In a sign that there may be some small sliver of anti-woke resolve left in the world of higher education comes news that a faculty member at a Virginia university has agreed to resign amid backlash over comments he made suggesting that adult sexual attraction to children was not necessarily immoral, as the New York Post reports.
Allyn Walker, 34, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion University, will step down from his position due to the controversy that erupted over his stance on what most people refer to as pedophilia.
The transgender educator who prefers the pronouns they/them said in an interview earlier this fall that an adult’s sexual attraction to youngsters is not something that is necessarily wrong, provided that it “isn’t acted on,” as The Hill recently noted.
Walker also declared that it was far better to refer to individuals who harbor a sexual affinity for kids as “minor-attracted persons,” rather than pedophiles, so as to avoid assigning a negative stigma to such individuals.
Though the professor claims that their work and opinions were “mischaracterized by some in the media and online, partly on the basis of [his] trans identity,” they ultimately acquiesced to requests for his departure, with university president Brian Hemphill stating that the move was “the best way to move forward,” according to the Post.
A joint statement from Walker and Hemphill added, “We hope today’s action helps bring closure for our Monarch family. As we move forward, I encourage all members of the Monarch family to continue our efforts toward healing and civil discourse,” The Hill reported separately.
Walker had been placed on administrative leave soon after the controversy over the aforementioned comments erupted, with the university stating that safety concerns and threats had emerged in the days that followed.
At that time, Walker attempted to defend their incendiary stance, saying, “The idea that I’m somehow condoning child sexual abuse is absolutely outrageous. I really think it’s a coordinated effort about attacking the LGBTQ community and academic freedom,” The Hill reported.
Though institutions of higher education must always remain havens for intellectual debate, discussion and exploration, there are some viewpoints that simply cross the ethical line to an untenable degree, and when donors, administrators, and other stakeholders fear that the backlash poses an unacceptable level of risk, a departure such as this one should come as no surprise.