Last week, we noted that Family Research Council executive vice president Jerry Boykin announced that he had been fired from a teaching position he held at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. Boykin asserted that he had lost his job because of comments he had made earlier in the year at a Religious Right conference where he had voiced his opposition to transgender protection efforts by declaring that “the first man that walks in my daughter’s bathroom, he ain’t going to have to worry about surgery.”
Boykin, a notoriously anti-gay and anti-Muslim right-wing activist, claimed that he was only joking but that the “LGBT community once again came after me” and pressured “the college leadership to terminate me and they did.”
Predictably, the incident became a rallying cry for the likes of Ted Cruz, who used it to fundraise for his own Senate re-election bid, and Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, who wrote a column decrying the upposed persecution of Boykin.
Thanks to the outcry from Christian conservatives, Hampden-Sydney backed down and rehired Boykin, who called it “a victory for academic freedom and free thought on a college campus.”
Interestingly, Andrew Beaujon of The Washingtonian reported today that the entire story of Boykin’s alleged firing was apparently an utter misrepresentation of what actually took place and was seemingly whipped up for the purpose of browbeating the college into re-hiring Boykin.
According to Hampden-Sydney College, the position held by Boykin “was created to be a rotating position, allowing Hampden-Sydney to bring distinguished individuals from a wide variety of professional backgrounds to the campus.”
The decision not to renew Boykin’s contract had reportedly been made back in March, well before concerns had even been raised about his “jokingly” violent remarks:
If the “LGBT community” indeed went after Boykin, its campaign was remarkably incompetent. Asked about the existence of such an effort, Hampden-Sydney spokesperson Tommy Shomo says, “There was a letter from Hampden-Sydney constituents expressing concerns over some of Gen. Boykin’s public remarks, recent and past, and questioning his association with the College.” Shomo says the letter was received in April, after the college had already decided, in March, not to renew.
But thanks to the outrage generated by the false narrative created by Boykin, Cruz, Starnes and other Religious Right activists, Hampden-Sydney College was forced to back down and rehire Boykin for one more year:
After discussions with Hampden-Sydney College, Gen. Jerry Boykin has accepted another year’s contract to teach in the College’s Military Leadership and National Security minor as Wheat Professor. Boykin stated, he “loves the college and its students and would be honored to teach for another year.”
Interim President Dennis Stevens said he was pleased that General Boykin will be with Hampden-Sydney for one more year.
At the end of the 2016-2017 academic year, the College will continue with its plan to restore the Wheat Professorship to short-term appointments in order to bring multiple perspectives on leadership to its students.
None of this should come as a surprise, since constantly alleging that he’s been the victim of anti-Christian persecution has been a hallmark of Boykin’s career.