UBC barred from Vancouver Pride after hosting ‘transphobic’ speaker

UBC has been barred from the 2019 Vancouver Pride Parade after hosting what the Pride society describes as a "transphobic" speaker. Simon Little / Global News

The Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) has uninvited the University of British Columbia from the city’s annual pride parade.

In a statement released Monday, the society said the decision stemmed from the university’s “decision to provide a platform for transphobic hate speech.”

READ MORE: Vancouver police can march in the Pride parade, but not in uniform, society says

UBC hosted a speech titled “The Erosion of Freedom: How Transgender Politics in School and Society is Undermining Our Freedom and Harming Women & Children” by controversial activist Jenn Smith on June 23.

Smith describes himself as a “transgender-identified male,” who writes and speaks on “the dangers” of “transgender ideology.”

In a statement, UBC’s vice-president academic Andrew Szeri said the “externally-booked event,” “prompted UBC community members to express their views on freedom of expression and academic freedom, and ask questions around the university’s commitment to equity and inclusion.”

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Szeri said the university remains “deeply committed to the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion,” and that it acknowledges some community members were “personally affected” by the event.

“UBC remains committed to finding more ways to maintain a respectful environment for everyone in our community,” said Szeri.

READ MORE: Pride divided — Leadership under pressure as LGBTQ2 community looks to future

Two other B.C. post secondary institutions, Douglas College and Trinity Western University, both cancelled talks by Smith last month.

According to the Vancouver Pride Society, applicants who wish to participate in the Pride parade must answer a series of questions which are graded on their official policies and support of LGBTQ2 employees and community members.

It says the society also reviews “any recent homophobic or transphobic events and the institutional response,” and said the Smith event at UBC dropped the university below Pride’s minimum score to participate in the parade.

The pride society says while it has rescinded the university’s invitation to the parade, students, employees and faculty can still march in the parade.

It says it will discuss the potential of UBC returning for the 2020 parade after the institution reviews its booking and rental space policy in September.

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UBC is not the first high-profile organization to be barred from participating in the city’s Pride parade.

In 2017, the society barred uniformed officers with the Vancouver Police Department from marching in the parade but allowed non-uniformed police to participate.

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