Margaret DeWeese-Boyd

Margaret DeWeese-Boyd

WENHAM — An associate professor at Gordon College has taken her discrimination complaint, against the college, to court.

Margaret DeWeese-Boyd, a tenured associate professor in the department of sociology and social work who lives in Georgetown, filed a complaint in Essex Superior Court on Wednesday claiming she was denied a promotion for speaking out against the college's LGBTQ policies.

DeWeese-Boyd said Gordon College President Michael Lindsay and Provost Janel Curry denied her a promotion in retaliation for her "vocal opposition" to the private Christian school's policy against "homosexual practice."

She also claimed the college discriminated against her because of her gender. She said male professors who have spoken out against the school have not been penalized as severely.

DeWeese-Boyd, a professor at Gordon College since 1999, filed a complaint against the school with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in March. She has withdrawn that complaint and moved it to court, according to a press release from Fair Work P.C., a Boston law firm that is representing her.

According to the court complaint, DeWeese-Boyd was denied a promotion despite receiving the unanimous recommendation of the faculty senate. Her attorney, Hillary Schwab, called the denial a "blatant attempt by the president and provost to silence her advocacy on LGBTQ+ issues and to send a message to other members of the faculty that they will be punished for challenging Gordon College's discriminatory policies."

In a statement, Gordon College spokesman Rick Sweeney called DeWeese-Boyd's allegations "baseless."

Sweeney said the college recently had a day-long mediation with DeWeese-Boyd in an effort to resolve their differences without going to court, but the effort was unsuccessful. 

He said DeWeese-Boyd's "real reason" behind the lawsuit is "not to address her most recent performance evaluation but to harm the college, with little regard for its impact on her faculty and staff colleagues and Gordon students."

"Frankly, we find it offensive that she would suggest she was evaluated unfairly or claim the process lacked integrity," Sweeney said.

In the court complaint, DeWeese-Boyd said she has been one of the most outspoken critics of Gordon's LGBTQ policies, including circulating petitions, organizing events, and addressing Lindsay and other administrators directly on the issue.

The court complaint seeks damages for lost pay and benefits and emotional distress, as well as an injunction ordering the college to cease unlawful discrimination and retaliation.

Last year, Gordon College associate philosophy professor Lauren Barthold filed a civil rights suit accusing college officials of demoting her and threatening to fire her for speaking out against the LGBTQ policy. She eventually agreed to a confidential settlement and resigned. 

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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