By Lenore Hellman
Gallaudet University’s Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Angela McCaskill, has been placed on paid administrative leave, according to President Hurwitz’s campus-wide email. This decision is made after a community member found McCaskill’s alleged signature in a petition to bring a same-sex marriage bill to a public vote in Maryland this November.
On February 17, 2012, the Maryland legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill called the Civil Marriage Protection Act. This comes after a similar same-sex marriage bill failed the previous year. Governor Marvin O’Malley signed the bill into law on March 1, 2012, and it was to take effect on January 1, 2013.
Opponents of the new law mounted a campaign to have the matter go to a referendum in November. The full petition, with 110,000 signatures, was published by the Washington Blade in August.
Dr. Angela McCaskill is the “first deaf African American female” to receive a Ph.D. at Gallaudet University, which is public information found on her Gallaudet faculty page. She now holds the office of Deputy to the President and Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, a new position to Gallaudet’s executives.
A Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) is often tasked with nurturing diversity inside an educational institution by leading change and working with all types of people. Among the diversity, her job includes the task of welcoming the LGBTQ community into Gallaudet University for a rich diverse group.
Buried in the long petition is Dr. Angela McCaskill’s signature. According to Planet Deaf Queer, a faculty member noticed the signature and met with McCaskill about it. McCaskill “explained that she had done so while at church, after her preacher had preached against gay marriage.” On the way out, she signed the petition after her husband pointed it out.
Dr. Angela McCaskill has long been an advocate for the diverse student population in Gallaudet. These findings of her signature on a petition have caused considerable reaction among students and faculty. Students have planned for a meeting on October 10th; however, the meeting has been postponed to a later date with select student organizations and representatives. In addition, the Diversity and Inclusion advisory board will hold a meeting about these recent events on Thursday, October 11th.