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Academy stands by controversial 'ex-gay' official

Dec. 20, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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The Air Force Academy’s superintendent said Friday that the academy will not fire or transfer a controversial senior official who drew criticism in November for his extensive history of work with organizations that seek to change gays’ and lesbians’ sexual orientations.

The academy reviewed the 2009 hiring of Mike Rosebush, an operations research analyst for its Center for Character and Leadership Development. Rosebush published a book that same year that offers ways for gay Christian men to “achieve sexual purity, peace and heterosexual confidence,” according to the summary on Amazon.com. Rosebush has also worked with Exodus International, a now-defunct ex-gay ministry; the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, which advocates for therapies that seek to change people’s sexual orientation; and Focus on the Family, a Christian organization that advocates against same-sex marriage.

Gay and lesbian organizations blasted the academy in November after news of Rosebush’s ongoing employment emerged, with some calling for Rosebush to be fired. Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, the academy’s superintendent, said at the time that the school knew of no complaints against Rosebush and that Rosebush had performed his duties effectively. But she ordered a review to examine his hiring, and to make sure no complaints against him had been missed.

“We have found that at no time did Dr. Rosebush’s personal beliefs influence any professional decision or action taken in his position at the academy,” Johnson said in a Dec. 20 statement. “Further, we found that there have been no complaints about his conduct or professionalism. Therefore, there is no legal basis for either his removal or transfer and Dr. Rosebush will be retained in his current position.”

However, Johnson said the academy’s environment is still not welcoming to all.

“It is clear that we still have work to do in creating an academy culture that respects the views of all and encourages diversity,” Johnson said. “My response to this challenge is to continue to reinforce and foster a culture of dignity, respect and inclusion for all.”

Johnson said she plans to establish a leadership position that will focus on culture and climate issues. That official will be tasked with eliminating “negative sub-cultures and illegal activities and sexual assault.” The statement did not specify which negative sub-cultures or illegal activities have concerned Johnson.

Johnson also has ordered the academy to host a series of panel discussions for cadets “to help us create a better culture and climate transformation.”

“As we develop lieutenants prepared to lead in our Air Force and in our nation, it is critical that we have a safe, non-threatening environment for every airman — cadet, faculty and staff — regardless of sex, race, origin, orientation, ethnicity, language, culture or life experiences,” Johnson said.

The American Military Partner Association — which advocates for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender spouses of military service members and their families and last month condemned the academy’s hiring of Rosebush — said Rosebush’s continued presence on campus could undermine Johnson’s desire to improve respect and diversity at the academy.

“We applaud Lt. Gen. Johnson’s commitment to creating an inclusive command climate at the academy,” AMPA President Stephen Peters said in a statement. “However, it’s important to note that Dr. Rosebush’s anti-inclusive viewpoints and pseudoscience beliefs will be a threat to building and maintaining that inclusive environment.”

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