Fired for being gay and speaking my mind: St Joseph's professor

The college sacked Ashley Tellis for 'disturbing' students with his opinions

Fired for being gay and speaking my mind: St Joseph's professor

A professor at St Joseph’s College of Arts and Science who was sacked on Thursday has claimed that his opinions on a wide range of issues, including homosexuality, cost him the job.

Ashley Tellis, who describes himself as “an academic, a gay rights activist, an aspiring feminist activist and general shit-stirrer” on his Facebook page, claimed that the college sacked him as he was vocal about many issues, including homosexuality.

“How can someone be sacked for voicing their opinion? I am told that it disturbed a few students. I wonder who these students are? I do not think my opinions were undemocratic,” he told DH on Friday. Tellis said he was not even given a month’s notice before being asked him to leave. “During debates, I have been vocal about my views on sexuality. Challenging dominant ideas might have upset them,” he said.

Tellis also put out a tell-all post on Facebook on Friday. “...He (principal) calls me in and tells me: ‘Students are disturbed by your personal opinions... I have been asked to relieve you with immediate effect.’ ‘Really? What opinions?’ I ask. ‘Students are very much disturbed by your opinions. You were hired to teach English Literature. Not to give your personal opinions,’ comes the reply (sic).’”

The professor claimed that his criticism of several “draconian” rules that the college authorities had enforced could be the main reason why he was sacked. He said he would take the matter to court, if need be.

College denies homophobia
The college has denied that Tellis was sacked for his sexual orientation. “He had clearly stated his orientation in his application and at the interview. The college deemed this to be his personal choice.

Later, while we appreciated his intellectual abilities and his scholarship, we were pained to note that he seemed to pay no heed to the sensitivities of undergraduate students from heterogeneous backgrounds. After receiving several complaints from students and their parents about him having crossed the line repeatedly in his interaction and comments, the management decided that it would be for the best to terminate his services,” it said in a statement.

Ankit K, a former student, has refused to believe Tellis’s accusation.

“We have had transgender activists conduct sessions for us in the past. The college has been open to ideas. This incident comes as a shock to me and I would refuse to believe that he was sacked for being gay.”
 

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