As a bus touting an anti-transgender message rolled into Boston Thursday, a flag affirming the city's support of the LGBTQ community went up at city hall.
The “Free Speech Bus” as it is called by organizers has been taking its anti-LGBTQ message on an East Coast tour, making stops in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York.
“It’s Biology: Boys are boys… and always will be. Girls are girls… and always will be. You can’t change sex. Respect all,” reads a message on the side of the bright orange bus. The bus is run by
It’s a message many in the liberal Northeast don’t want to hear.
Protestors flanked the bus as it parked at the State House around 10:30 a.m., chanting, “Your ideology kills people.”
Someone reportedly tossed a cup of coffee at the bus as well.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh raised the trans flag in solidarity with the city’s queer community, hoisting the blue, pink and white bars above city hall just after noon.
“Boston stands for love & acceptance. At 12:30pm, please join me as I raise the transgender flag on City Hall Plaza in a show of solidarity,” Walsh tweeted.
Boston stands for love & acceptance. At 12:30pm, please join me as I raise the transgender flag on City Hall Plaza in a show of solidarity.— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) March 30, 2017
Boston's queer community condemned the "hate bus" as an ebodiment of the kind of harrassment and discrimination that transgender people face daily.
"As members of the transgender community ourselves, it's downright frightening to see this bus invade our home community with lies attacking and undermining our basic humanity," Kasey Suffredini and Mason Dunn, co-chairs of Freedom Massachusetts said in a statement.
They applauded Walsh's and the city's support in raising the transgender flags.
"We are grateful to everyone who has reached out to support us in this moment, and we urge our community - especially our vulnerable transgender youth - to remember that the overwhelming majority of Bostonians and Bay Staters see you and support you," they wrote.
The bus drove through Harvard University campus later in the afternoon, where students were expecting its arrival.
The College’s Office of BGLTQ Student Life hosted a banner signing event this week, to reaffirm the office’s commitment and support of transgender rights, after learning the bus could hit Cambridge this week, student newspaper The Crimson reported.
The bus was initially scheduled to arrive in Boston on Monday and spend two days in the city, but was delayed after it was vandalized last week in New York City.
While parked outside the United Nations on March 23, two people approached the bus, scratched it with a key, cracked windows with a hammer and spray painted “Tans Liberation,” USA Today reported.
The bus is run by three conservative organizations: CitizenGO National Organization for Marriage and the International Organization for the Family. They are traveling to cities they consider safe places for trans people and hope to encourage people to speak out against legislation that permits transgender students to use their preferred bathroom in schools, and sex education that teaches gender identity.
“[Conservatives] feel like they’re being silenced by a small but very loud group of people,” Gregory Mertz, U.S. director for CitizenGo, told Metro. “They’re trying to intimidate us — that’s not fair. That’s not American values.”
The bus is slated to head to Washinton once it leaves Boston.
Reporter Alexis Sachdev contributed to this story.