Millikin University apologized to students, faculty and alumni after a graduation speaker made transphobic remarks, NBC affiliate WAND reported.
During his speech at the Illinois university, the Reverend Wally Carlson pretended to take a phone call from God and said God told him “to take care of the gender issue.”
“He understands and he’s sharing with you that there’s no theological justification for it but he’s choosing ‘he’ and ‘him’ today, doesn’t like ‘them’ and ‘they,’ and just because this is probably irritating enough people that it’s coming out this way, we’re gonna stay away from ‘she’ and ‘her,’” Carlson said.
Millikin University issued a statement saying that it “immediately” apologized to those in attendance, asserting that Carlson’s comments “neither reflect nor represent the values of our university.” Administrators also vowed to vet remarks from future speakers.
“We were not aware of his remarks prior to Commencement and were equally as surprised and disappointed by them,” the statement said. “Going forward, Millikin will be certain to vet all prepared remarks for important events like Commencement. We are very sorry for the hurt this has caused and affirm our support for all members of the Millikin community.”
Transgender graduate Nat Long told WAND that the ceremony felt “less like an achievement and more like an escape.”
“I was just kind of sitting there, like, you know, I was holding back tears,” Long said. “I was trying not to get super upset because this isn’t the first instance of transphobia that I’ve experienced directly at this school. I’ve had about three other incidents in the past year alone that have really not been good. So I really just wanted to celebrate my graduation, but I felt like I really couldn’t.”