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Instructor says BYU-Idaho fired her for a Facebook post

SALT LAKE CITY — A 22-year-old political science instructor said Brigham Young University-Idaho has terminated her teaching contract over a Facebook post that questioned the LGBT policy of the LDS Church.

Ruthie Robertson said she kept her views out of her classroom, but on June 5, she made an "official announcement and declaration" that homosexuality is natural and not sinful in a private Facebook post in support of Pride Month.

A Facebook friend reported the post to the chair of the political science department, Robertson said, and after several meetings with administrators, she was told she would be allowed to continue to teach through the end of the spring term, which ended Tuesday but not beyond.

Officials at BYU-Idaho, a private university owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said Tuesday they do not comment on personnel matters. The school's adjunct faculty policy is password-protected online.

Robertson said her students couldn't see her post.

"No one in the Church Educational System should be teaching things that oppose church doctrine or church policy," she said. "If it's taught in the classroom, yes, it's wrong. But if it's outside the classroom in a private Facebook post and had no way of reaching my students, why is it wrong? I don't think they had the right to do it, but they said the contract allowed them to do it."

BYU-Idaho renews adjunct faculty contracts on an annual basis. Robertson taught online courses during Winter term, beginning in January. She was under contract to teach again during fall semester, she said, and had been told her contract would be renewed for 2018.

She said no other issues were raised in her meetings with university officials.

"It was just this post," she said. "I know the woman who reported me to my department head already had some issues with my feminist posts. There had never been anything in my classroom that had been controversial. I kept the church out of my classroom as much as possible because I didn't want my personal views of doctrine and policy confused with fact."

Robertson graduated from BYU-Idaho in April 2016 with a degree in political science with an emphasis in foreign affairs and a minor in history. She said she was the first student allowed to teach Introduction to International Relations for internship credit.