CHICAGO - LGBTQ students at the University of Chicago are circulating a petition objecting to slurs gay rights activist Dan Savage used during a exchange at the school's Institute of Politics event last week. They said they were made to "feel uncomfortable" by a "transphobic slur" used during Savage's presentation.
The incident occurred when, according to several sources, Savage and [the event hostess Ana Marie] Cox began discussing [Savage's] personal history as a gay man. According to a first-year student and member of the LGBTQ community who asked to be identified as Hex, Savage used the slur t—– as an example in an anecdote about reclaiming words. Cox then added, “I used to make jokes about t—-ies,” audience members recounted.
“That was one of the most hurtful parts,” Hex said, explaining the perceived insult was that Cox used the slur to refer to the group of people she joked about. “In that context, it was like being applied to all transgender people,” it said. (“It” is Hex’s chosen pronoun.)
"Hex" and other met with the IOP Executive Director Steve Edwards, who reported on the meeting to the Chicago Maroon:
“We listened openly and sympathetically to the concerns about language and about the dehumanizing effects of language and expressed our desire not to be a place where dehumanizing language is used,” Edwards said. “At no time did we characterize the language from the event itself.” They also praised the students for standing up against what they perceived as an issue.
But the meeting did not result as the offended expected, so they set up a petition drive on Change.org, asking the IOP organizers to avoid offensive language and terminology being used in presentations in the future.
Edwards said the IOP is working with the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Student Life to develop future training for staff and the board.