact their mental and physical well-being,” UT-Dallas officials wrote on Twitter.
The statement highlighted campus resources aimed at affirming and supporting the school’s LGBT community. “UT Dallas is committed to providing a welcoming, respectful and inclusive educational, living and working environment,” the officials added.
School officials declined to comment beyond the released statement. (UT-Dallas supports the Dallas Morning News Education Lab.)
PRIDE at UT-Dallas President Chase Mueller, a young psychology student, said he was horrified when he learned of the tweet.
“This misinformation creates a dangerous environment for LGBTQ+ students on campus who feel like they have to hide their identity,” said Mueller, 20.
Members of several LGBT campus organizations are frustrated and disappointed, he added. Mueller worries that incoming students may feel that the school has an unwelcoming environment for members of these communities.
The UT-Dallas student newspaper, The Mercury, first reported on Farage’s message.
Since then, in a letter signed by 13 university leaders, Stephanie G. Adams, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT-Dallas, denounced the comment, adding that the school is a place where any student being their “authentic most self, whether black, white, gay, straight, Christian, Buddhist, fully able-bodied or not, should feel welcome and like you belong.
Some students have contacted the school expressing concerns for their safety or that of their classmates, so officials have opened up additional sections of the fall classes taught by Farage to include at least one other teacher and give instructions. options to students, Adams noted.
Robert Lonergan, a junior specializing in information technology and systems, gathered with others on Monday to write sidewalk chalk messages protesting Farage’s comments.
The bold, colorful text on the floor read ‘we cannot be erased by one person’s hatred’ and ‘my existence is not up for debate’.
Lonergan, who identifies as pansexual and non-binary, believes people’s identities should not be questioned.
“I sincerely hope that [Farage] can learn from this and move on and be a human being that contributes to the well-being of LGBTQ people,” he said. “I hope he realizes how harmful this rhetoric is.”
UT-Dallas’ Galerstein Gender Center, a longtime on-campus resource dedicated to supporting “women, LGBTQ+ people, and all communities facing oppression,” displayed a rainbow-colored rock rainbow and a message that reads “Here to stay!” »
The center is hosting a virtual event on Wednesday titled “Embrace Space: Affirming and Supporting Our Diverse Community at UT-Dallas” to share campus resources.
Misconceptions about monkeypox have circulated recently as the virus spread primarily among gay and bisexual men during the latest outbreak, said Sean Cahill, director of health policy research at the Fenway Institute, an organization health care, research and LGBT advocacy.
“That doesn’t mean it’s a gay disease. It’s actually not a sexually transmitted disease,” said Cahill, 59. “The professor’s mention of anal sex may have nothing to do with the spread of monkeypox.”
Officials noted that the virus can be spread through skin-to-skin contact.
Generalizations should be avoided because outbreaks could occur in other communities, which is difficult to know because there is not enough testing going on, Cahill added.
“The last thing we need is more stigma and ignorance about gay people, and gay men in particular,” he said. “Stigma causes people not to seek treatment.”
Cahill also pointed out that “there is no cure for homosexuality,” noting that conversion therapy only increases rates of depressive symptoms, loneliness, and suicidal ideation.
The Trevor Project, a nonprofit that focuses on suicide prevention efforts among LGBT youth, has consistently found that students who have access to LGBT-affirming schools — and trans students who receive support from their teachers and peers – report lower rates of suicide attempts, said Nicholas Turton, spokesman for the organization.
It’s estimated that more than about 1.8 million LGBT youth between the ages of 13 and 24 seriously consider suicide every year in the United States — and at least one suicide attempt every 45 seconds, according to The Trevor Project.
Although he remains firm in his remarks, Farage deleted his Twitter account due to the backlash he received online.
“Professors at public universities have the right to free speech, so I have the right to say that,” he said.
The DMN Education Lab deepens coverage and conversation about pressing education issues critical to the future of North Texas.
The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, Garrett and Cecilia Boone, The Meadows Foundation, The Murrell Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University, Todd A. Williams Family Foundation, and the University of Texas at Dallas. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of Education Lab journalism.