Students protest homophobic demonstrators on campus

By Scout Hoerl, contributing writer

About 60 Towson University students participated in a counter-protest Thursday against two demonstrators wielding signs with homophobic language. 

One demonstrator held a sign stating he is an “ex-transwoman.” 

The Towerlight was unable to confirm the demonstrators’ affiliation to any group by publication Friday. 

In previous years, the Key of David Christian Center has hosted homophobic and anti-feminist demonstrations on the campus. However, that group was not responsible for Thursday’s demonstration, according to an email Thursday evening from its pastor, Aden Rusfeldt . 

The demonstration began around 11:30 a.m. Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Matt Lenno said the group was initially near Hawkins Hall, but Towson officials moved them to the yard next to Towsontown Garage.

That land is designated for protests and demonstrations by the university’s time, place and manner policy

“We typically contain them in the public use space of campus and keep them away from students,” Lenno said. “As long as we give them no attention, they have no fuel to their fire.” 

University officials put up barricades due to safety concerns, and students were not allowed to cross University Avenue. Instead, they counter-protested at the curb near Tiger Plaza. 

Some students arrived with a whiteboard that said “God loves everyone,” as several others waved pride flags. Students led each other in singing “Jesus Loves Me.” 

“I grew up around these kinds of people, so I think when they want to make themselves a public spectacle, that gives everyone else around them the right to continue to make them a spectacle,” senior Coda Polaris said. 

Some students expressed displeasure that the university would allow demonstrators to remain on campus. 

“I’m disappointed, really, that we’re just supposed to stand here, and they’re allowed to come on campus and have police protection,” sophomore London Brooks said. 

One student joined around 3 p.m. with a sign referencing student participants in a pro-Palestine protest in November that were threatened with disciplinary action for violating the time, place and manner policy. 

 “Towson & TUPD protects these extremists but not their own students when it’s about Palestine!” the sign stated.  

Thursday’s demonstrators were in accordance with the time, place and manner policy because they were on public use space. That policy states the university will be content-neutral in approving reservation requests by non-university affiliates. 

The remaining crowd of approximately 15 people then began to chant “Free Palestine” and voiced disappointment with the university police department.

The protest concluded shortly after 3 p.m. A member of the Towson University Police Department escorted the demonstrators to the Towsontown Garage.

Towson is a public university, and thus must abide by the First Amendment. According to the university policy for reporting hate crimes and bias incidents, the demonstrators’ words are still protected by the amendment despite being offensive. 

“Every student here makes it pretty clear that this isn’t what we want, it doesn’t align with our beliefs, and we don’t want these people here,” Polaris said. 

Jayden Gonsalves and Noah Thrappas contributed reporting. 


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