A free speech dispute has erupted after a Pennsylvania lawmaker demanded that three speakers be canceled from a college event for stating anti-transgender views.
State Rep. La’Tasha Mayes expressed concern about an event at the University of Pittsburgh that will provide a platform for swimmer Riley Gaines, who was defeated by trans athlete Lia Thomas last year, journalist Cabot Phillips and political commentator Michael Knowles.
Critics interpreted Mayes’s comments as a thinly veiled threat to defund the university if it did not comply.
More than 11,000 students at the university have signed a petition demanding that appearances by Gaines, Phillips and Knowles be cancelled.
The petition called the speakers an “attack on trans bodies and humanity.”
State Rep. La’Tasha Mayes expressed concern about upcoming events at the University of Pittsburgh that will provide a platform for speakers who hold allegedly anti-transgender views.
During a tense funding hearing for the university, Mayes said: “It has come to my attention that three speakers who have crossed the line of free speech and become hate speech directed at transgender students and the transgender community , will come to campus starting this Friday.
‘One of them essentially says that transgender people must be eradicated.
‘Chancellor, you are allowing them onto campus. How does this keep transgender people safe?
‘How does this keep LGBTQ+ students safe at my Alma Mater and how does this align with the values of the University of Pittsburgh and its commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity?’
Gaines, 23, has repeatedly spoken out about including trans women in sports after Lia Thomas defeated her during the NCAA championships last year. She appeared at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
Thomas had spent three years competing as a men’s swimmer before transitioning his senior year only to break records as a woman.
Gaines objected not only to the unfair advantage of Thomas, who had been born a man, but also claimed that it made her uncomfortable in the locker room.
Cancelled: The University of Pittsburgh is under pressure to cancel an appearance by Riley Gaines, who has repeatedly spoken out about transgender women competing in sports.
Gaines, 23, has repeatedly spoken out about including trans women in sports after Lia Thomas defeated her during the NCAA championships last year.
‘You have someone with male genitalia pulling down their pants, watching you undress. It baffles you,” she said at the time.
Meanwhile, Philips is an editor and podcaster for the right-wing news site Daily Wire and Knowles is a political commentator who recently said that the presence of transgender people “shocks” children.
The trio are due to speak at a Turning Point USA event on the college campus.
Foreign Secretary Patrick Gallagher appeared to reject calls by Mayes to cancel the stars’ appearance, saying he was “obliged” to support free speech.
“We fully support all of our students, including our trans and gender non-conforming students who have a lot of concerns about this,” she told the hearing. meter
“We understand the concerns and agree that much of the rhetoric that is happening nationally and potentially happening on campus is hugely problematic for them.
‘The other problem is that the university is a place of dialogue. I am obligated to support both constitutional and academic free speech.
He added: ‘We will do our best to navigate this very difficult scenario.
“The only thing that makes this a big challenge is that there’s a tendency to want to define what the university stands for by who gets to speak on campus, and therein lies a problem.”
After listening to him, Mayes repeated his request to remove the speaker’s platform.
“I echo my call for the speakers coming to campus to be cancelled,” he said.
The campaign body Speech First strongly criticized Mayes, believing that he was threatening to defund the university if he did not comply with his request.
Cabot Philips, left, is an editor and podcast host for the right-wing news site Daily Wire and Michael Knowles, right, is a political commentator who recently said the presence of transgender people “shocks” children.
He also accused the Democrat of misrepresenting a statement made by Michael Knowles calling for the eradication of “transgenderism.”
But Mayes told the hearing that he wanted to eradicate transgender people.
Speech First executive director Cherise Trump said: “Lawmakers should not use veiled threats to withhold funding from colleges simply because they don’t like a person who was invited to speak.”
“By twisting Michael Knowles’ comments to fit his narrative and inciting outrage, Mayes is deliberately exacerbating a problem that simply doesn’t exist.”
She added: ‘Mayes’ attempts to bully a university into submission is an abuse of power.
“We will not be intimidated, there will be consequences for censorship, and that starts with holding lawmakers and administrators accountable for their actions.”
WhatsNew2Day.com has contacted Mayes and the University of Pittsburgh.