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Professor faces suspension after sending students to pro-traditional family conference

California State University-Northridge administrators have accused a conservative-leaning professor of retaliating against students who complained of discrimination after voluntarily attending an event on family issues for class credit.

Though the initial charges — that the conference was discriminatory in itself because panelists voiced concern for children raised by homosexual couples — were dropped in October, Dr. Robert Oscar Lopez was recently found guilty of “retaliatory acts” against students in violation of an administrative policy.

The provost wrote a letter detailing the ruling, which alleges Lopez tried to “intimidate and prevent [students] from exercising their rights to report what they perceived to be a hostile learning environment.”

Lopez told The College Fix he faces the possibility of suspension without pay or outright dismissal, but has not been advised on when a decision will be ROLmade. He is the only professor who has been investigated at CSUN this year.

The apparently contentious conference, “Bonds that Matter,” was held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library last fall, and its presenters discussed children’s rights and the history of two parent, male-female familial structures. Professor Lopez gave his English students the option of attending the conference or completing an optional writing assignment. Roughly 75 percent of Lopez’s 160 person class opted to attend the conference.

Following the conference, two students filed complaints that the conference speakers made anti-female and anti-gay statements during the question and answer session which followed presentations. The complainants failed to note all of the panelists were women.

Professor Lopez said that the main complainant (whose name has been redacted to protect his or her privacy), pressed the presenters to answer questions about whether or not gay couples should be allowed to adopt children, despite the fact that these inquiries strayed from the subject of the talks.

One of the complainants, who is gay, filed a complaint stating that they failed a class because of the conference’s effects on their psyche. The student was also an officer in a prominent gay rights organization on campus at that time.

Cal State Northridge’s tax-payer funded office of equity and diversity conducted a secret, 245-day investigation against Lopez before informing him of his students’ complaints. Lopez was permitted to defend himself in an interview with CSUN’s Title IX Coordinator, Susan Hua.

Lopez said the interview was “more of an interrogation,” and during it, Hua compared student attendance at the Ronald Reagan Library to attendance at a KKK rally at least three times.

“She was trying to get me to say that my students had a legitimate right to feel offended,” Lopez said. “She said ‘What if you were a student and someone provided you with two options of conferences to attend and you chose one, but when you got there you realized you were at a KKK rally?’”

In his defense, Lopez wrote, “because I did not warn women and gays not to attend the conference, I caused them to come unprepared for dangerous ideas. In other words, the students allege the conference was sufficiently discriminatory against gays that they would have needed trigger warnings before going.”

Lopez has submitted numerous amicus briefs to courts across the country during gay marriage lawsuits in order to defend a child’s right to be raised by a mother and a father. Raised by two lesbians himself, Lopez seeks to articulate that following the legalization of gay marriage, a separate class of the children of gay parents would be created.

“Simply due to the fact that I was raised by a lesbian couple means that I don’t have a certain freedom of speech,” Lopez told The Fix. “If you don’t follow the script of LGBT advocates, they attack you because they legitimately fear that those of us who had negative experiences growing up this way will tell our stories.”

Lopez said he believes the complaint at CSUN is being driven by the influence of a larger, well-organized network of LGBT activists across the nation.

Lopez said he is on the “exporters of hate” list which the Human Rights Campaign propagates. The largest LBGT group in the world, this campaign has been actively fighting not only for gay marriage, but also for surrogacy and sperm donation so that gay couples can have children biologically related to one of the parents.

One of the presenters at the family rights conference, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, said in a statement emailed to The College Fix that “I think he [Professor Lopez] has been treated shamefully. This is an example of the full-on suppression of voices that dissent from the Sexual Revolutionary Orthodoxy.”

CSUN officials have a different take.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Yi Li told The College Fix via email that, “We take issue with the accuracy of the allegations currently circulating relating to this investigation, but as this is a confidential personnel matter that involves confidential student information, we cannot discuss or disclose the details. However, we can share our core principles.”

“We have a long history of welcoming a diversity of perspectives and championing free thought and discourse within our academic environment, while ensuring that this environment is free from discrimination, harassment and retaliation.”

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About the Author
Kate Hardiman -- University of Notre Dame