Messages written on signs held up by three female members of UCLA’s student Republican club brought some of the school’s LGBT students to tears.
Raja Bhattar, director of the UCLA LGBT Resource Center, says the girls’ signs and other social media posts have LBGT students at UCLA “feeling like they’re not safe on campus.”
“It’s been from students crying to students feeling like they’re not safe on campus with people sharing these types of perspectives and negating their existence,” Bhattar said, according to abc13.
The recent controversy at UCLA is but a microcosm of a larger debate unfolding across the country, sparked, in part, by North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which bans men and boys who pose as females from using women’s restrooms throughout the state.
Bhattar says his group is planning a counter campaign that will include hanging posters around campus, with the message, “Bathrooms are a RIGHT not a privilege.”
The president-elect of Bruin Republicans, Alex Rhim, supports his members’ right to exercise free speech.
“They’re just expressing what they believe and that’s something that we support,” Rhim said.
Some Bruin Republican Club members said they’ve received death threats in the days after they displayed their signs.
“We’ve received personal attacks to even board members who were not involved in the incident, and we’ve actually had a bit of a controversy in our club because of this difference in opinion,” one member said.
In a statement responding to the controversy, UCLA’s dean of students, Maria Blandizzi, said, “At UCLA, we respect everyone’s right to free speech and encourage open dialogue on all issues.”
“However, hurtful language that seeks to belittle or trivialize any group is not reflective of UCLA’s values and our ongoing work to be a welcoming and fully inclusive environment for all,” Blandizzi’s statement concluded.
“We want to show love, we want to start with love and not with hate,” Bhattar said.