A tenured California college professor was the focus of a four-month investigation after he wrote a letter to the local newspaper critical of the school’s plans for a new degree in homosexual studies.
The letter appeared in the Alameda Journal after the College of Alameda announced it was creating a new degree program in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies. The faculty member raised questions about budget priorities and the appearance of nepotism related to the new degree.
Shortly afterwards, the professor was confronted by an irate co-worker who filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment – stemming from the letter. The investigation took four months. He did not face disciplinary action – but was warned not to discuss the investigation with anyone but his legal counsel.
“This is an egregious violation of his rights under the First Amendment and shows the growing intolerance and one-sided tyranny of community colleges like Alameda,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute and the professor’s legal counsel.
“This action by the community college against this professor – simply for critiquing a new, controversial class on LGBT is a serious violation of the free speech rights of this professor,” he said.
Dacus said they are not releasing the name of the professor over fears he might suffer additional reprisals in the community.
“They treated him like he was some sort of criminal simply because he questioned the merits of the community college spending their limited resources on a class that was purely for the purposes of exploring and discussing controversial sexual lifestyles,” he said.
Messages left with the College of Alameda were not returned.
The college has a history of restricting free speech. Less than 5 years ago, they were the defendants in a federal lawsuit after two students were suspended and threatened with expulsion for praying on campus. That case was later settled.
Dacus said they plan on holding the college accountable after what they did to the professor. He said it’s not unusual for opinions to be stifled in that part of California – near San Francisco.
“That community likes to pride itself on being tolerant,” he said. “But one-way tolerance is not tolerance at all. It’s tyranny.”