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Riley Gaines’ Speech Draws Dozens Of Supporters & Protestors To HUB Lawn

Former Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, an active proponent against transgender women competing in female athletics, drew about 150 students and community members to HUB Lawn Tuesday following the relocation of her “Real Women’s Day” speech hosted by Turning Point USA and Young Americans for Freedom.

Real Women’s Day, a social media movement created by Gaines, is intended to recognize biological females on October 10, or X/X in Roman numerals to denote female chromosomes.

Ahead of Gaines’ speech that began at about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, members of Penn State-affiliated organizations Turning Point USA and Young Americans for Freedom presented a free speech exercise, encouraging students to write anything they pleased on a massive beachball to encourage participation through anonymity.

“FIRE just released a report about two months ago. Penn State is ranked 189 out of [248] universities, and we just think that’s abysmal,” Turning Point USA and Young Americans for Freedom member Gavin Fichter said. “We want everyone, no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, to be able to speak freely and express your opinion.”

Critics of Gaines and her beliefs began to gather outside of the HUB, carrying transgender flags across from Turning Point USA and Young Americans for Freedom’s beachball demonstration.

“I heard that there was a transphobic speaker coming, and I wanted to come out and show my support for my fellow trans or non-binary siblings,” graduate student Winter Parts said. “It’s really important for me to stand up to this… I think it’s disgusting that events like this are normalized where transphobic speakers come to campus, so I’m happy to come out here and resist.”

Members of Turning Point USA and Young Americans for Freedom relocated their tables from the top of HUB Lawn to the seating area in between the Biobehavioral Health Building and the Henderson Building. En route to the new location, the number of protestors grew, and a select few began shouting expletives at members of the organizing groups, and one individual flipped a table.

Eventually, two protesting individuals were detained by Penn State Police and escorted from HUB Lawn for “disorderly conduct,” according to one of the arresting officers.

Gaines approached HUB Lawn from the Biobehavioral Health Building and immediately criticized Penn State for allegedly canceling the room booked for her speaking event because of “staffing issues and risk management.”

Gaines’ speech was largely drowned out by “can’t swim” or “protect trans rights” chants despite her use of a megaphone and additional microphones.

Throughout Gaines’ 20-minute speech, protesters never stopped chanting, and supporters of Gaines began to shout “protect girls’ rights” in response.

“What are you so scared of? The truth? Science? Common sense? Logic? Reasoning? I’d love to hear your argument here because what I’m here to talk about is men are men. Women are women, and you cannot change your sex,” Gaines said to the protestors. “It’s that simple.”

A handful of political figures were in attendance at Gaines’ event, including 25th District Pennsylvania Senator Cris Dush and State College Area School District School Board candidate Megan Layng.

After Gaines departed, Dush helped lead a group of remaining supporters in prayer, and the group prayed for those in Israel, freedom of speech, and election integrity.

“I’m glad we were actually able to have both sides here,” Dush said following Gaines’ speech. “I would’ve preferred that it would have been a civil discourse… [Gaines] has had that experience on other campuses. She asked a couple of times if people had questions from the other side, and they refused. That’s telling. Intellectual discussions and intellectual honesty is paramount on a university campus.”

Protesters departed after Gaines’ exit, and HUB Lawn quickly emptied after the near-hour-and-a-half standoff between Gaines and her critics.

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a junior journalism major from Richmond, Virginia, and is Onward State's managing editor. She also talks about random, fun stuff on our podcast, Podward State. Keeley is a lover of grilled cheese, naps, and Kevin Jonas. If you would like to share your thoughts on the superior Jonas Brother, feel free to contact her on Twitter @keeleylammm or send your best Spotify playlist to her email [email protected].

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