Students at the University of Texas at Dallas are outraged over homophobic tweets a professor posted last week.
“Can we at least try to find a cure for homosexuality, especially among men?” Timothy Farage, a computer science professor, tweeted. “Homosexual men have anal sex, which can lead to a variety of diseases.”
Farage’s Twitter account is down now, but UT-Dallas’s student newspaper, The Mercury, first reported Farage’s post and captured the tweet.
The tweets link to an article about monkeypox, which has disproportionately affected gay, bi, and queer men.
“First, it should be noted that this tweet was in response to an article about monkeypox, a disease that is mostly confined to men who have sex with men,” Farage, 71, wrote in an email, The Mercury reports. “This is true for some other diseases as well. So, I was being compassionate by asking if a cure for homosexuality could be found. I don’t know if it can, but I’d like to see research about it. I have had four homosexual friends (3 men and 1 woman) who wished they were heterosexual. There must be many others who feel the same way. Again, this shows a need to do research about homosexuality.”
LGBTQ+ student groups denounced Farage’s remarks.
“Being LGBTQ+ is not a ‘medical disorder,’ and LGBTQ+ students do not need to be ‘cured,’” said a statement from the UT-Dallas Rainbow Coalition, an organization of six student groups, The Dallas Morning News reports. “Not holding a professor accountable for such statements is unacceptable. Merely disavowing Farage’s actions actively makes our campus less safe.”
The university responded to Farage's comments via social media.
“We unequivocally denounce statements that disrespect groups or individual members of our community,” the statement said.
As an interim measure, the school announced Monday that it would open up additional sections of Farage’s class in the fall. Students who are uncomfortable with his lectures can therefore choose another professor.
“This will help our students remain on track to complete their degree while learning in a safe environment,” UT-Dallas said.
“While we will not be able to comment further pending the outcome of our investigations, we wish to reiterate that we take this matter seriously and that the statements by this individual do not reflect the core values of our institution,” the statement concluded.
When asked whether Farage has tenure at the school, a spokesperson directed The Advocate to the university’s previous statements and indicated that the institution had no further comment.
Chase Mueller, a junior majoring in psychology and president of the school's PRIDE organization, told The Advocate that he was horrified when he learned about the tweet “spreading an extreme level of hate and disinformation.”
“Insinuating that being gay is some kind of disease and that it, therefore, needed to be cured was incredibly disappointing but moreover absolutely damaging,” said Mueller, 20.
He is concerned that incoming students will feel that the school has an unwelcoming environment for LGBTQ+ people. Members of several LGBTQ+ campus organizations are frustrated and disappointed, he said, although UT-Dallas has a reputation for having an exceptionally LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere.
The campus community’s response has been resolute.
Stephanie G. Adams, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, condemned the comment in a letter signed by 13 university leaders.
UT-Dallas’s Galerstein Gender Center, which says on its website that it supports “women, LGBTQ+ people, and all communities facing oppression,” exhibited a rock with rainbow colors on it, the Morning News reports. A message on it read, “Here to stay!”
Due to the backlash, Farage has taken down his Twitter account. But he told the Morning News, “Professors at public universities have free-speech rights, so I have a right to say that,” referring to his comments.
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