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TOPEKA, Kansas (LifeSiteNews) – Left-wing activists were planning to protest a speech by Daily Wire commentator Michael Knowles at Washburn University this evening after school president Jerry Farley condemned Washburn College Republicans (WCR) for inviting Knowles to campus.

Knowles’ speech, free to the public but in a venue limited to 300 seats, was slated to tackle the ideology of gender fluidity and make the case that men and women are objectively different, which was enough to elicit plans to protest from Washburn leftists who claim this “discriminatory narrative” constitutes “transphobia” and “directly infringes on the safety of Washburn’s transgender and non-binary students and faculty”:

On Tuesday evening, Farley wrote an email to the student body endorsing that reaction, blasting WCR for “invit[ing] a speaker to campus who has a history of inciting fear and distrust. While I am strongly in the support of first amendment rights, I am disappointed when those rights are used to make others feel unwelcome and even unsafe in our community.”

Farley went on to note that the speech happens to take place on “International Trans Visibility Day,” declare Washburn’s “solidarity with Trans people around the world,” vow to work to make the campus “an inclusive place where all feel they are protected, affirmed, and valued,” and “encourage[d the student body] to celebrate the day with messages of compassion and support.”

The College Fix reported that it asked Washburn for examples of Knowles spreading “fear and distrust” and “hate and misinformation,” and if Farley had ever emailed the student body about past speakers, but was told only that the email “was an internal message and we are not going to comment further on it.”

Washburn College Republican chairwoman Claudia Fury told The Sentinel that booking Knowles in the first place was a “six-month ordeal” due to Washburn first taking “weeks to respond to emails,” then in October 2021 claiming that WCR would need $30,000 to pay for private security for the event (a sum that was eventually reduced to $780), then continuing to “slow roll” approvals, then the Student Government Association initially trying to refuse funding for the event.

Knowles addressed the controversy on his podcast and via Twitter, accusing Farley of hypocrisy in his professions of “inclusion” and offering to let him share the stage with him:

Washburn spokesperson Patrick Early told the Topeka Capital-Journal that Farley’s signing of the event contract is a procedural formality that does not imply his personal endorsement.

Young America’s Foundation, which is also sponsoring the speech, will be streaming it live tonight on its YouTube channel from 7 to 9 p.m. CDT.

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