UBC banned from 2019 Pride Parade due to ‘transphobic’ speaker

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Vancouver, BC/Canada – August 5 2018 : Vancouver Pride Parade- People marching with rainbow flag / Shutterstock

The Vancouver Pride Society has rescinded the University of British Columbia entry from the 2019 Pride Parade.

In a statement released at noon on Monday, July 8, the VPS stated that UBC provided a, “platform for transphobic hate speech.” 

Jenn Smith’s talk, entitled “The Erosion of Freedom: How Transgender Politics in School and Society is Undermining Our Freedom and Harming Women & Children,” focuses on ways that he perceives certain rights and freedoms in society are undermined by what he calls a “transgender ideology.” Smith identifies as a transgender-identified male.

“This decision was made after reflection and review of information and correspondence from faculty and students at UBC who were deeply concerned and betrayed by UBC’s decision to host a purveyor of hate speech,” states VPS board co-chair, Michelle Fortin.

“As hate speech rises across our country and beyond, we believe that taking a stand and saying ‘no’ to any organization that would platform a speaker who incites hate is the right thing to do.”

The VPS notes that all Pride Parade applicants must answer a series of questions to determine if they align with VPS values. All applications are scored against a matrix which includes a section for recent instances of trans- and homo- phobia. UBCs decision to allow anti-trans speakers on campus dropped their score lower than the requisite 20.

Andrew Szeri, Provost and Vice-President, Academic, UBC Vancouver, provided a statement regarding VPS’s decision, noting that the June event was “externally booked.”

In addition, he explains how the event has started a discussion amongst UBC community members regarding freedom of expression and academic freedom, as well as the university’s commitment to equity and inclusion.

“Although we will not be participating in the Parade as an institution, we are grateful that the Vancouver Pride Society has provided space for LGBTQ2SIA+ students, faculty and staff to march in the Pride Parade,” he says.

“UBC is deeply committed to the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion. We are aware that community members (particularly trans and non-binary students, faculty and staff) were personally affected by the June event. UBC remains committed to finding more ways to maintain a respectful environment for everyone in our community.”

Szeri adds that UBC will create, “mechanisms to seek-out and elevate the perspectives of our community members,” and that the institutions is committed to ensuring that, “marginalized voices are heard.”

“The Equity & Inclusion Office will reconvene the Vice-Presidential Trans, Two-Spirit and Gender Diversity Working Group to bolster existing leadership and participation from people with trans and non-binary lived experience and/or expertise among the UBC community.”

VPS add that UBC informed them that they are referring Policy 107: Booking and Rental of UBC Space to the Board of Governors in September, and that they look forward to discussing the revised policy. They also encourage UBC to apply for reassessment in 2020 once steps have been taken to address the damage done by their current policy.