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UW responds to multiple campus incidents targeting LGBTQ students

Allan Henderson

University of Wyoming President Ed Seidel wrote a message to students and staff Monday, Dec. 5, responding to multiple “incidents of concern” on campus. The incidents reportedly targeted the local LGBTQ+ community last week, around the same time that the Department of Homeland Security warned of heightened domestic terrorist attacks against LGBTQ+ groups and other minorities.

In the most visible altercation, an elder at a Laramie church caused commotion when he reserved space in UW’s student union and specifically called out a member of the university’s queer community. He displayed a sign that read, “God created male and female,” and then wrote one individual’s name down underneath, according to the student newspaper and confirmed by UW.

University officials say they immediately asked the church elder to remove the student’s name. He complied with their request, but the man was allowed to stay afterwards. He was also involved in a number of heated exchanges, which the university said, “were not in obvious violation of UW policies.”

Two other unrelated disruptions at queer-specific events on campus also reportedly occurred last week. That includes students making negative comments towards flags in the Multicultural Resources Center and mocking a UW Art Museum Pokes Pride event, according to the Casper Star Tribune. The university is investigating whether further actions are necessary in all three incidents.

President Ed Seidel reminded the community of UW’s community values Monday, including integrity, respect and social consciousness.

“There truly is enough room for all of us; yet we only get to coexist civilly if we treat one another with care,” he said.

Local and national concern about attacks toward LGBTQ+ community members, including the recent shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, prompted Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon to write a message to his followers on Twitter Monday.

“As the Equality State, Wyoming is not – and should not be – a place where bigotry, discrimination and anti-semitism are tolerated,” he wrote.

Seidel said that those negatively affected by these recent events can contact the UW’s office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion or the Rainbow Resource Center.

Will Walkey is currently a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. Through 2023, Will was WPR's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.
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