Breaking News: Transgender Student Lecture Sparks Debate
Photo Credit: Studio Haideux
Breaking News: Transexual Student Lecture Sparks Debate
By Joshua Barnhardt and Melanie Stout
Jennifer Braly, a transgender UAFS student, was scheduled to give a guest lecture for Dr. Laura King’s General Psychology class on Friday, April 20th at 9AM. The lecture coincided with the class unit on gender and sexuality. Thursday afternoon, Ms. Braly received an email from Dr. Rita Barrett, Associate Professor of Psychology and Department Chair, which, according to Ms. Braly said,
“All of my faculty are now diligently preparing for the closure of the semester. They must be in compliance with their syllabi, grading, final exams, graduation exercises, etc. and it is impossible to afford more class time to accommodate an additional speaker at one week before finals.Therefore, your scheduled speaking engagements in any course in my department (PSYC, CJ, SOCI, ANTH) have been cancelled. This includes the two scheduled for tomorrow Friday April 20th in Dr. Laura King’s classes.”
Ms. Braly spoke with Dr. King after receiving the email and the two decided to go ahead with the lecture. Before class began, Dr. Henry Rinne, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, requested to speak with Ms. Braly in his office. Despite a letter of recommendation from Dr. Nicha Otero, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, according to Ms. Braly, she was told by Dr. Rinne that she would not be allowed to speak in any classroom at this University from that day forward. Ms. Braly reports that Dr. Rinne cited a lack of qualification to lecture in a University setting as the reasoning behind this decision.
Due to the cancellation of this lecture, Dr. King made the decision to dismiss the 9AM and 10AM classes on Friday. Students requested Ms. Braly to give her lecture if it was moved to another non-classroom campus location. Ms. Braly suggested a move to the Smith-Pendergraft Center in the student lounge. Due to the change in venue, Ms. Braly was unable to use her usual presentation accompanied by powerpoint and digital media. Despite this setback, Ms. Braly was able to give a modified version of her lecture to the audience. According to witnesses, during her speech, Ms. Braly was heckled by students not attending the lecture who used various derogatory terms towards Ms. Braly. A verbal altercation between audience members and the hecklers broke out and Michael Hamilton, Member-at- Large of the Student Government Association, was sent to the scene. By the time he arrived, the altercation had subsided. Ms. Braly was able to continue her abbreviated lecture and answer audience questions without further incident.
Ms. Braly is the President of RSO Circle of Hope, which is a straight and LGBTQ ministry committed to providing a positive environment for worship and Bible study. Circle of Hope will host Ms. Braly for the full presentation of her lecture on Monday April 23 at 3PM in Math/Science 206 and again on Thursday April 26th at 7PM in Math/Science 206. All are welcome to attend. Members of the Lions’ Chronicle staff will be covering this event for a follow up story.
The Lions’ Chronicle Staff is working to get more information on this developing story. Check back later this week for more information and updates. We will post on our facebook page when the new stories are updated.