A group of UC Davis philosophy professors have signed a petition calling for the American Philosophical Association to stop advertising universities that it claims discriminate based on sexual orientation.
Supporters of the petition argue that the APA is violating its own anti-discrimination policy by advertising universities that ban homosexuality as part of their ethical standards for staff and faculty. Currently, the APA – which has over 10,000 members – includes these universities in their “Jobs for Philosophers” publication, which compiles academic job opportunities for those in the philosophical community.
“Even though the [APA] policy allows institutions with a religious affiliation to explicitly require faculty members to share that affiliation, the policy does not permit this requirement where it means the institution discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation,” said philosophy teacher’s assistant Brad Morris, who signed the petition. “A school can legally violate the policy, but in such a case, the APA is obligated to censure the school for doing so.“
Colleges named in the petition that prohibit students and faculty from engaging in “homosexual acts” include Azusa Pacific University, Pepperdine University, Biola University and Westmont College.
The petition calls for the APA to correct the violation of its policy by either removing the schools from its publication or by marking them as censured schools. The APA has done this in the past when advertising schools that violate its anti-discrimination policy.
If the APA refuses to do either of these things, the petition calls for it to remove its anti-discrimination policy in order to “end the illusion that a primary function of the APA is to protect the rights of its members.“
“In short, the petition asks for a consistent APA policy on discrimination,” said Roberta Millstein, a UC Davis philosophy professor who also signed the petition. “However, I think it’s also true that most of us who signed it think that there is no legitimate basis for an ethical argument against homosexuality or ‘homosexual acts.‘”
Pepperdine University defended its stance as a reflection of its religious affiliation.
“Though Pepperdine is certainly welcoming of all people and hospitable toward all, it holds a traditional biblical view of relationships,” said Jerry Derloshon, executive director of public relations for the university. “Pepperdine believes it has a right to live out its Christian founding. What [supporters of the petition] do with that is up to them.“
Millstein said that the petition has received wide support from the philosophy community.
“As of now, the petition has 1,350 signatures which is strong support, especially given that philosophers don’t as a rule tend to sign petitions readily,” she said. “I think [the petition] has a pretty good chance, perhaps not of being immediately successful, but of being successful in the long run and leading to future discussions.“
Morris said he also believes the petition will ultimately be successful.
“The position of the petition is that the APA should enforce its current policy in a clear manner,” he said. “Regardless of what you think about sexual orientation – do what you say you do, or don’t say you do it, it’s as simple as that. Any philosopher worth his or her salt should be willing to sign it.“
ERICA LEE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.