Students engage in peaceful protest in light of Matt Walsh speech

A small group of students gathered outside of Pat Neff Hall to peacefully protest Baylor welcoming Matt Walsh to campus. Wash is a writer for The Daily Wire and his speech focused on what he believes the politically left has done to marriage and gender. Claire Boston | Multimedia Journalist

By Madalyn Watson | Staff Writer

Students shared their concerns about Matt Walsh’s recent speech on campus by presenting posters listing LGBTQ+ victims of modern hate crimes at 5 p.m. on Wednesday outside of Pat Neff Hall.

Matt Walsh, a writer for The Daily Wire, gave a speech at Baylor on Tuesday explaining why he believes the politically left are changing the way society perceives gender, life and marriage for the worst. In his speech, Walsh said that he believes gay marriage should not be seen as equivalent to heterosexual marriage.

When Dallas senior Jon Abel learned about the lecture Matt Walsh was giving at Baylor last week, he asked some of his friends to join him in getting his counter argument across to the Baylor administration as well as to students. They decided to hold a peaceful protest outside of Pat Neff Hall.

“We felt like our problem wasn’t necessarily with Walsh himself, but with an atmosphere at Baylor that would allow a speaker like last to be present on campus, when LGBTQ+ groups can’t even get chartered,” Abel said.

Abel said that their problem is with the directly hostile atmosphere to LGBTQ+ students on campus and that one of their main goals is to raise awareness that there are LGBTQ+ students and students that support the community on campus.

“We were in the stages of planning something as a direct response to the Matt Walsh event, but we couldn’t get approval and going through with an unsanctioned event would have posed unnecessary risks to both the students attending and to any group that would have tried to sponsor us,” Abel said.

Mount Vernon sophomore Kyla Wilson, one of the students who joined Abel’s peaceful protest to spread awareness, said that the majority of the names listed on their posters were victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016, which was the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11.

“We really wanted to illustrate by doing that, that this isn’t something that like goes away just because gay marriage is legalized. It’s something that has appeared even more I think, and it’s definitely illustrated in the media a lot more thankfully,” Wilson said.

The posters also featured the names of other recent LGBTQ+ victims of modern hate crimes as well as the ages of all of the victims.

“Because if you look at the names, if you look at the ages, these are people’s children, these are people’s brothers, their sisters, that are human beings that are related to somebody. They’re cared for by a lot of people, just like you and I are,” Wilson said.

Wilson said that she personally has not thought to call what they are doing a protest, but rather a way to spread awareness that people in the LGBTQ community have been hurt, or even killed because of attitudes like Walsh’s.

Abel said that the posters that informed students Matt Walsh’s speech conveyed a message of hostility, and he found the fact that they were Baylor Student Activities approved problematic.

“We want to come to a campus where not only we can get an education, but where we can feel safe and welcome no matter who we are, no matter where we come from, no matter what we believe. And I think that’s something that Baylor, not only as an institute of higher education but as a Christian university has a duty to provide,” Abel said.

Abel said that he understands that because Baylor is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, it affects the university’s ability to be associated with an LGBTQ organization. However, he believes that there could be a middle ground that would allow students to feel safe and accepted for who they are on campus without compromising Baylor’s values.

“Some people might think that by doing this I’m trying to change Baylor or make Baylor into something it’s not, and that’s not the case,” Abel said. “I love Baylor. I came here because of the opportunities that could provide me, and I’m grateful beyond words for what it’s done for me over the past four years.”

Abel said that he believes that an aspect of loving an institution, as much as he loves Baylor, is to recognize it’s faults and strive to better it.

“Just because I love [Baylor] so very much doesn’t mean that it’s perfect,” Wilson said. “And because I love it so very much means that I have the opportunity to see ways in which it’s able to be improved and ways that it’s able to reach out to people.”

In Walsh’s speech, he said that there is a difference between homosexual and heterosexual marriage and they are not equal.

“We are told that we have marriage equality now, that gay marriage is equal to heterosexual marriage,” Walsh said, during his speech. “But equality means sameness, okay, two things are equal means that they are the same. If they’re not the same, they’re not equal. Are same sex marriages the same as, equal to heterosexual marriages?”

Walsh said that this was not a matter of value or moral judgements. He said that it was because of the differences between the two unions: one creates life and the other does not.

Fort Worth sophomore Zachary Miller, the chairman of the Baylor Young Americans for Freedom, said that anyone who disagreed with his views was invited to the speech and would be encouraged to cut to the front of the line during the question and answer session.

“We invited everyone who negatively reply to us on Twitter, Matt Walsh invited everyone [through] the columns and his show, ‘Come out, listen to what I have to say if you disagree, ask a question,'” Miller said, “And nobody did. So I don’t know, that says more about them than it does about us.”