COLLEGES + UNIVERSITIES

Michael Knowles speech at University of Utah draws protesters

Apr 9, 2024, 11:05 AM | Updated: Apr 12, 2024, 9:06 pm

Conservative speaker Michael Knowles student protests...

Students protest visit from political speaker, Michael Knowles. (Mecha de U. Instagram)

(Mecha de U. Instagram)

Editorial note: This story has been edited from its original version to include additional context and reaction and to refine word choice. 

SALT LAKE CITY — Political commentator and author Michael Knowles spoke at the University of Utah College of Social Work on Monday evening, while protesters gathered outside. 

Who is Michael Knowles?

Michael Knowles is a prominent media personality who hosts his show on The Daily Wire, a conservative media platform. He has faced strong criticism from media groups and hate speech watchers for a March 2023 speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s convention, where he said “transgenderism must be eradicated from this country in its entirety.”

On its website, LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD says Knowles used a “hate term” in that speech. The Anti-Defamation League claims the word is a common stand-in for activists who are against transgender people, according to the ADL’s website.

This is especially visible on social media platforms, where anti-trans accounts use ‘transgenderism’ to skirt hate speech and harassment policies that prohibit the targeting of protected classes of people.

The Daily Wire called the accusation that Knowles is calling for the “eradication” of transgender people false, according to its website.

Knowles himself also says that was not his intent. In a speech at the University of Buffalo, Knowles clarified his stance to explain when he suggested eradicating “transgenderism,” he meant it in the same way one would say we might eradicate a deadly disease. 

“When one calls to eradicate cancer,” Knowles said at that time, “one is not suggesting that we ought to murder the cancer patients.” 

A crowd of protestors rallied outside the College of Social Work before Knowles arrived.  One organizing group, Mecha de U of U, posted calls on social media to “rally against transphobia.”

Speech at the University of Utah

Knowles spoke at an event organized by the University of Utah branch of a conservative group called Young America’s for Freedom. In his speech, Knowles focused on gender identity as an issue he said was feeding a “culture war.”

In response to a question, he restated his claim that gender identity is being taught in classrooms and criticized those discussions.

 

“Obviously it’s dreadful and should be illegal,” said Knowles in response to a questioner, in a video posted on the X account of YAF.

Knowles advocates for the teaching of traditional gender roles in schools.

“Sure, we don’t want to tell a little kid about the birds and the bees,” said Knowles in the same video. “But we necessarily will tell them something about family. Every time you read them a storybook about a mommy and a daddy and a kid, you’re imparting some kind of view of the family.”

The College of Social Work at the University of Utah posted on its Instagram page Monday that it was celebrating “Pride Week +,” with a picture of variations of pride flags adorning the walls. In the photo, people wear shirts that say “U Belong.” It does not explicitly reference Michael Knowles or the event at the University of Utah.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by University of Utah Social Work (@usocialwork)

Related: University of Utah students face charges after protesting movie they call “transphobic”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Colleges + Universities

Photo courtesy of Getty Images...

Curt Gresseth

Liberal arts education is a good choice for students, says professor

Education in the liberal arts is trending down in the US, but a University of Pennsylvania professor argues for pursuing liberal arts.

3 days ago

students walk on the U of U campus,...

Aimee Cobabe

University of Utah changes policy on tuition coverage for student employees

The University of Utah is changing its policy on covering tuition costs for employees. Not everyone is pleased with this change.

3 days ago

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), in collaboration with Utah State University (USU), su...

Diana Jones

Vertiports: The future is coming to Utah sooner rather than later

The Utah Department of Transportation, or UDOT, is pushing Utah into the future by taking steps to integrate vertiports around the state. But what are they? 

3 days ago

Financial technology, or FinTech is a new minor offered at the University of Utah. This year, they ...

Josuee Sanchez

Graduates from U’s FinTech program join a popular, growing field

FinTech grads will fill roles in businesses that include digital banking, blockchain technology, and artificial intelligence.

4 days ago

mitt romney at johns hopkins commencement ceremony...

Sam Herrera

Mitt Romney’s commencement speech at Johns Hopkins University interrupted by protesters

Sen. Mitt Romney was briefly interrupted by protestors as he spoke at Johns Hopkins University's commencement ceremony on Thursday,

4 days ago

a helicopter shown, vertiport demonstration tonight...

Sam Herrera

LISTEN: UDOT and USU to conduct vertiport demonstration

The Utah Department of Transportation and Utah State University will conduct the state's first vertiport demonstration Monday night.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Michael Knowles speech at University of Utah draws protesters