CitizenGO, which describes itself as a “community of active citizens who work together” by using online petitions and “action alerts as a resource to defend and promote life, family and liberty,” said its #FreeSpeechBus will be in the nation’s capital on April 3.
The bus is scheduled to make stops in Boston tomorrow and Thursday and New Haven, Conn., on March 31. It is also expected to stop in Philadelphia on April 1 and Baltimore on April 2.
The bus, which is orange, contains stylized images of boys and girls with symbols of male and female chromosomes. It also has large slogans that read, “Boys are boys… and always will be” and “Girls and girls… and always will be.”
“You can’t change sex,” they read. “Respect all.”
The bus also contains the link to a website that urges people to sign a petition “to defend freedom of speech.”
CitizenGO has not announced where the bus will stop in D.C. and whether there will be any public events that will highlight the campaign.
Brian Brown, president of the D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage, is a member of CitizenGO’s board of trustees. A NOM spokesperson told the Washington Blade on Tuesday that plans for a public event have not been finalized.
Group: Bus vandalism ‘hate crime’
The bus was in New York last week.
CitizenGO supporters posted pictures onto social media that indicate the bus drove past the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. It was also in front of Trump Tower and in Times Square.
CitizenGO wrote on its website that it was “attacked and vandalized right in front of the” U.N. on March 23.
Pictures that CitizenGO posted to its website show the bus’ windshield was broken and “trans rights” was written onto the side of it. CitizenGO also claims the bus driver received “minor injuries” during the incident.
“This is a hate crime and sadly the way that those who pretend to preach ‘tolerance’ feel about opposing viewpoints,” wrote CitizenGO on its website, which also urges supporters to help it pay for the costs that are associated with repairing the bus.
“There will be some major costs to get the bus back on the road in a timely manner,” it wrote. “We are liable for the bus and safety of the bus driver.”
CitizenGO spokesperson Gregory Mertz told the Blade on Monday that damage to the bus “was much greater than expected.”
— CitizenGO (@CitizenGO) March 28, 2017
The vandalism coincided with the annual U.N. Commission on the Status of Women meeting. Advocates have sharply criticized President Trump for appointing Lisa Correnti, executive vice president of the Center for Family and Human Rights, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated an anti-LGBT hate group, to the U.S. delegation.
Judge bans bus from Madrid
The CitizenGO bus is expected to arrive in D.C. less than two months after Trump rescinded the Obama administration’s guidance on how public schools should accommodate trans students.
The U.S. Supreme Court on March 28 had been scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of Gavin Grimm, a trans student who alleges his Virginia school district’s policy that prohibits him from using the boys bathroom or locker room violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The case was sent back to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., on March 6.
HazTeOir, which is CitizenGO’s far-right Catholic affiliate in Spain that translates into “Make yourself heard,” has launched a similar campaign.
An orange bus contained stylized pictures of boys and girls with slogans that asked, “Do boys have a penis?” and, “Do girls have a vagina?” Another bus also contained anatomical images that said, “This is a penis” and, “This is a vagina” and a man asking, “What is this?”
“Gender identity is not chosen,” reads a slogan on the bus. “Don’t let others choose it for you.”
Madrid authorities said the bus violated a local advertising ordinance and impounded it. Reuters reported a judge banned the bus from driving through the Spanish capital on March 2 because it could provoke hate crimes.
The HazTeOir bus was expected to travel to the cities of Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, Zaragoza, Pamplona, San Sebastián, Bilbao and Vitoria.
LGBT rights advocates in Pamplona surrounded the bus as it drove through the city on March 21. Activists in Madrid and other cities across Spain also protested the campaign.
Local authorities criticized the HazTeOir campaign and sought to prevent the bus from driving through their respective jurisdictions.
Chelsea Clinton also criticized the campaign.
“Boys have been censored,” reads a banner on HazTeOir’s website. “Girls have been censored.”
Gay Guatemala, an LGBT website in Guatemala, on March 16 posted a picture of an orange CitizenGO billboard in the city of San Cristobal, which is a suburb of Guatemala City, that read, “Boys have a penis. Girls have a vagina. Don’t be tricked.”
“If you are born a man, you are a man,” it reads. “If you are a woman, you will continue to be.”
— GayGuatemala 🏳️🌈 (@GayGuatemala) March 17, 2017
A Guatemala City-based activist with whom the Blade spoke on Monday said trans activists have filed a formal complaint against the billboard. The activist said there is currently an “open case.”