LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus condemns University of Pittsburgh for hosting transphobic speakers

Calls on university to cancel, expresses safety concerns

PITTSBURGH, March 15 – In response to three events featuring transphobic speakers scheduled to occur on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus, Pennsylvania House LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus co-chairs state Reps. Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny, and Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., are condemning the university and calling for the events to be cancelled.

“I am shocked, appalled and outraged that an institution as prestigious as the University of Pittsburgh is allowing these events to occur on their property and bolstering these hateful individuals,” Benham said. “This is not a free speech issue. Hate speech is not protected speech. This is about the safety of transgender students and recognizing that transgender people exist.

“Giving a podium and university resources to someone like Michael Knowles who has publicly stated his goal is to eradicate ‘transgenderism’ from public life is a direct violation of the university’s commitment to support and protect its transgender community members. Transgender individuals at Pitt are not feeling supported – they are feeling endangered. I am urging the university to step in and cancel the events in the interest of protecting the LGBTQ+ community at Pitt.”

Benham added that she has reached out to the university regarding the speakers but has yet to receive a response.

“By platforming individuals who hate and reject the existence of transgender people, the university is playing a role in helping transphobes spread their message and grow their following. The university is essentially endorsing the idea that transgender people do not and should not exist,” Benham concluded.

“Hate speech and anti-trans rhetoric are becoming more and more frequent. To see it occur, and be essentially authorized, on the campus of a great institution like Pitt, is truly despicable and heartbreaking,” Kenyatta said. “Colleges should be a safe place for students to learn, grow and prepare for their futures, not a place for bigotry and hate. I expect Pitt and all colleges across the commonwealth to do better by their trans students.”