Transgender Professor Fights to Keep Job at Christian College

The professor said he has received an "overwhelming amount of support"

A professor who has taught theology for 15 years at a Christian college in Southern California is fighting to keep his job after coming out as transgender to university officials.

Azusa Pacific University Professor Heather Ann Clements started referring to himself as H. Adam Ackley at the beginning of the semester to go along with his slowly evolving masculine appearance.

When the professor formally asked the private school in Azusa, 26 miles northeast of Los Angeles, to recognize his name and gender change, the university immediately asked him to step down from his position. Ackley's lawyer said he did not violate any school policies.

"He has not broken any university code," attorney Paul Southwick said. "There are no rules that prohibit gender transition. The only code they have is homosexual conduct, but Adam has not conducted in homosexual conduct."

According to Southwick, the professor and university are in confidential negotiations to allow Ackley to stay at least through the remainder of the semester.

"University leadership is engaged in thoughtful conversations with our faculty member in order to honor the contribution and treat all parties with dignity and respect while upholding the values of the university," the university said in a statement to NBC4. "It is an ongoing conversation, and therefore, a confidential matter."

Ackley, who was once the school's chair of theology and philosophy, said he has received an "overwhelming amount of support" from students and colleagues, as well as on social media, since his story came to light.

"It's really the higher-level administrators motivated by more conservative-minded donors, parents of students and churches affiliated with the university," Southwick said.

Southwick said he hopes both parties will resolve the matter without heading to court.

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