Riley Gaines says Penn State canceled her Real Women’s Day speech, calls out school’s hypocrisy

Riley Gaines was set to speak at Penn State University on Tuesday for what she’s dubbed “Real Women’s Day.”

The Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute has made a movement to make Oct. 10 “Real Women’s Day” – the date, in Roman numerals, is X/X, which is the chromosome pairing of biological females.

However, Gaines posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday that the school canceled her speech.The former college swimmer, though, caught the university in its tracks, posting a video of Penn State president Neeli Bendapudi explaining that as a public university, the school is “bound by the First Amendment” to bring in speakers “that many will consider controversial, either because their views are not widely held or because a speaker espouses ideas that are actively hateful.”

Bendapudi also provided a second “moral” reason.

“Higher education has fought against censorship, believing that the best way to combat bad ideas is with better ideas…” she says in the video. “Restricting the speech of one group or individual jeopardizes everyone’s rights because the same laws or regulations used to silence bigots can be used to silence you.”

Bendapudi later explained that the school “supports” those who wish to protest against those speakers.

With that video in her pocket, Gaines called out the school and Bendapudi for seemingly an about-face.”No way President of Penn State makes a whole video explaining why public institutions are legally obligated to let ‘bigots’ apparently like me on campus to speak then proceeds to CANCEL my speech tomorrow for real women’s day (X/X),” Gaines wrote. “Have it your way. See ya tomorrow with a soap box and megaphone, Penn State!”

Penn State commented on the ordeal.

“No event featuring Riley Gaines has ever been canceled at Penn State,” this school said in a statement.

“As an institution of higher education, Penn State encourages free and open discussion as a way to strengthen our democracy and promote critical thinking and growth, and the university has a variety of speakers on its campuses.

“Initially, Turning Point USA, the student group bringing Ms. Gaines to campus, sought  indoor space, but did not meet the deadline for submitting the required reservation documents — an expectation upheld for any recognized student organization at Penn State. The group then shared alternative plans for an outdoor event to celebrate free speech, and as late as last week they had no confirmation that Ms. Gaines would attend the event, however they sent a confirmation early this morning.

“University  leaders learned Monday evening via social media that Gaines is coming to the University Park campus on Oct. 10. Penn State staff have been working with the student organization to see to it that they can host a safe event under university policies and within their First Amendment rights.”

Gaines has been fighting for fairness in girls and women’s sports, aiming to keep biological males out. Her fight has come with just as much criticism as it has support.

Since 2020, 23 states have passed laws restricting transgender athletes from playing in sports that do not align with their gender at birth.



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