In some countries that practice the faith, being gay can be a death sentence. Most adults in the United States do not have to worry about wide-sweeping laws like this, but often they are aware of the dire consequences of being gay in a state.
A graduate student in Texas made the mistake of discussing his concern over this fact, and he was threatened with academic action for speaking out. Alfred MacDonald is now speaking out against the efforts ofto force some punishment onto him after he spoke out about his fears towards the religion as a bi-sexual man. This occurred at the University of at San Antonio.
MacDonald started an out of the class conversation with another student about the possibility of taking a philosophy class as an atheist. He was concerned about the religious beliefs of some of the professors influencing his ability to successfully finish the course as an atheist.
While talking to the other student about the issue, the two were joined by Browning. The professor stated she had taken a class with a Catholic instructor and had no problem as a practicing atheist.
The initial conversation continued with a female student who shared she was a Christian. MacDonald stated that he had positive interactions with those who are Christian. The student then went on to openly share that her fiance was a.
The tone of the conversation turned at that point as MacDonald expressed his fear related to the fact that in several countries he could be killed for being bisexual. He made a general statement about this fact and concluded by saying “…I don’t have a high opinion of.”
During the conversation with the other graduate student, MacDonald made it clear he had no issue with her fiance as a person. His opinions about Islam were general and tied to the fact that he could be killed in more than a few Islamic countries for being who he is.
A short time after the private conversation with the other student, MacDonald was called to Browning’s office to talk. It seems another professor had complained about MacDonald expressing his safety concerns with those who practice the faith.
As the topics surrounding the interaction with the Christian classmate engaged to a came up, Browning quickly explained his actions were offensive, and statements were derogatory. Even though the student was speaking of his fear of being killed for being bisexual, these comments were offensive when said to someone who was engaged to a.
MacDonald shared with Browning that he merely stated the truth about the fate of gay people in countries. As MacDonald shared, “…I said that I was bothered that I could be killed in ten countries. I’m bisexual.”
Even though MacDonald made a valid point about his safety is at risk in a country, Browning went on to tell him that his speaking out was causing issues in the department and went against the overall goals of the college. Browning made it a point to say that the behavior was not going to be tolerated.
MacDonald asked for clarification as to what she meant when she said it was not going to be tolerated. Browning told MacDonald that:
“I can refer you to the Behavior Intervention Team on our campus which consists of a counselor, faculty member, and person from student affairs who are trained on talking to people about what’s appropriate or what isn’t.
We’d put it either before the behavior intervention team or the student conduct board and ask them to make a recommendation. Whether they would refer you for counseling; whether they would recommend that you be academically dismissed.”
In this case, it seemed that Browning was not concerned about MacDonald expressing his fear, that was already deemed as being not appropriate. She was not only threatening to turn him over to counseling of sorts to learn better behavior, but it could also end in him being dismissed from the college.
The threat of being thrown out of school was not the end of the discussion with Browning. She also explained to the student that if he were an employee and not a student that type of comment could end his career. More than once MacDonald attempted to clarify with Browning the underlying issue tied to him being fearful for his life in many countries. It just was not acceptable to discuss this part of the faith as it hurt others. It did not matter that his concerns were accurate.
The original run-in with Browning in her office occurred in 2016, but MacDonald was waiting to release the taped conversation until a point in time where she could not carry out her threat to kick him out of school. He is still in good standing with the college, and she has no influence over his placement at the college.
MacDonald has now gone public with his concerns over Browning being on staff at a public college. He has used social media to share the experience and Browning has been quick to ask each place the published the tapes of their conversation was posted to remove them.