RICHARDSON, Texas — University of Texas at Dallas officials are investigating a professor who tweeted about asking for a "cure for homosexuality" and called homosexuality a "medical disorder," the university said in a statement Monday morning.
The university "received several complaints related to a statement by a UT Dallas faculty member," the statement said.
School officials were "in the process of reviewing and investigating these complaints."
UT Dallas, located in Richardson, has about 30,000 students and is part of the statewide UT system.
A statement from the university's Rainbow Coalition - which includes and represents LGBTQ+ student groups, including Pride at UTD and oSTEM - identified the professor as Timothy P. Farage, a professor in the Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.
The Rainbow Coalition statement said Farage "has a long, well-documented history of hostility on LGBTQ+ issues."
"While this most recent post is a striking example example of homophobia and misinformation, it only exemplifies a portion of the hostility experienced by LGBTQ+ students in his classroom," they say.
The Rainbow Coalition called on UT Dallas officials "to take immediate, substantive action on this issue."
According to the campus' student-run newspaper, "The Mercury," Farage last week posted an article about a monkeypox outbreak in New York City. He went on to ask if it was possible to "find a cure for homosexuality."
Twitter later took down the tweet for violating rules, but The Mercury, which posted a screenshot of Farage's tweet, said the professor's replies to responders were still visible, and Farage defended his comments in subsequent tweets.
Farage spoke with WFAA and continued to defend his statement and said he doesn't believe homosexuality is a sin.
"I have nothing against homosexuals. I just was suggesting we try to find a cure," he said.
Farage told WFAA he sent the initial tweet because he read an article that said monkeypox is "mainly spread by men who have sex with other men."
To be clear: anyone can contract monkeypox, which is not a sexually transmitted disease.
"There's nothing about being gay or having sex with men that uniquely causes monkeypox," said Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.
Instead, Dr. Huang told WFAA that infections are linked to particular events and festivals where the virus spreads in close contact.
Farage told WFAA that he doesn't feel his beliefs are homophobic but suggested that doctors explore testing fetuses for homosexuality in the womb.
"That is not... possible," Huang said.
It's been nearly 50 years since the American Psychiatric Association recognized homosexuality is not a disease.
Student and Pride at UTD member Chase Mueller believes Farage needs to be fired and said Farage's comments create a lack of safety for LGBTQ+ students.
"(Students) feel uncomfortable, they feel unsafe being themselves in a lot of those spaces. So allowing this professor to voice these opinions both in and out of class, share them with his students is only further promoting that," said Mueller. "And UTD, being a school that so highly values its LGBT rankings, being ranked one of the best schools for LGBT students, I think it's not at all beneficial to them or to their students to promote this kind of environment."
While UT Dallas officials investigate Farage's comments, they said the Jonsson School "is opening up additional sections of the fall classes taught by [Farage] to include at least one other professor to provide more options for students."
"This will help our students remain on track to complete their degree while learning in a safe environment," the university statement said. "While we will not comment further pending the outcome of our investigations, we wish to reiterate that we take this matter seriously and that the statements by this individual do not reflect the core values of our institution."
"A lot of what they've been saying is, 'We've heard about a tweet from a professor.' But this is a lot more. This tweet has shown that students know he has a pattern of behavior in the classroom that makes people uncomfortable. That has been reported for years," Mueller said. "And this is just a big point in time where because of the tweet because of the current climate around LGBTQ+ hate. We can show all of this and say, 'No, we are not going to let this continue happening.'"
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