Gallaudet University on Wednesday announced that it has placed its chief diversity officer, Angela McCaskill, on a paid leave after she signed a petition to overturn Maryland’s Civil Marriage Protection Act, which allows gay couples to marry.
“It recently came to my attention that Dr. McCaskill has participated in a legislative initiative that some feel is inappropriate for an individual serving as Chief Diversity Officer,” university president T. Alan Hurwitz said in a statement. “I will use the extended time while she is on administrative leave to determine the appropriate next steps taking into consideration the duties of this position at the university.”
McCaskill’s name on the petition, which was proposed this summer, was spotted by a school faculty member after the Maryland board of elections made the names on the petition available to the public. The unidentified faculty member filed a complaint about McCaskill with the university.
Gallaudet is a nationally recognized college for the deaf and hard of hearing. The mission of McCaskill’s office, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, is to provide a supportive climate for a diverse community.
Planet DeafQueer reported on Oct. 8 that McCaskill was a supporter of Gallaudet’s LGBTQA Resource Center. Many students, faculty and staff reportedly felt shocked, angry and disappointed when they learned she had signed an anti-gay marriage petition.
“She’s been a great ally to the LGBT community and supported many of the LGBTQA Resource Center’s programs,” an anonymous student said to Planet DeafQueer. “I’m heartbroken about this.”
Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign manager Josh Levin released a statement Wednesday evening in response to Gallaudet’s decision to place McCaskill on leave.
“We strongly disagree with the decision to put the chief diversity officer on leave and hope she is reinstated immediately,” Levin said. “Everyone is entitled to free speech and to their own opinion about Question 6, which is about treating everyone fairly and equally under the law.”