Pitt facing criticism over allowing events some call transphobic on campus

PITTSBURGH — The University of Pittsburgh is facing mounting criticism over allowing three so-called transphobic events to proceed on campus.

The first, Friday night, was met with protestors on campus in the form of a “Rally for Trans Rights” outside the Cathedral of Learning.

It was an outpouring of support and a showing of solidarity for the trans community at Pitt and beyond.

“I love the number of trans people I’m seeing. I’m loving the number of allies. I’m loving that I am seeing parents who are here for their trans children. We’re showing community right now and that’s amazing,” said organizer Iris Olson.

The rally was in response to a speaker, invited to campus by conservative student group Turning Point USA at Pitt.

Demonstrators said that speaker was the first of three so-called anti-trans speakers appearing at the university in the coming days.

More than 11,000 students, staff, and community members signed a petition asking the university to put a stop to the appearances ahead of Friday night’s protest.

In response, a Pitt spokesperson said, “As a public institution, the University of Pittsburgh is

committed to upholding the principles of free speech in its many different forms--from divisive perspectives to peaceful demonstrations. At the same time, the University is also deeply invested in cultivating an environment that fosters mutual respect, concern for others, diversity and inclusion. While honoring these twin responsibilities can be challenging, we remain focused on supporting the safety and well-being of our campus community and all campus community members impacted by these events.”

Among the attendees at Friday evening’s “Rally for Trans Rights,” was Ruth Mostern, a Pitt history professor and the mother of a trans student at Pitt.

“This university for me, as a faculty member, and for me as the mom of a trans kid is about making sure that everybody can feel safe, can feel a sense of belonging, can focus on what they’re here to focus on, which is getting an education, and not focus on whether their own belonging is in question,” Mostern said.

Demonstrators are planning a similar rally for Monday, the date of the next event they wanted the university to put a stop to.

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