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Ben Shapiro, right-wing pundit, to speak at BU, stirring controversy on campus

Ben Shapiro is a well-known right-wing figure and Harvard Law School graduate who has written in the Daily Wire and the National Review that “homosexual activity is a sin” and said a transgender woman had a “mental disorder.”
Ben Shapiro is a well-known right-wing figure and Harvard Law School graduate who has written in the Daily Wire and the National Review that “homosexual activity is a sin” and said a transgender woman had a “mental disorder.”Rich Pedroncelli/File/Associated Press

Ben Shapiro, a conservative commentator and writer, is set to give a talk at Boston University Nov. 13, and some students are protesting the controversial speaker, officials said.

Shapiro, 35, is a well-known right-wing figure and Harvard Law School graduate who has written in the Daily Wire and the National Review that “homosexual activity is a sin” and said a transgender woman had a “mental disorder.”

BU will spend almost $13,000 to bring canine units and security officers to the event. The speech will be hosted by the BU Young Americans for Freedom.

“It’s hard to defend BU paying over $12,000 in security costs,” said Anu Sawhney, a BU student and cochair of BU Students Against Hate Speech. “It’s not just free speech they’re actively platforming, it’s hate speech and hateful rhetoric he’s making.”

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The university has not confirmed a venue for Shapiro’s speech, said Colin Riley, BU’s executive director of media relations.

“We’ve covered some costs as we have covered costs for other speakers,” Riley said. “We have 450-plus student groups. This group invited a high-profile speaker and other groups have invited other high-profile speakers. It’s nothing unusual.”

BU Students Against Hate Speech held a rally last week to protest Shapiro’s speech, Sawhney said. The group is also planning a sit-in at BU’s Marsh Plaza on Monday.

“Protests that call for shutting the event down are honestly just sad,” said Diana Soriano, a BU student and chairwoman of the BU Young Americans for Freedom. “There’s so many leftist events on campus and they can’t deal with one mainstream conservative. He’s not outlandish. He’s the most mainstream conservative there is.”

The organization hosted an event last April with Matt Walsh, a self-proclaimed “theocratic fascist.”

This story was first reported in The Daily Free Press.

Grand Canyon University in Arizona briefly canceled a speech Shapiro was set to give last February. Shapiro ended up giving the speech in April after Grand Canyon reversed its decision because of backlash from some in the community.

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Note: An earlier version of this story said Grand Canyon canceled a speech by Shapiro.


Alyssa Lukpat can be reached at alyssa.lukpat@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaLukpat.