FAU Provost Apologizes After ‘Equating Being LGBT’ to ‘Having Sex With Animals’
Florida Atlantic University’s interim provost apologized after joking about “sex with animals” during a university senate meeting. The meeting responded to the DeSantis administration’s request that state universities turn over data relating to their DEI initiatives and transgender medical service. While trying to alleviate student and faculty concerns about the record request, provost Michele Hawkins steered the meeting off-course
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“In a comment that was intended to emphasize her acceptance of any and all individuals, she inadvertently invoked language that did not convey her beliefs,” a spokesman for FAU wrote in an email published by Inside Higher Ed. “Upon further reflection following the meeting’s conclusion, she better understood how her comment was received and that she had misspoken. She deeply regrets her choice of words.”
According to Inside Higher Ed, a video of the senate meeting showed faculty debating the record request. One professor, Allan Barsky, proposed resistance to the Florida Department of Education. He told Hawkins that people were concerned about the confidentiality of records being turned over to the department.
“I think what some people felt, despite the intent, is that they were thrown under the bus, Barsky reportedly said in the video. “We had some of the most vulnerable people who were listed—I know it’s not the intent at all—but some of the people who were listed were assistant professors or adjuncts or whomever, and also, you know, people who are Black, people who are LGBT, so it kind of felt like some people were being targeted for this.”
Hawkins attempted to reassure the university senate but shot herself in the foot.
“We did not do that. We did not know what color—if they were purple, if they had sex with animals. I mean, we had no, no idea of what we were doing. We did not put anyone under the bus.”
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Hawkins’ comments raised some eyebrows.
“Please don’t equate being LGBT with having sex with animals,” Barsky replied.
“Oh, are you kidding, Allan?” Hawkins retorted.
“No, I am not kidding,” Barsky said.
Hawkins desperately tried to salvage the situation. After briefly going back and forth with Barsky, she attempts to restate her support LGBT community,
“In fact, I doubt that they do have sex with animals. I don’t know, not many people do.”
After facing backlash over the exchange, Hawkins and the university quickly issued statements apologizing.
“Dr. Hawkins’s choice of words was unfortunate, but she did not intend to say something negative about LGBTQ people,” Barsky said, defending the interim provost in an interview with Inside Higher Ed. “She is a strong proponent of respect, social justice, and DEI. Her apology was a brave response.”
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Students and faculty at several universities have attempted to fight the DeSantis administration on their records requests, including several demonstrations and walkouts to protest the decision. As of Thursday, six of the twelve public universities petitioned have turned over the required documents.
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