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UW suspends anti-LGBTQ activist who harassed a trans student

An individual dressed in black holds a protest sign that reads "I shouldn't have to be this afraid to be here. UW used to be somewhere I felt safe."
Jeff Victor
/
Wyoming Public Media
Silent protesters gathered in UW's Simpson Plaza Wednesday, Dec. 7. UW was criticized for not removing a man who had targeted an individual trans student for harassment.

The University of Wyoming (UW) has suspended a local church elder from tabling in the student union for one year — a punishment for using his table in the union to harass an individual trans student.

Last Friday, Dec. 2, Laramie Faith Community Church Elder Todd Schmidt displayed a banner, targeting one specific UW trans student by name. He was made to take down the name, but allowed to stay on campus and table for the rest of the day.

Members of the LGBTQ community and their allies said UW was failing to protect its students from harassment by letting him stay.

Now, less than a week later, UW has kicked Schmidt out of the union — for one year. Schmidt won't be allowed to table at the student center until at least next December.

"Following a review of the Dec. 2 incident in the Wyoming Union involving the harassment of a UW student by an individual external to the university, we have determined that these actions violated the university policy prohibiting discrimination and harassment," UW President Ed Seidel wrote in an email to campus. "Given this, the individual's privileges to reserve a table in the Union have been suspended for one year."

Schmidt's banner included the specific harassment along with a more general statement taking aim at all transgender people. The ban punishes him for his specific by-name targeting of an individual student. It does not punish him for the more general anti-trans message.

Anti-LGBTQ incidents have been rising at UW, members of the local queer community report.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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