Who Benefits from Anti-LGBTQ Hate?

On Tuesday, the News published a letter by Jeff Cieslikowski ’22, dismissing the Editorial Board’s still-unanswered demand that Yale stop providing campus platforms to anti-LGBTQ hate groups and adopt a “strong and clear stance” in defense of its queer students. Cieslikowski tells us that refusing hate groups a campus platform will “perpetuate anti-LGBT hate,” backfiring against the interests of queer students. If not confronted with hateful propaganda at Yale events, Cieslikowski suggests, queer students will avoid this vital opportunity to develop counterarguments and personal resilience.

Everyone has the right to speak their mind in the public square. But a commitment to free speech does not require every discredited or hateful idea to be endlessly litigated in Yale’s halls. Not everyone has a right to a speaking platform at an Ivy League university. Black students don’t need Yale events hosting the Ku Klux Klan to learn “the ability to refute hateful rhetoric.” Jewish students’ intellectual pursuits don’t call for Yale to platform neo-Nazis. As Yale’s Office of LGBTQ Resources detailed on Tuesday, our queer students already face an ever-rising onslaught of “anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, misinformation, and incidents of hate bias.” The claim that these students are edified when Yale gives anti-LGBTQ hate groups a megaphone for their “violent ideological beliefs” is dangerous, and dangerously false. 

Cieslikowski attempts to deflect our negative attitudes away from anti-LGBTQ hate groups, and onto queer students, whom he presents as emotionally fragile censors needing to toughen up. We should ask who benefits, not only from platforming the groups propagating anti-LGBTQ hate, but also from this rhetorical move. Cieslikowski’s blame-shifting strategy is not novel. In the 19th century, anti-abolitionists like Yale alumnus John Calhoun argued that freeing enslaved Blacks would make them “deaf and dumb, blind, idiots, and insane.” In the 20th century, misogynists declared that allowing women into higher education would destroy their bodies and marriages. Now, in the 21st century, anti-trans activists — such as Florida governor Ron DeSantis ’01 — describe life saving health care for transgender youth as “chemical castration.” Today, we are watching the violent outcomes of this and similar genocidal speech unfold in real time

Yale cannot have it both ways. A commitment to protecting the basic human rights of Yale’s queer students is incompatible with continuing to give groups like Alliance Defending Freedom a platform to spread hate. This hate is especially loud in the face of Yale’s strategic communication silence when asked to explicitly defend LGBTQ rights and oppose anti-LGBTQ violence. The administration’s silence does not uphold free speech, but rather signals complicity with organized political campaigns to devalue and destroy queer lives.


Yarrow Dunham, Associate Professor of Psychology

Robin Dembroff, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Ben Glaser, Associate Professor of English

Lisa Messeri, Assistant Professor of Anthropology