- The University of Wyoming (UW) responded to a letter from 25 state officials asking it to reverse course on issuing a one-year suspension to a church elder who displayed a sign which read “God created male and female” and named a biological male student who is in a sorority.
- UW said it understood the lawmaker’s concerns but it has a responsibility to protect its students.
- “Higher education does not respect 1st Amendment rights, that’s clearly evidenced by the situation here,” Republican state Rep.-elect Jeanette Ward of Wyoming told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Republican state Rep.-elect Jeanette Ward of Wyoming is turning her attention to higher education after the University of Wyoming (UW) suspended a church elder from operating a table within its student union for one year after he displayed the name of a transgender student on a sign defending biological sex.
UW issued a one-year suspension to Laramie Faith Community Church elder Todd Schmidt after he displayed a sign earlier this month which read “God created male and female and [student’s name] is male,” referencing a male student who is currently in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority chapter. Ward, along with 24 other lawmakers, sent a letter to UW asking that it “reverse the direction that the culture of [the] university is taking.”
UW responded to the letter, obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation, on Dec. 14 and claimed that while it understood the lawmaker’s concerns, the suspension would be upheld as its investigation concluded Schmidt’s sign violated the school’s harassment policy despite the student’s name being removed upon request.
“I have given [UW] a chance,” Ward told the DCNF. “We have given them a chance, I and the 24 other signatories of that letter. We gave them a chance to choose a path of peace, but they have declined that option.”
The letter then claimed that Schmidt was not banned from the university or the union and mentioned that he “has been on various locations around campus in the last two weeks, including at the Union this last Friday, engaging the community.”
“It is unacceptable that the University persists in violating the 1st Amendment rights of Todd Schmidt,” Ward wrote back to the university in a Dec. 14 email obtained by the DCNF.
Ward told the DCNF that she intends to use funding against UW once she takes office in January, and she specifically stated her intent to defund the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office as well as gender studies programs. (RELATED: Major University Medical Center Gets An ‘A’ For Wokeness In Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Survey)
“Higher education does not respect 1st Amendment rights, that’s clearly evidenced by the situation here,” she said. “The best that I can do here is to try to hit them in their pocket books.”
Ward said that while the ultimate decision of how to respond to the university after the letter will be left up to Schmidt, she “stand[s] ready to help him in any way [she] possibly can.”
Schmidt told the student newspaper The Cowboy Daily that he hasn’t decided if he wants to pursue legal action to challenge the suspension, but that he hopes the pressure from the lawmakers will push the university to reverse the suspension.
The letter also tried to clear the air about how the male student was accepted into the sorority. UW confirmed that decisions about who is accepted are made by the chapter and do not involve the university itself.
“Any decisions related to offering bids to pledges, membership, and residence privileges within a particular house are made by local members in compliance with their national charters and policies,” the letter read. “Having said that, in the interest of correcting the record, I thought you would want to know that the student targeted by Elder Schmidt does not currently live in a sorority house.”
The University of Wyoming, Laramie Faith Community Church and the Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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