The Virginia-based sociology and criminal justice professor who last week called for the “destigmatizing” of pedophilia has been placed on administrative leave.
Administrators at Old Dominion University in Norfolk pulled Dr. Allyn Walker from the classroom after the instructor faced intense backlash for defending people who are sexually attracted to minors, arguing they should be called “minor-attracted persons,” or “MAPs,” rather than pedophiles.
Walker, who identifies as “queer” and “nonbinary trans” and uses the pronouns “they” and “them,” said during an interview with the Prostasia Foundation that it is “never OK to abuse a child” but suggested there is no moral issue with an adult feeling sexually attracted to children.
The interview centered on the professor’s new book, “A Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity,” in which the ODU faculty member addresses “widespread assumptions that persons who are preferentially attracted to minors — often referred to as ‘pedophiles’ — are necessarily predators and sex offenders.”
ODU released a statement Tuesday, announcing Walker had been placed on leave:
Old Dominion University has placed Dr. Allyn Walker on administrative leave, effective immediately, from their position as assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice.
Reactions to Dr. Walker’s research and book have led to concerns for their safety and that of the campus. Furthermore, the controversy over Dr. Walker’s research has disrupted the campus and community environment and is interfering with the institution’s mission of teaching and learning
“I want to state in the strongest terms possible that child sexual abuse is morally wrong and has no place in our society,” added ODU President Brian Hemphill. “This is a challenging time for our university, but I am confident that we will come together and move forward.”
Additionally, the university’s Transgender Student Advisory Board, which focuses on fostering “a trans-affirming campus community that embraces the gender diversity of its members,” released a statement condemning Walker’s “misappropriation of queer experiences” in “A Long Dark Shadow” by lumping pedophilia in with other sexual “identities.”
According to WTKR-TV, the group stated, in part:
In a recent interview regarding their book that seeks to dignify and de-stigmatize pedophilia, Walker stated “That stigma itself can lead to harm.” The stigma Walker is referring to is that which exists against people who self-identify as “minor-attracted persons” but within society-at-large are regarded as pedophiles. As(t*)erisk vehemently rejects the use of the former term/”identity” and will instead use the latter as it has been defined in the Oxford Dictionary to denote specifically “a person who is sexually attracted to children”. Walker’s choice to use the former in their work and appropriate exclusively queer experiences to further contextualize their argument is reprehensible.
Walker’s misappropriation of exclusively queer experiences in their book has reignited the ignorant assumption of LGBTQIA+ individuals as sexual deviants and unfounded association with pedophilia.
During the now-infamous interview, Walker said: “From my perspective, there’s no morality or immorality attached to attraction to anyone, because no one can control who they’re attracted to at all. In other words, it’s not who we’re attracted to that’s either OK or not OK. It’s our behaviors in responding to that attraction that are either OK or not OK.”
“I want to be extremely clear,” the professor added, “that child sexual abuse is never, ever OK. But having an attraction to minors, as long as it isn’t acted on, doesn’t mean the person who has those attractions is doing something wrong.”
Content warning: The subject matter of the below video may disturb some viewers
Over the weekend, Walker tried to clarify the comments made in the Prostasia interview.
“I want to be clear,” the professor said in a statement released by ODU. “Child sexual abuse is morally wrong and inexcusable crime. As an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, the goal of my research is to prevent crime.”
The damage, though, may already be done. Some students told WTKR they are bothered by Walker’s views.
“Honestly, it just sounds gross,” said ODU student Jaelan Jackson. “Just because you’re not acting on it, to acknowledge it is weird and not OK at all. It feels uncomfortable to know that someone’s like that on campus.”
Another student, Jonathan Mukmuye, added, “I don’t think it reflects poorly on the school, but I do think it’s weird that we have a professor that would think that.”
“I think it more has to say about the individual … instead of the university,” said student Nick Fehrer.
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