Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Police investigating online threats sent to transgender people at U of T

Several hundred students attend a Oct. 5, 2016 rally protesting the the views of University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson, who refuses to use non binary pronouns.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Some members of the University of Toronto's transgender community have received online threats that campus and Toronto police are investigating, the university said in a statement on Friday. News of the threats comes after a rally earlier this week held by supporters of Jordan Peterson.

Dr. Peterson is the U of T psychology professor who has criticized provincial and proposed federal human rights legislation as a form of political correctness, and has said he will not use gender-neutral pronouns.

Students, faculty and activist groups on and off campus have publicly spoken out against Dr. Peterson's views since he initially made his remarks in a series of YouTube videos two weeks ago. The rally in support of Dr. Peterson this week was held in response to an earlier event opposing his statements.

Story continues below advertisement

"We deplore the targeting of individuals and communities on the basis of gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, race, religion or any other ground of prohibited discrimination," senior university administrators said in a statement about the threats.

A student who received crude and violent messages on Facebook said he had received threats not long after the controversy began, but the number of threats increased this week. He has reported the messages to campus police.

"I'm just really disappointed in the university because the people who are sending us these e-mails are also sending them to the president and provost. However, no one has contacted us directly," said Denio Lourenco, a student representative at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

Mr. Lourenco is part of a group of students who have asked U of T to take independent action rather than wait for a student or faculty member to make a direct complaint about the psychology professor. They want Dr. Peterson to apologize and take down his videos.

"If U of T acted in the beginning, it could have stopped it getting this far," Mr. Lourenco said.

Senior university administrators are reviewing Dr. Peterson's videos, said Althea Blackburn-Evans, the director of media relations at U of T.

"We are just looking very closely at ... the language that's been used to see if there is a line that's been crossed," she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Dr. Peterson said he will not take down his videos or apologize. He stressed that he has a long history of good teaching reviews and a clinical practice as a psychologist.

"I have 500 hours of YouTube videos online, and I defy anyone to go through those videos line by line and find one word I've said that was bigoted or hateful," he said.

"If what I put up on YouTube objecting to an unpassed piece of legislation is enough to cost me my career, then I can tell you that the university's days are done."

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Postsecondary Education Reporter

Simona Chiose covers postsecondary education for The Globe and Mail. She was previously the paper’s Education Editor, coordinating coverage of all aspects of education, from kindergarten to college and university. She has a PhD in political science from the University of Toronto. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.