An assistant professor of Sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion University has been placed on administrative leave.
Old Dominion placed Dr. Allyn Walker on administrative leave effective immediately. Walker is a transgender individual also.
“Reactions to Dr. Walker’s research and book have led to concerns for their safety and that of the campus,” the statement said. “Furthermore, the controversy of Dr. Walker’s research has disrupted the campus and community environment and is interfering with the institution’s mission of teaching and learning.”
Walker wrote a book called “A Long Dark Shadow: Minor Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity.” It is a study of “minor-attracted” persons who have not committed any offense.
Walker said in an interview she used the term “minor-attracted person” or MAP for a few reasons. One, because she said it is important to use terminology for groups that members of that group want others to use for them.
“A lot of people when they hear the term pedophile, they automatically assume that it means a sex offender,” Walker said. “And that isn’t true. And it leads to a lot of misconceptions about attractions toward minors.”
She went on to claim using a term that communicates who someone is attracted to does not indicate “anything about the morality of that attraction.”
“From my perspective, there is no morality or immorality attached to attraction to anyone because no one can control who they’re attracted to at all,” she said. “It’s not who we’re attracted to that’s either OK or not OK. It’s our behaviors and responding to that attraction that are either OK or not OK.”
Walker said child sexual abuse is never OK.
“But having an attraction to minors as long as it isn’t acted on, doesn’t mean that the person who has those attractions is doing something wrong,” she said. “When we’re talking about non-offending MAPS, these are people who have an attraction that they didn’t ask for. And one that frequently they would do anything to change. But they find that they’re unable to change those attractions. And most importantly, the people in my study did not act on them.”
Whether attraction to minors is a type of sexual orientation cannot be answered with his type of research, she added.
Non-offending MAPS’ behaviors are moral, Walker said.
“But they’re still being subjected to this same idea that they’re bad people and they’ve often internalized that for themselves,” she said.
Pedophile, Walker said, doesn’t refer to someone who has committed a sexual offense. Instead, it refers to an attraction.
“‘Pedophilia’ is a clinical term that indicates a sexual attraction to people who have not gone through puberty,” Walker said. “MAP refers to someone who has preferential attractions to minors, and that can include children who have gone through puberty or not.”
Walker admits that child sex abusers are people who have committed a sexual offense against a child and that many of them are MAPs.
“But first of all, there are many people who commit sexual offenses against a minor who are not attracted to children in general,” she said. “Many MAPs never commit a sexual offense against a minor.”
Interestingly, Walker said that while she is not a MAP herself, she is queer.
“So I too, have been through experiences and realized that I have attractions many people wouldn’t understand, and that some people find to be immoral,” she said. “And so I sort of empathize with those experiences, and I wanted to learn more.”
Walker claims that stigma against MAPs is a problem because it makes people attracted to children think they’re monsters.
“When MAPs get the impression that they’re destined to commit an offense against a child, they might not realize that it’s a choice that they have,” she said.
For its part, Old Dominion President Brian Hemphill said child sexual abuse is morally wrong and “has no place in our society.”