Several student groups at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are demanding the Law School forbid a women’s rights organization from participating in an upcoming job fair due to its “anti-transgender” philosophy.
The LGBTQ advocacy group QLaw is leading the way against the Women’s Liberation Front, which, according to The Journal Times, “rejects the existence of transgender identity.”
The WLF describes itself as “dedicated to advancing and restoring the rights of women and girls.” It has been a vocal supporter of measures banning biological males from participating in women’s sports.
QLaw Co-President Ben Palmer said the WLF’s presence at the job fair is “unacceptable” and “directly conflicts with the school’s anti-discrimination policy.” He clarified that “there’s a strong distinction between a group that we find objectionable or disagree with and a group that enacts discrimination.”
QLaw’s Rainer Rosilez added it was “worrying” and “disturbing” that it took students bringing this matter to the attention of university officials.
So far, UW is standing firm in allowing the WLF to participate in the fair. Law School Dean Daniel Tokaji noted the school’s First Amendment obligation to permit “employers with different viewpoints.”
Groups joining QLaw’s efforts include the Latinx, Asian and Black Law Student Associations. In a letter posted to Instagram, they say “hosting a transphobic employer creates an unsafe environment for transgender students and violates the trust students have placed in th[e] institution.”
The school, in a statement released over the weekend, acknowledged that it disagrees with positions Women’s Liberation Front embraces, but argues that their differences don’t justify excluding the group from recruitment programs.
“To exclude an employer based on its ideology or expression — including positions taken in court — would constitute viewpoint discrimination contrary to the First Amendment,” the statement said. “As a public institution, we have an obligation to refrain from all forms of legally prohibited discrimination, including viewpoint discrimination.”
All employers who use campus facilities, post jobs in the school’s job bank or participate in interviews must confirm they do not discriminate in their hiring practices. Women’s Liberation Front confirmed it does not, the school said, and “we have no information to the contrary.”
Indeed, Dean Tokaji said UW conducted its own investigation into WLF hiring practices and concluded they don’t violate school equal opportunity policy.
The Women’s Liberation Front responded thusly:
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