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A lesbian professor at a Catholic university was targeted by a man who handed out photos of her family on campus in an attempt to get her fired.
The man was protesting the employment of Dr. Kelly Wilson, a professor in the theology department at the University of St. Thomas, a private, Roman Catholic university in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn.
The photos distributed by the man, who hasn’t been identified, showed Wilson with her family and children.
But his plan backfired after the university rallied behind Wilson and said it rejected the man’s “hateful message,” KARE 11 reports.
Wilson said that in seven years her sexuality had never “come up” while working at St. Thomas.
“This isn’t new to me that I would get some pushback from some people I just never know or knew it would include a picture of my kids as evidence of why I should be fired,” Wilson said.
She learned of the protest after campus security called her to report the man adding that security was
concerned that “this was the first time he has targeted an individual and used a picture of their family.”
Wilson said that she received support from across the campus, including students, faculty, and leaders.
In a statement, the University of St. Thomas affirmed its support of Wilson and said that the man was banned from the school’s campus.
“This man has a history of criticizing St. Thomas employees. He is not allowed on campus, but we are limited in how we can respond to him when he is on public property. When we found out about this latest incident, we reached out to offer our full support to Dr. Wilson,” they said.
“We also sent a university-wide communication rejecting this man’s hateful message and reaffirming our commitment to an inclusive environment for our LGBTQA+ community members. This is consistent with Catholic teaching, which calls on us to love and care for every person. As Pope Francis reminds us, ‘God has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity.’”
In addition to support from colleagues, Wilson used publicity from the man’s protest to raise funds for Dignity Twin Cities, an LGBTQ Catholic organization.
“I just thought the best way to respond to someone like this is to support those systems that he’s trying to break down,” she said.
Wilson added: “You don’t have pick being gay or Catholic, it’s not either or moments or decisions what it is I believe I am being my authentic self, I believe that is what my church asks me to do what the scriptures ask me to do and what God expects of me, and this is my home is the Catholic Church.”
As well as raising funds. Wilson and a colleague also extended an invitation to Father James Martin — a Jesuit priest, New York Times bestselling author, and advocate for greater LGBTQ outreach by the Church — to come and speak to LGBTQ Catholics at St. Thomas.
Martin accepted, telling KARE 11 that the Church “teaches that LGBT people are to be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”
He also slammed the man who protested Wilson’s employment at a Catholic university, calling it “cruel” to have passed out images of Wilson’s children.
“That is certainly something not part of Catholic teaching, not part of the Christian world and not what Jesus asked us to do,” he said. “Sometimes I like to say that these people are so Catholic, these protestors, that they forget about being Christian.”
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