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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania—Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania (AFP-PA) issued a statement rebuking Pennsylvania lawmakers for pressuring the University of Pittsburgh to cancel controversial events on its public campus.
Last week, Reps. Jessica Benham and Malcom Kenyatta on behalf of the Pennsylvania House LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus issued an official statement urging the University of Pittsburgh to cancel two student-run events that are scheduled to discuss transgender politics in sports and culture.
AFP-PA Deputy State Director and Pitt Alumni Emily Greene issued the following statement, rebuking the Representatives and Caucus for attempting to suppress protected speech:
“AFP-PA is deeply disappointed in Reps. Benham, Kenyatta, and the House LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus for suggesting that a university censor controversial discussions. It is not the role of elected lawmakers to determine what speech is allowable in academic settings—where wide-ranging inquiry and debate are the cornerstone of intellectual freedom and progress. Such chilling actions from members of the General Assembly not only violate the spirit of free speech—but in urging a publicly funded university to censor students—they also violate the First Amendment.
“University campuses are the precise venue where controversial discussions should be happening. While the scheduled topics certainly have the potential to be offensive to members of the community, such discussions are the very definition of ‘free speech’. Far from encouraging censorship on campus, the Pennsylvania General Assembly should be taking steps to protect free speech on campus and throughout the Keystone State.”
General Assembly free speech champions Reps. Jill Cooper (LD-55, Westmoreland) and Marla Brown (LD-09 Lawrence) issued additional statements promoting free speech on college campuses:
“In this world of emotionally driven responses, I believe the Pitt community has a great opportunity to practice an advanced, higher level of citizenry by embracing civility and allowing people to exchange ideas,” Rep. Cooper said. “Instead of seeking to silence those with different opinions, we should discuss matters respectfully with the intent of understanding one another. I agree with transgender activist Deirdre McCloskey that the events should occur as scheduled. We shouldn’t be afraid of civil discussion; we should embrace it. Our differences should be celebrated, promoted and expressed with appreciation and consideration for others, rather than canceled or censored.”
Rep. Marla Brown followed up: “Restrictions on speech deprive students of their right to invite speech they wish to hear, debate speech with which they disagree, and protest speech they find bigoted or offensive. An open society depends on liberal education, and the whole enterprise of liberal education is founded on the principle of free speech.”
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