Students in the unofficial gay-straight alliance at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif., rallied today to express support for a transgender theology professor who was asked to leave his job after 15 years with the evangelical institution.
Adam Ackley, a professor of systematic theology at APU, had been teaching at the school for more than a decade, living as a married woman. In late September, Ackley told administrators that he's a transgender man and revealed that he is going through a divorce.
University officials claimed Ackley's transgender identity puts him at odds with the school's evangelical Christian doctrine and expressed concern that keeping him in the classroom during his clinical and legal transition could be a "distraction" for the students, and affect future enrollment and donations.
On Thursday, members of APU's GSA, Haven, wore shirts and carried banners that read "We Stand With Adam" as they gathered on the quad before and after the daily chapel service. Ackley's final day on campus will be Friday, according to the APU's student publication, Clause.
"We were just doing that to show APU that we do not agree with the decisions that are being made right now," Haven copresident Alyson Thatcher told Clause. "It’s just to show support for Adam."
Last week, Ackley said in a Facebook post that the university would allow him "through the end of the academic year" to seek other employment, acknowledging that both he and APU agreed that they "may not currently be the best fit for one another. … However, the place we are struggling to come to understanding has to do with impact on students I currently serve enrolled in my fall classes."