October 26, 2016 at 6:00 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
University of Delaware removes anti-trans Yiannopoulos posters

Milo Yiannopoulos, gay news, Washington Blade

Milo Yiannopoulos speaks at a “Gays for Trump” event during the Republican National Convention. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The University of Delaware on Monday removed anti-transgender posters that had been placed around campus ahead of Milo Yiannopoulos’ appearance.

The Review, which is the university’s student newspaper, reported some of the posters had Caitlyn Jenner’s picture with “Trannies Are Gay” written over it.

Another poster contained a picture of a straight jacket with “Trans = Mentally Ill” written over it. The Review reported other posters featured images of first lady Michelle Obama and trans actress Hari Nef.

Andrea Boyle-Tippett, a spokesperson for the University of Delaware, told the Washington Blade on Tuesday that approximately 20 signs were placed on campus buildings and on parking meters in the town of Newark. She said officers with the University of Delaware and Newark Police Departments removed them because they were posted without permission.

“They immediately removed them,” said Boyle-Tippett.

Yiannapoulos appearance sparks criticism

More than 300 people attended Yiannopoulos’ event that took place at the University of Delaware’s Mitchell Hall. The controversial gay provocateur and Breitbart News Group editor held up the posters after he took the podium.

“This is a traveling free speech zone,” said Yiannopoulos.

The University of Delaware College Republicans, who invited Yiannopoulos to campus, told the Review it had nothing to do with the anti-trans posters. Andrew Lipman, a senior at the University of Delaware who is the former president of the University of Delaware College Republicans, told the Blade on Tuesday that Yiannopoulos did not say what he planned to say during the event.

Lipman said the organization did not pay Yiannopoulos to speak on campus.

The Review reported more than 250 University of Delaware students and others attended a “Unity Fair” that coincided with Yiannopoulos’ appearance. John Fluharty, the former executive director of the Delaware Republican Party, sharply criticized the University of Delaware College Republicans for inviting Yiannopoulos to campus.

“The College Republicans’ choice to serve as a megaphone for Yiannopoulos’ shameless self-promotion parading as ‘intellectualism’ damages the conservative cause and wounds our party’s efforts to build a stronger, more inclusive movement,” wrote Fluharty in a letter to Lipman that the Blade obtained.

“‘Us other Republicans’ — the gay ones, like me, the transgender ones, the African American ones, the Republicans who are told every day by people like Yiannopoulos that there is something wrong with them — will soldier on building a more welcoming and tolerant party,” added Fluharty.

Lipman in his response to Fluharty’s letter described Yiannopoulos as “an entertainer known to few.”

“Our club was 100 percent unaware of the content of his speech until he was on our campus,” wrote Lipman. “Yes we invited him here, but we did not approve of posters (sic) or of the content in any manner.”

“Milo is an entertainer,” he added. “While he say (sic) things that many people do not like, almost everyone in our club asked us to bring him so we did.”

Yiannopoulos in July spoke at a “Gays for Trump” event at the Republican National Convention that Pamela Geller, a prominent critic of Islam, and Geert Wilders, an anti-Muslim Dutch lawmaker, also spoke. Twitter’s announcement that it had permanently banned Yiannopoulos over a series of racist tweets against comedian Leslie Jones coincided with the gathering that drew hundreds of people.

Yiannopoulos spoke at George Washington University in D.C. on Oct. 21. He was scheduled to appear at the University of Maryland in College Park on Wednesday, but he said administrators cancelled the event because of “security concerns.”

“The right to free speech protects every one of us, no matter how popular or unpopular our views might be,” wrote University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis in an op-ed the Review published last week. “In the same way, our commitment to diversity means that we must respect the unique perspective each one of us brings to the public conversation. If we think we can sacrifice either diversity or free speech to preserve the other, we deserve neither.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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