Friday, November 27, 2015

Cherry Hill Seminary: My Paganism has no room for hate speech

I had been waiting to write about this until I could carve out some time to address it in more depth.  But integrity is demanding I say something now.

I am so disappointed in and angry about Cherry Hill Seminary's response to the transphobic and transmisogynist behavior and hate speech of its faculty member Ruth Barrett.  (Content warnings on that second link.)

Cherry Hill Seminary had an opportunity to support academic freedom, and also to stand up for some of the most vulnerable members of our community and in their constituency -- people whose lives are in danger every day.  That danger is increased by behavior like Ruth Barrett's.  (No, I didn't make this up; the experience of transgender people and the research are very clear about that.)  I am particularly aware of this in the wake of this year's Transgender Day of Remembrance. 

Instead Cherry Hill Seminary threw transgender people under the bus.

If Chery Hill's President and Executive Director -- Jeffrey Albaugh and Holli Emore -- support its faculty in bullying and directing hate speech against my transgender sisters, I know I can't count on them to stand up for me when I'm in the crosshairs, either.

In the past, I have recommended Cherry Hill Seminary to many friends, including transgender friends.  In the past, I have donated money to Cherry Hill Seminary.  I'm sorry I can no longer recommend taking courses at CHS to anyone, and can no longer donate money to CHS.  I'm sorry I have to choose between my integrity as a Witch (and my safety as a member of several minorities), and supporting Cherry Hill Seminary. 

The Board and staff of Cherry Hill Seminary still have the opportunity to respond differently to this situation.  For the sake of all Pagans, I hope they choose to.