An all-male college in Virginia has reversed its decision to fire a prominent retired U.S. Army general hours after reports that he was removed over political correctness provoked outcry.
Hampden-Sydney College decided to offer Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin a one-year contract, walking back its decision to fire Boykin after he made controversial comments about transgender bathrooms that angered LGBT activists.
Fox News first reported Thursday that Boykin, an original member of the Delta Force who served as undersecretary of defense for intelligence under President George W. Bush, had been fired after nine years of teaching at the school after criticizing transgender bathrooms.
"The first man who goes into the restroom with my daughter will not have to worry about surgery," Boykin said of the debate surrounding transgender bathroom rules during a speech to conservatives in March.
The comments angered LGBT activists, dozens of whom signed a letter demanding the college fire him. They accused him of calling for violence against transgenders, he said.
"I never said homosexuals. I never said transgenders," he told Fox. "I was really talking about these perverts who would use this as a way to get into the bathrooms with our wives and daughters."
He said he was fired without warning and without being afforded the opportunity to defend himself. A representative for the college told Fox that his contract was "simply not renewed" and denied that the comments about transgender bathrooms were the "determining factor" in his firing. The representative did, however, expressed concern that the statement "appeared to advocate or approve of violence."
Boykin received an outpouring of support, including from Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), a one-time presidential candidate.
"Hampden-Sydney College has fired General Boykin. At a time where young people are desperately seeking hope and inspiration, you would think General Boykin (who had taught there nine years) would be one of their most valued faculty. But instead, he fell victim to the PC police," Cruz wrote in a Facebook post.
In a reversal, the school wrote in a statement Thursday that Boykin had accepted a one-year contract "after discussions." Boykin celebrated the announcement, characterizing the incident as a reminder of how First Amendment principles "are worth standing up for and defending."
"My reinstatement is a victory for academic freedom and free thought on a college campus. The free exchange of conflicting ideas must be the bedrock of every college campus in America," Boykin wrote on Facebook. "This essential exchange has been greatly wounded by the PC police, but it can be restored to college campuses around the country if, in unity, freedom-loving Americans speak out."
He also thanked supporters of his cause and the leadership at Hampden-Sydney College.
Boykin served nearly 40 years in the U.S. Army, a career that included serving as commander of the service’s elite Green Berets. He currently serves as executive vice president of the Family Research Council.