- Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines spoke at the University of Pittsburgh Monday evening about efforts to “Save Women’s Sports.”
- Students and state lawmakers previously demanded that the university cancel the speech, and Gaines said during the event that the calls for censorship are “much scarier” than the unfair advantage held by biological male athletes.
- “Based off the conversations I had and the questions I engaged in, I know eyes were opened even from people who didn’t expect to change their opinion,” Gaines told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
A former collegiate athlete who competed against a biological male decried attempts to censor her speech during a campus event at the University of Pittsburgh (UPitt) on Monday evening, the student newspaper The Pitt News reported.
Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer and Independent Women’s Forum spokesperson, spoke about her experience competing against Lia Thomas, a transgender athlete, during the NCAA Women’s Swimming Championship during which they tied for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle. The UPitt Turning Point USA (TPUSA) chapter hosted the event, titled “Save Women’s Sports,” which received opposition in the weeks leading up from students and Democratic lawmakers who demanded the university cancel the speech. (RELATED: ESPN Celebrates Women’s History Month By Honoring Transgender Swimmer Lia Thomas)
The attempts to censor her opinion on the transgender athlete debate is “much scarier” than the unfair advantage biological male athletes have when competing against female athletes, Gaines said, according to the Pitt News. She referred to Democratic state Rep. La’Tasha Mayes, who called on UPitt President Patrick Gallagher to cancel the event, in addition to two other conservative speakers that were scheduled during the semester, to keep LGBTQ students “safe” and uphold the school’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).
“I did say that and I stand by that,” Gaines told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We have representatives (whose job it is to uphold the law and the constitution) who are abusing their power by advocating for the cancellation of the event because they don’t agree with it. Hate speech is not defined as speech you hate. It’s not just in regard to this specific event, the silencing is happening at a much bigger level than that. Universities and larger organizations and the media are actively suppressing voices that disagree or even question their viewpoints that are disguised as ‘inclusive’. By denying objective truth and discouraging open and civil dialogue, we are setting our country back centuries. All these signs point to the roots of Marxism.”
Nearly 200 protesters rallied in a blocked-off intersection for an hour and a half on Monday afternoon to oppose Gaines’ speech, according to Pitt News. One attendee interrupted Gaines’ speech twice during the event, but was silent after being confronted by an administrator.
When Dylan Mulvaney comes to UPitt, he gets paid $26,000 from school funding. When Riley Gaines comes to UPitt, she gets protested, threatened with violence, and attempted to get the event canceled by students, faculty, and lawmakers.
Something tells me Im doing something right https://t.co/RWqUx8AxgQ
— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) March 28, 2023
The event included a question and answer section during which attendees who disagreed with Gaines’ opinion could be heard first. Gabby Yearwood, a senior lecturer of anthropology who teaches Anthropology of Sport, questioned whether Michael Phelps has a biological advantage because of his large wingspan — but Gaines said that is an unequal comparison to weighing the differences between men and women.
Both Gaines and Liliana Orozco, the TPUSA chapter president, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the event was successful.
“Of course I was met with protest and threats of violence, but there were an overwhelming amount of students, faculty members, and people from the community there in support,” Gaines told the DCNF. “Based off the conversations I had and the questions I engaged in, I know eyes were opened even from people who didn’t expect to change their opinion. It’s evident that more and more people are realizing why allowing men to infiltrate into women’s once sex-protected spaces and sports is overall harmful to females.”
Approximately 157 people attended the event, Orozco told the DCNF. She said the chapter is “excited to host more events in the future.”
“We had minor disruptions, but the event kept going. It was encouraging to be in a room where there were people that disagreed but still got to ask their questions and have a civil conversation,” Orozco said. “Which is what we are supposed to do, how will we ever understand each other if we don’t engage in a civil conversation.”
UPitt and Yearwood did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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