‘Hate speech is not tolerated’: Petition forms to protest against anti-trans hate speech and discrimination

Jacob Brooks, TV2 Reporter

Over 2,000 people have now signed an online petition titled “Stop Hate Speech from Kent State Republicans” in response to the Kent State College Republicans “using its platform to encourage discrimination and hate crimes against LGBTQ+ students and women.”

The Kent State College Republicans hosted a screening of the documentary “What is a Woman?” on March 20. The film, released by The Daily Wire, features conservative political commentator Matt Walsh arguing against transgender existence and access to gender-affirming care.

Post from @kentstatecrs on Instagram.

The registered student group called the film “the single most influential documentary of the last 20 years” in an Instagram post from March 14. To promote the screening, the College Republicans painted “What is a Woman?” on the rock on Kent State’s front campus. The group declined to comment.

Post from @kentstatecrs on Instagram.

The “Stop Hate Speech from Kent State Republicans” petition, which stated “The Kent State College Republicans must be held accountable for their actions” was created Wednesday by Marina Difranco, a senior visual communication design major, on change.org

In the petition, Difranco said the university “should ensure that all student organizations are respectful and inclusive toward all students.”

“I’m trying to get the university to recognize that hate crimes and hate speech is not tolerated and is not free speech,” Difranco said. “All organizations must be under the same inclusivity and diversity guideline that the university says that they promote. The petition aims to get the attention of Todd Diacon and the administration so that they take it seriously.” 

In a statement, Kent State spokesperson Eric Mansfield responded to the circulation of Difranco’s petition.

As we have shared in Kent State’s commitment to freedom of expressions, we are fully committed to supporting first amendment rights and encouraging individuals of all backgrounds and viewpoints to share their unique voices and express their opinions freely.” Mansfield said in an email.

Late Wednesday night, Kent State College Democrats responded on their Instagram page, writing, “In light of recent campus events, the Kent State College Democrats want to affirm our allyship to members of the LGBTQ+ community. We denounce any form of discrimination against this community. We offer our love and support to anyone who has been hurt by the recent events. Our doors are always open for students in need.”

A Magazine, Kent State Student Media’s fashion magazine, posted on its Instagram affirming support for the LGBTQ+ community, writing, “A Mag stands with our trans students and staff.”

After signing, Kent State professor and May 4th survivor Chic Canfora commented on the petition. 

“Hate speech has no place on the Kent State campus; nor does such a brazen call for ‘a straight up war,’ distastefully invoking the Kent State massacre with a sick suggestion Kent State might need to call in the National Guard to protect their hate speech,” she said.

Screenshot of the petition on change.org.

Difranco said she is partnering with the May 4th Task Force and reaching out to people from the LGBTQ+ Center to “raise awareness.”

“Nobody wants to see this on our campus. It doesn’t matter if you’re Republican, Democrat, old young, a student – this type of speech shouldn’t exist anywhere.

“There has been so much discourse and legal action against the LGBTQ community, especially within the past year,” Difranco said. “As we get closer to May 4th, and we get closer to this time in the history of our campus where people’s lives were at stake, it’s so important that we recognize that all students deserve protections – regardless of their identity.” 

Savana Capp is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

Grace Springer is general assignment editor. Contact her at [email protected]

Isabella Schreck is editor-in-chief. Contact her at [email protected]


TV2 reporters Noah Rowe and Jacob Brooks and general assignment reporter Addison Foreman contributed to this report.