Calvin College’s Discrimination

Mark Lance writes:

As readers of this blog probably know, there was an extended debate on the Lieter site about a year ago regarding schools that discriminate against LGBTQ folks advertising with the APA. This resulted in a clarification of the APA anti-discrimination policy. (See herefor background.) Now Calvin College is the first to explicitly reject the new policy and announce it’s intention to continue discriminating in hiring. Todd May of Clemson university and I have drafted an open letter that is being circulated. It has been mentioned already on InsideHigherEd and will be sent to the Proceedings of the APA. If you would like to be added as a signatory, contact Mark Lance at

And here is the letter.

Response to Calvin College’s Rejection of APA Statement on Non-discrimination

We, the undersigned, note with concern Calvin College’s decision to reject the APA’s clarification of its non-discrimination statement to include “gender identification”. In doing so, Calvin College enjoys the dubious honor of being the first institution identified by the APA in its new policy of flagging those institutions that refuse to honor the non-discrimination statement.

One might puzzle over a form of Christianity that is committed to the inequality of people, and in particular of job applicants for positions in philosophy. More disturbing, however, is the stigma Calvin College feels entitled to place upon those who are doubly exposed: as lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgendered in a society that has yet to accept them, and as people seeking jobs during difficult economic times.

Obtaining academic positions in philosophy is never an easy task; doing so in the face of the current economic climate is nothing less than traumatic. That Calvin College would engage in a most egregious form of discrimination under these circumstances strikes us as not only deplorable but indeed as displaying a lack of basic human concern.

We live in a world in which it is legal in most states to fire someone simply for being, or appearing to be, gay or lesbian; in which sexual minorities are denied visitation rights to dying life-partners; and in which loving, same-sex couples are denied the right to adopt. In this environment, the decision by Calvin College to align itself with those who seek to deny human dignity and equality to their fellow citizens and our fellow philosophers is an injury that we must resist.

We urge all those in the philosophical community, regardless of their sexual or gender identification, to write to Calvin College, see below, to express their dismay at this lack of decency, and, if so moved, to contribute to the groups listed in the Grand Rapids LGBT network.

It is imperative for us, as philosophers, coming as we do from a tradition that seeks to understand and promote truth and justice, to resist those who would betray both the most significant values of our profession and the most vulnerable members of it.

Contact information for Calvin College:

Contact information:

Calvin College

Office of the President

3201 Burton Street, SE

Grand Rapids, MI


(616) 526-6100

(616) 526-6577 Fax

Department of Philosophy

1845 Knollcrest Circle SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Phone: 616.526.6488

Fax: 616.526.8505

Del Ratzsch

Professor, Department Chair