Dalhousie students push back against anti-LGBTQ2+ speaker
DalOUT upset that former PPC candidate is speaking on campus
November 22, 2019, 7:29 pm ASTLast Updated: November 22, 2019, 7:29 pm
Truelee Love is planning to hold her own event when a former People’s Party of Canada candidate speaks on the Dalhousie University campus Saturday.
Love, president of DalOUT, the campus’s LGBTQ2+ society, is upset that Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson will be a featured speaker at Advanced Summit Halifax. Thompson has made controversial statements about the LGBTQ2+ community.
“People with extreme views don’t deserve a platform,” said Love.
“We wouldn’t see Nazi conventions here at Dalhousie and so it kind of comes down to where they [Dalhousie] want to draw that line.”
Advanced Summit Halifax is described as “a leadership development bootcamp” on its Eventbrite page. Dalhousie is not affiliated with the event, but the university is providing the space.
Love and Teddy Elphick, a vice-president of DalOUT, have organized a counter-event at Glitter Bean Café for the same day as the summit. They want to show that there is support for LGBTQ2+ and not require people to be near the summit.
“We had to process the fact that our school was allowing someone who is openly transphobic to come and speak here. My reaction, and I think both of our reactions, was incredible anger,” said Elphick.
Brian Leadbetter, a spokesperson for Dalhousie, said the university was not involved with the planning or promotion of the event.
“Dalhousie is guided by our values as an academic institution — equal dignity of all persons, freedom of expression and inquiry, intellectual integrity and respectful relationships,” he said in an email. “Any events that we organize within our community are consistent with those values.”
He said last year Dalhousie approved a gender affirmation policy, which is meant to support all faculty and students in expressing and affirming their gender identity.
Elphick said he doesn’t know what kind of message the university is trying to send by allowing the event to go forward after releasing a memorandum to the entire Dalhousie community Wednesday recognizing the Trans Day of Remembrance.
“On the one hand, you’re saying, ‘Oh, we recognize the struggle you’re going through,’ but at the same time providing a space for somebody to create more tension and open hatefulness,” said Elphick.
Thompson, a Christian talk-show host from Alberta, didn’t respond to requests for an interview. On Friday, she thanked Dalhousie for “honouring free speech.”
My session at #AdvanceSummithfx is purely about leadership and not gay or transgender issues. I want everyone attending to feel safe to do so despite the recent concerns. Join us at Dal this Saturday if you can. Thank you to Dalhousie University for honouring free speech!
— Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson (@LauraLynnTT) November 22, 2019
Both Elphick and Love want to start a larger conversation about how the university handles these types of speakers.
“I hope to create a space for people with the counter-event Saturday, but I also hope to make Dal aware that it’s not just this single event,” said Love. “You can’t be diverse on a select few days and then not be there for your students the rest of the time.”
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