Controversy erupted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) after a photo of four students holding signs after a Matt Walsh event in Santa Barbara went viral.
The event, called “An Encroachment on Liberty: How the Left Exploits Transgender Laws,” was hosted last week at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) by the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), a conservative campus group. Walsh spoke to students about the topic of transgenderism, an issue that has moved to the forefront of the bathroom policy debate across the country.
After the event, four students posed for a picture while holding signs that read messages such as “Get your agenda out of my restroom,” “There are only two genders,” and “Transgenderism is a mental disorder,” and posted it to social media.
The students quickly became the target of heated criticism, condemnation, and even death threats from students at UCLA who felt their statements were offensive to transgender individuals. The photo, taken by UCSB student Andrew Gates, went viral and fomented over a thousand shares on Facebook alone, as angry students condemned the incident as “bigotry” and even attributed it to ISIS.
The following are some responses third-year political science student Julia Nista received after sharing the photo on Twitter:
Angry UCLA students ganged up on Nista, who is a Bruin Republicans board member, and demanded a statement from the Republican campus group.
“Julia Nista is one of the girls in the picture. Let's just bombard her with msgs, or something. Facebook can make a change,” an angry student urged. Another angry student accused the students in the photo of being ISIS "allies."
"That awkward moment when ISIS finds allies at UCLA," Dahlia Salem wrote online.
"Julia Nista piece of shit lmao," student Bellamy Edward Yoo wrote on Salem's post. "Dude stfu cuz ure rationalizing yourself with bullshit words. Literally all educated ppl, maybe even urself, knows that it's 21st century now. If this doesnt imply anything to u, u shud prob tell your parents and ur sickass attitude to go to a community college and learn some basic 'truths' about US nowadays. People are fuckin suffering cuz of idiots like you who sips Starbucks all day shopping online for underwears that you're trying to impress fraternity guys in."
The Bruin Republicans responded by distancing themselves from the message on the sign that Julia held in the photo, which read, “There are only two genders.” They released the following statement:
We neither endorse or condemn the positions laid out by our members in a recent viral Facebook post. Some of the posters were board members, and their posts are their own opinions, as our club has taken no formal position on the bathroom debate. We support their exercise of free speech, and we invite people who agree or disagree to come discuss it at future meetings.
Not long after that, UCLA’s student government condemned the photo as an act of “hate and discrimination.”
“Late last week, several members of UCLA Bruin Republicans posted a photo holding signs protesting the rights and dignity of trans people and other members of the LGBTQ community,” USAC President Heather Rosen posted to Facebook. “Every individual has the right to freedom of speech yet it must not be exercised in centering on hate and discrimination… Additionally, the actions displayed in the photo are in complete opposition of our True Bruin Ideals of integrity and respect.”
Nista responded by pointing out the hypocrisy in the USAC statement and the hateful comments of other leftists students at UCLA, whose censorship was contrary to the message of “inclusion” they were supposedly promoting.
“This post is hypocritical in its highest form,” she wrote. “It is despicable that the higher offices of UCLA wish to stifle this institution's educational process due to the diversity of opinion exemplified by some of its students.”
Victoria Metzel, a third-year history student who was harassed for holding a sign labeling transgenderism as a mental disorder, told The Daily Wire her sign was supporting an opinion discussed at the Walsh event just minutes before the photo was taken.
“Nowhere on our signs or posts did we call for stigmatization of mental illness or the oppression of any group,” Metzel said. “We were supporting an opinion that Matt Walsh offered during his speech at UCSB that is not often heard on college campuses. The left has twisted it into 'hate speech' and all this shows is their blatant intolerance of opposing views.”
Carlos Flores, a fourth-year UCSB student who helped organize the Walsh event, was also criticized on social media for having posed next to the signs. He told The Daily Wire he found it unsettling that certain facts were being branded as hateful simply because they did not follow a specific left-wing political agenda.
“It is distressing that saying an aphorism like ‘men cannot transform into women simply by believing that they are women’ is met with such vitriol,” Flores stated. “Universities are poisoning students’ minds with this Neo-Marxist gender theory crap.”
Students are now pressing the University to respond to the students with disciplinary action for “hateful messages.”
The fourth student in the picture, did not respond to The Daily Wire’s request for comment in time for publishing.