A federal judge delivered a victory for free speech by siding with a Christian elder who posted a sign on an information table at the University of Wyoming that insisted that a transgender student who was in the news is not a woman, but is, rather, a male.
Laramie Faith Community Church elder Todd Schmidt had placed the sign on the front of his information table in the student union on Dec. 2. It instantly caused a stir among left-wing students, who were incensed that the pastor dared to call a transgender “woman” a male.
Mentioning the transgender student by name, Schmidt’s sign read, “God created male and female and Artemis Langford is a male.”
Liberal students quickly went into action, calling school administrators. As the university’s student newspaper, Branding Iron, noted at the time, “Students crowded around T. Schmidt blocking his message from sight until Dean Ryan O’Neil asked him to take down the name of the student displayed.”
“It started when people saw the sign, particularly females,” Schmidt explained. “They were agitated, quickly making phone calls to spread my message. Then a bigger crowd gathered. They wanted to block my sign so nobody could see it, with them accusing me of being unkind and not friendly.”
Eventually, Dean of Student Affairs Ryan O’Neil arrived and asked Schmidt to remove the transgender student’s name from the sign.
Schmidt said he understood why the administration would ask him to eliminate the part of his sign that mentioned a student by name, but he still felt he was in the right.
“I’m just trying to tell the truth and bring people to God. That’s all there is. There are not any more genders than that. Biology teaches everybody about that,” he said, adding, “People would rather believe a lie than see the truth. There is nothing more loving than being a Christian and preaching the gospel. I am trying to show people the love of God.”
The sign incident spurred school officials to place a one-year ban on Schmidt’s information table in the student union, the Epoch Times reported.
Administrators sent out a message to students, saying Schmidt was banned because he “violated the university policy prohibiting discrimination and harassment,” noting that “a line was crossed when a student was harassed by name.”
The transgender student in question, Artemis Langford, became a lightning rod for controversy at the University of Wyoming for being allowed to become a member of a women’s sorority when he joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter last year.
Some members of the sorority told school officials that they “live in constant fear” of the 6-foot-2, 260-pound man who was allowed to join their ranks and is allowed free access to the women’s sorority house.
Seven members of the college group filed a lawsuit against their school and sorority for allowing Langford to join.
“An adult human male does not become a woman just because he tells others that he has a female ‘gender identity’ and behaves in what he believes to be a stereotypically female manner,” the suit filed with the U.S. District Court exclaimed.
But this week, a federal judge has sided with Schmidt and said that his sign should not have been censored and he should not be suffering the temporary ban.
U.S. Senior District Judge Nancy Freudenthal found that the inclusion of the student’s name was integral to Schmidt’s message and his free speech.
“Schmidt’s speech was expressive, with the intent to convey a particular message,” Freudenthal wrote in her decision. “Schmidt mentions Artemis Langford by name, but that is unavoidable, as the debate revolves around the propriety of a particular biological male participating in an activity—joining a sorority—traditionally reserved for biological females.”
The judge added that Schmidt’s use of Langford’s name was not threatening or harassment, but a true “debate about gender identity, a matter of public importance.”
“Schmidt does not misgender Langford to denigrate her, but to debate a public issue,” the judge explained.
“This is particularly true on college campuses because they are the ‘marketplace of ideas.’ While elementary and public schools prioritize the inculcation of social values, universities seek to encourage inquiry and the challenging of a priori assumptions,” the judge added. “Therefore, this Court finds that Schmidt’s speech is protected free expression and not harassment or discriminatory conduct.”
For its part, the school insisted that its one-year ban was appropriate and said that they instituted the punishment to “prioritize protection of its students from unlawful harassment and discrimination.”
Unfortunately, many universities are at the forefront of quashing free speech and thwarting freedom of religion. The University of Wyoming has engaged in an example of that. But this judge stood up for our constitutional rights and determined that Schmidt was exercising his rights.
Let’s hope this type of judgment becomes far more common.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.