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UofT trans students worried after being threatened online following controversial comments from prof

Threats come as university is being asked to take action against one professor who refuses to use gender neutral pronouns

Psychology professor Jordan Peterson is seen last week in a discussion with students at University of Toronto downtown campus. His refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns has created controversy, and now trans students say they've received online threats.

Eduardo Lima/ Metro

Psychology professor Jordan Peterson is seen last week in a discussion with students at University of Toronto downtown campus. His refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns has created controversy, and now trans students say they've received online threats.

After online threats were sent to transgender students at the University of Toronto, members of the campus’ trans community are renewing their calls for the school’s administration to protect the rights – and safety – of LGBTQ students.

“I’m definitely uneasy,” said Denio Lourenco, LGBTQ co-ordinator at UofT Mississauga student union, and one of the people targeted by a series of coarse and violent messages on social media.

The threats come as the university grapples with controversial comments made by Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor who refuses to use gender neutral pronouns and been critical of efforts amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include protection for gender identity.

One Facebook message shared with Metro by Lourenco appears to threaten an attack.

“There will be a time when the Western world wakes up from its shackles and smites down people like you … It won’t be tolerance kindergarten-land tomorrow. There will be blood. Be very afraid,” reads the post sent to Lourenco.

Lourenco said other posts have revealed trans students’ addresses, forcing them to leave their homes.

“We are working closely with University of Toronto Campus Police, Toronto Police Service, and the UofT Community Safety Office to support the individuals who have received these threats. The situation is being actively monitored,” the university said in a mass email to students Friday.

Lourenco believes the threats are related Peterson’s case, and he criticized the school’s administration for not taking a stronger stand against the professor.

“Had the university intervened early on and condemned Jordan Peterson’s transphobic and racist comments it could have prevented the situation from escalating to this point,” Lourenco said.

A rally in support of Peterson was met with a counter-protest last week, and a coalition of student unions and campus groups have penned an open letter to the university demanding Peterson retract his statements.

UofT spokeswoman Althea Blackburn-Evans wouldn’t say if Peterson would be censured, but noted the institution is looking closely at complaints from the community.

“At this point I wouldn’t speculate about any outcome,” she said.

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