Special to the Vanguard
Davis, CA – We were dismayed to learn today that Davis Parent University and the Davis Joint Unified School District decided to change a scheduled in-person event on trans and gender-expansive kids to an online-only event to protect the physical and emotional safety of the speaker, parents, and children who would attend this event. We fully understand and agree with their choice to protect the speaker and our community members.
We are angered that once again—following a national pattern—an event that aims to educate families about trans identity and youth and connect them with supportive, life-saving resources has been forced to change venue due to transphobic, hateful threats of violence.
Hateful speech that promotes biases such as racism, misogyny, ableism, and homo- and transphobia is often platformed under the argument of “free speech,” without a nuance of analysis that recognizes how hate speech leads to acts of violence against marginalized communities.
But when an event is planned to support people who are marginalized by race, gender, sexuality, ability, etc., those same “free speech advocates” infringe upon the free speech of others by using the tools of bullies, threatening physical harm in order to silence voices they disagree with. This is not only a hateful act, but it is fundamentally un-American.
We are glad that technology will allow the speaker, Dr. Rachel Pepper, to still reach Davis’s parents, youth, educators, and others concerned about the wellbeing of trans and gender-expansive kids with valuable information and resources. Additionally, we are proud to be one of many local resources that supports families with LGBTQ+ kids as well as the youth themselves.
As an organization dedicated to ending prejudice and hate, we feel compelled to point out how these threats of violence effectively silence or sideline voices advocating for access to physical and mental healthcare for youth that can save their lives.
A UCLA study found that around one in four California teens says that their peers view them as gender-nonconforming. While these teens may be a minority, we firmly believe that their safety, their inclusion, and their lives matter, and we are committed to standing up for their rights to be seen, heard, and respected.