An adjunct professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho has lost her job after refusing to retract an LGBT-supportive Pride Month post on her Facebook page.
Ruthie Robertson taught her final class at the Mormon school in Rexburg last week, reports Salt Lake City TV station KUTV. She had taught political science classes online since December and on campus since April, but her contract for the fall and winter terms has been canceled, she told the station.
Robertson is a member in good standing of the Mormon Church, formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which strongly opposes homosexuality. Members are expected to refrain from same-sex relationships, and the church in recent years has strengthened its position, even denying membership to most children of same-sex couples -- and allowing the children, once they reach age 18, to join the church only if they condemn their parents' relationship.
The harsher policy, announced in November 2015, particularly upset Robertson, who said she has many LGBT friends. She posted the Facebook message June 5 in support of them.
"For an organization that places so much importance on the family unit, this policy sure seems to be attacking a form of that unit," she wrote. "Most Christian faiths label homosexuality as a sin based on archaic writings. A few hateful verses in the Old Testament have led to hundreds of years of prejudice, hatred, violence, and pain."
She mentioned that the Bible's book of Leviticus, which has verses often used to condemn homosexuality, also prohibits the wearing of garments made from two kinds of fabric, and teaches that women are unclean during their menstrual periods and for a time after childbirth.
"None of this is archaic, sexist, or totally illogical at all though, right?" Robertson wrote. "God commanded these things, so we need to make sure we make these into policies as well! What I'm trying convey is that we like to pick and choose from the scriptures, and if we choose to use the Old Testament as a defense for condemning homosexuality ... there's a whole lot more we need to be condemning as well."
"This is my official announcement and declaration that I believe heterosexuality and homosexuality are both natural and neither is sinful," she continued. "I will never support the phrase 'love the sinner, hate the sin' because that 'sin' is part of who that person is. Homosexuality and transgenderism are not sins; if God made us, and those are part of who we are then God created that as well."
Robertson, a lifelong Mormon and BYUI alum, added that the LDS Church has changed policies on other issues, so she hopes it will someday change its approach to LGBT people. "I will always and forever stand up for the equality of the LGBT community," she concluded. "Sexuality and gender are not binary, they are on a spectrum and that's how we were made. Stand up for humanity, love people because of who they are ... not despite who they are. Trump can break the tradition of June being LGBT pride month, but I'm still going to celebrate it ... this month and every month to follow. #LGBTPrideMonth."
Robertson said she thought the post was private; no students followed her on Facebook at the time, although she has accepted friend requests from some since her firing. She also said in a subsequent post that when students try to engage her in discussion on these issues, she politely declines and encourages them to form their own opinions. She thinks a former roommate who had previously objected to her posts on feminism alerted BYUI officials, she told KUTV. When administrators confronted her about the post, it was "implied" that she could keep her job if she retracted it, but she refused, the station reports.
BYUI officials declined comment to the station, saying personnel matters are confidential. Robertson said she doesn't know where she'll go to teach next.