An assistant professor at the University of Virginia has agreed to resign after facing intense backlash, arguing that it was not immoral for adults to be sexually attracted to children.
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Old Dominion University disclosed in a statement On Wednesday, 34-year-old Elin Walker will step down as an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice.
Walker was placed on administrative leave on November 16 after a firestorm erupted over the teacher’s controversial argument that pedophiles should be referred to as a “minor-attracted person.”
Assistant professors, who are transgender and use pronouns, will be on leave until their contract expires in May next year.
The university was facing calls to remove Walker after the teacher made the comment earlier this month while discussing her research in an interview with the San Francisco-based child protection organization Prosthesia Foundation.
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Walker stressed that it is important to use the term “moderately-attractive person” instead of “pedophile” because it is less stigmatizing.
However, critics argued that Walker’s terminology perpetuated sex offenders.
An online petition demanding Walker’s removal had garnered more than 14,000 signatures as of Wednesday.
In the statement announcing Walker’s resignation, the assistant professor stressed that the aim of the research was to prevent child sexual abuse and to better understand who would be sex offenders.
“That research was misrepresented by some in the media and online, partly on the basis of my trans identity,” Walker said. “As a result, several threats were made against me and the campus community in general.”
The president of the university, Brian O. Hemphill described Walker’s resignation as “the best way forward”.
Walker, who wrote the book “A Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity”, previously acknowledged that the use of the term “minor-attracted person” suggests to some that it is okay to be attracted. . Children.
But he said that labeling anyone solely by their sexual desires reflects nothing about their morality.
“From my point of view, there is no morality or immorality associated with attraction to someone because no one can control who they are attracted to,” Walker said.
“In other words, it’s not what we’re attracted to that is either okay or not right. It’s our behavior in reacting to an attraction that’s either okay or not.”
Walker said that while child sexual abuse is “never, ever okay,” it is not wrong to have sexual urges toward children—as long as those carnal desires are not acted upon.