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Monday, March 01, 2021

UW-Madison to allow anti-trans group to participate in next Law School job fair

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School will allow the Women’s Liberation Front — a group with anti-transgender attitudes — to participate in its yearly job fair, though multiple student groups are calling for their removal.

The Women’s Liberation Front is a self-described radical feminist group, whose website says the group “fights at the frontline of feminism” and works to “protect, advance and restore the rights of women and girls” through the legal system.

However, mainstream progressives have never embraced the organization, as it has repeatedly taken anti-trans stances in court. A Washington Post article about the group last year described the Women’s Liberation Front as “fringe activists [that] argue advancements in transgender rights will come at the expense of women’s rights.” The group says women are defined not by gender identity, but by biology.

Outside employers, which the Front would fall under, must comply with gender identity protections under UW employment policy; penalties for violating that policy can include denial of University assistance and facilities.

Seven student organizations have since released statements registering opposition to the Women’s Liberation Front appearance, including groups that represent Latinx, Asian, Middle Eastern, Black, Indigenous and female law students. QLaw, a student organization that advocates for the schools LGBTQ+ population, has led the effort to call on officials to remove the group from the job fair.

“QLaw is firmly opposed to WLF’s inclusion in [the job fair],” the organization said in a statement. “We believe doing so platforms a hate group and betrays the school’s obligation to create a safe environment for trans students.”

UW Law officials released a statement last week in response to the opposition from student groups, saying the school “embraces equality and opposes discrimination in all its forms,” but that it could not remove the Women’s Liberation Front from the list of participating organizations.

“Women’s Liberation Front has certified that it complies with our nondiscrimination policy and does not discriminate based on sex or gender identity in its hiring,” the university said in the release. “We strongly disagree with [WLF’s] position, but that disagreement does not justify excluding it from posting an employment position with us.”

The university says that if it were to exclude the group based on its ideology, it would violate First Amendment rights the university is obligated to follow — despite the Women’s Liberation Front’s “noxious” viewpoint, according to their statement.

Women’s Liberation Front Executive Director Natasha Chart said the university showed “courage in the face of a toxic intolerance” by allowing the organization to participate in the job fair in a statement last week. 

“While organizations like QLaw may find this acceptable, we stand with UW Law in the recognition that public interest organizations have the freedom to speak out against such policies and must not be discriminated against for doing so,” Chart said.

The only way the invite could be rescinded by the university would be if there was discrimination in the organization’s hiring practices.

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“We asked [students] to provide us with any information they have regarding discriminatory conduct, though we did not say that the enforcement burden should lie with students,” Law school Dean Daniel Tokaji said to the Wisconsin State Journal. “We have also conducted our own inquiry, which has revealed no information that [Women’s Liberation Front] is violating our equal opportunity policy.”

CORRECTION: This article was corrected on Feb. 8 to more accurately portray the statement made by the Women's Liberation Front's Natasha Chart about men in women's prisons. 

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