Todd Schmidt said he was fairly certain he was going to win the free-speech lawsuit he launched in June against top University of Wyoming officials after he was censored on campus for calling out a transgender student by name as a male.
“Well, early on we thought we had a good chance, talking with my lawyer,” Schmidt told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.
“We were thrilled with the decision and we thank God for the victory,” said Schmidt of the favorable settlement he established with UW. “It’s a win for all, because everyone’s speech is protected by the First Amendment and UW can’t discriminate against speech it doesn’t like.”
Last weekend, U.S. Senior District Court Judge for Wyoming Nancy Freudenthal signed a settlement between Schmidt and University of Wyoming President Ed Seidel and Dean of Students Ryan O’Neil. The agreement bars UW officials from censoring Schmidt’s views about a transgender controversy at the school, and it requires UW to pay $35,000 to cover Schmidt’s attorney fees.
UW officials and Schmidt were at odds starting Dec. 2, 2022, when Schmidt, an elder for a Christian church in Laramie, displayed a sign from his reserved table at the UW Student Union that read, “God created male and female and (transgender student) Artemis Langford is a male.”
A UW official asked Schmidt to cover Langford’s name on the sign and later, which Schmidt did, then later the school banned Schmidt from tabling in the Student Union for a year.
Freudenthal in late August overturned both decisions with a preliminary injunction, saying Schmidt’s speech wasn’t harassment, but “part of an earnest debate about gender identity, a matter of public importance.” She also said Schmidt was likely to win his case.
Schmidt’s lawyer, Nate Kellum of the Center for Religious Expression, did not respond to a Cowboy State Daily request for comment.
Schmidt said he hasn’t displayed messages about transgender issues since being allowed back into the Student Union to present from his reserved table.
“I didn’t find it necessary,” Schmidt said, adding that most of his recent signs are references to biblical truth.
His episode also has heightened the conversation on both sides of the issue, he said.
Some students and faculty members have reached out to him expressing gratitude and support, he said, while others have ratcheted up their disapproval.
Those who disagree with him are “not real hostile,” he said. “One girl came up and brushed off some of my booklets in the front and flipped over some of my books. But I’ve received opposition in the past.”
He characterized the disdain as nothing new or alarming, saying he’s encountered some hostility for all 18 years of his evangelism at UW.
At The Stoplight
Schmidt said he tried last December to talk to Artemis Langford at the UW sorority where Langford has been accepted as a member. UW Police asked Schmidt to leave the sorority and not get close to it again.
Then early last month, Schmidt said he encountered Langford outside the Student Union.
“I said, ‘Listen, I’m not your enemy. I’d like to be your friend,’” Schmidt recalled. “He said, ‘I don’t consider you my enemy.’”
Schmidt then turned to talking about the Christian Gospel.
“He said, ‘Yes, my favorite part is the beatitudes,’” Schmidt recalled.
The beatitudes are a portion in the New Testament book of Matthew in which Jesus preached to crowds from a mountain. He inverted typical human standards of greatness, saying that the poor in spirit, mourners, the meek, the hungry, the merciful, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted for doing what’s right are blessed before God.
Schmidt then offered to talk “about God creating male and female,” he recalled.
At that time, Langford crossed at a traffic light and said, “OK, well you have a good rest of your evening,” Schmidt related. “I said thanks. I didn’t pursue him further.”
Langford did not respond Thursday afternoon to a message requesting comment on the encounter and on the result of Schmidt’s lawsuit.
Do Not Engage
Schmidt said he then went back to the Student Union to gather his things, and he left.
University of Wyoming police then called, Schmidt related.
“He’d called the police on me,” Schmidt told Cowboy State Daily.
Schmidt told the police officer what had happened during the conversation, and Langford had reportedly given the same account of their talk.
“He asked me if anyone from UW, the police or Artemis had ever asked me to leave him alone, and I said no,” Schmidt said.
The officer then asked Schmidt to refrain from trying to speak to Langford anymore. “Otherwise, it would be considered stalking, and I may receive a citation and a fine,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said he wondered why Langford had not just told him not to approach anymore.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.