1. After coming out as transgender, H. Adam Ackley was asked to step down from his teaching position of nearly 15 years at Azusa Pacific University.
The 47-year-old former head of the theology department is currently in his third of a five-year contract.
2. APU is a private evangelical Christian university outside Los Angeles.
3. Ackley will not stay on staff to finish out the academic year.
He told Religious News Service that the university said it will continue to pay him through the academic year — the university wants other professors to take over his classes.
4. Ackley stated that he didn’t get the sense the individuals with whom he was speaking had a “theological problem with transgender identity.”
Rather, he believes that the decision had to do with “their concern that other people, such as donors, parents, and churches connected to the university would have problems understanding transgender identity.”
5. Ackley officially came out as transgender earlier this year, following the American Psychiatric Association removing “gender identity disorder” from its list of mental illnesses:
6. He explained the situation in his own words on a public Facebook account:
Please let me clarify that I was asked to step down and agreed to some extent — namely I agreed that the university and I may not currently be the best fit for one another and that it makes sense in light of that for me to find employment elsewhere, and that they are being quite gracious to give me through the end of this academic year to do that — 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. The university prefers that others take over these courses sooner rather than later, with it being early in the term, but I am not sure our students will share that preference and I only wish to serve their best interests. My hope is to be a resource to students and to the faculty who take over these classes to make this transition as smooth as possible or somehow to come to realization that perhaps I could serve by continuing to finish out my teaching term.
7. The university’s policy regarding sexual expression states that “expression of sexuality is to take place within the context of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman.”
The school’s “What We Believe” page does not address transgender issues directly.
8. The school does have a “Human Sexuality” section that references several Bible passages:
1) Humans, being created in the image of God, are inherently relational beings (Genesis 1:26).
2) The inherent relational nature of humankind is expressed in a variety of contexts including family, marriage, work, and for Christians, the body of Christ (Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Corinthians 12:14).
3) Humans were created as gendered beings. They were expressly blessed by God to be fruitful and multiply and to exercise dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26-28).
9. In a YouTube video posted Friday, Ackley expresses the struggle of accepting his transgender identity as a deeply Christian individual.
10. His own personal “Christian transphobia” led to periods of “self-medicating, self-injuring, and self-starving of the female body during a suicidal relapse.”
11. Watch full video:
12. Reportedly, Ackley will be meeting with lawyers to decide the best course of action.
Since leaving APU, Ackley has received offers from other universities and institutions to teach or consult.