Florida Reverend Causes Strike at New York Seminary Over Racism and "I Love Vaginas"

The General Theological Seminary in New York is the nation's oldest training grounds for Episcopalians. It's been going strong in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan since 1817. That is, until a year ago, when it hired Florida Rev. Kurt Dunkle as its new dean.

Eight out of ten of the teachers at GTS were fired on Monday for going on strike against Dunkle for offensive remarks he allegedly made, which they said created an unbearable work environment. The AP reports that Dunkle, who is from Orange Park, Florida, near Jacksonville, told a female faculty member that he "loved vaginas."

Other examples are blatantly racist. For instance, the same news agency reports that he called Asians "slanty-eyed" and quipped that "black people could do such interesting things with their hair." For good measure, he threw in some homophobic statements as well, saying that lest they become a "gay seminary," GTS should focus on "normal people."

"We have consistently communicated to him that such language undercuts our practices of hospitality and inclusion of those who are gay and lesbian, people of color, those who are differently-abled, or socially non-conformist," the eight fired professors posted in a cowritten letter online.

"When we have brought these matters to his attention, he often denies having made the statements despite the existence of numerous witnesses, and he refuses to acknowledge the impact his actions have on others."

Dunkle was baptized in St. Pete and is a graduate of both the University of Florida and its law school. He was appointed rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Orange Park in 2006. Just before his arrival, 965 of the 1,000 members there had left over disagreement with Episcopal policies. (That same year, the Episcopal Church consecrated a gay bishop and gave blessing to same-sex marriage.) But Dunkle was praised for building the church back up.

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Allie Conti was a fellow at Miami New Times and a staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach, where her writing won awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. She's now the senior staff writer at Vice and a contributor to the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Atlantic.