Conservative commentator and Daily Wire host Matt Walsh is set to speak at the University of Houston on Thursday, Oct. 13, as part of his “What is a Woman?” college tour, sparking controversy on the campus and backlash from students.
Walsh is known for his political commentary on issues in conservative media, including critical race theory, gender identity, and celebrating abortion bans.
According to the Daily Wire website, his documentary explores the ideas of gender ideology and the transgender movement.
Walsh has ties to a campaign that successfully harassed and shut down Boston Children’s Hospital, providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth. He is also on the record for calling LGBTQ+ people “groomers” and “obsessed with children’s genitalia.”
In addition to his anti-transgender comments, Media Matters For America reported Walsh’s controversial commentary earlier in his career as a radio host.
He specifically suggested teenage pregnancy isn’t necessarily bad because that’s when girls are “most fertile.”
“The problem is not, per se, teenage pregnancy, its un-wed pregnancy,” Walsh said.
Walsh is also known for publicly criticizing the live-action Disney film “The Little Mermaid” with singer and actress Halle Bailey as Ariel.
Despite no evidence of mermaids even existing, Walsh said Bailey, who is Black, as the leading mermaid, is unscientific.
Mikel Moore, Chairman of the UH Chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas, defended the organization’s decision to invite Walsh despite his past racist, sexist, and transphobic comments.
“As a conservative organization, we believe in the difference between men and women; we believe in the difference between the genders and that there are two genders, and [his visit] would ignite a lot of great conversations on gender altogether.”
Moore also said the University of Houston has a “liberal bias on campus,” and YCT “believe all voices should be heard.”
“We think this is going to cause members of the community to have these conversations and consider a different viewpoint than what their professors say or what the gender studies department on campus says,” he said.
A UH political science junior who opposes Walsh’s invitation to campus said his documentary and controversial comments are more than just him expressing his opinion.
The student asked to remain anonymous out of concern for their safety.
“I reject the argument that it is just free speech because people’s lives are directly at risk as a result of the types of message and delivery of [Walsh] and the messages that he is known for,” the student said. “Trans people are, to the right, a threat to what is understood.”
It’s important to note that Texas ranks as one of the worst states in the country for LGBTQ+ people, according to a 2020 report by the Equality Federation Institute and the Human Rights Campaign State’s Equality Index.
Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the state Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate families of transgender children for child abuse. The Texas Supreme Court later ruled against the order.
The student also said Texas Republicans and conservative hosts like Walsh are dangerous to transgender people and transgender children.
“Both are harmful in their own ways and often in ways that advance the harm of the other,” the student said.
“It’s been exhausting and demoralizing, to say the least, to be in this environment and to have to continue advocating for our rights and our youth’s rights to exist as themselves without fear from the government and politicians who won’t listen to us and won’t listen to medical professionals.”
A counter-protest will be held outside the theater.
The University Director of Media Relations, Chris Stipes, sent this statement to the Signal on Walsh’s public event on campus:
“The speaker was invited to campus by a registered student organization, and as stated in our Freedom of Expression policy, the University of Houston does not approve or deny expressive activity based on the content or viewpoint of the speaker.”