Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) was resoundingly booed on Saturday while giving a commencement address at the University of Wyoming after she said it is a “fundamental scientific truth” that there can only be males and females.
“There are those in government who believe not that the creator endowed us with inalienable rights … but that government created those rights,” Lummis said in her speech. “And the government should redefine those rights, including our rights to freedom of speech, religion, property, assembly and to keep and bear arms. Even fundamental scientific truths — such as the existence of two sexes, male and female — are subject to challenge these days.”
Students erupted in boos and jeers after that last sentence — and they continued on for nearly 30 seconds as Lummis stood awkwardly smiling onstage.
You can watch the moment here, starting right around the 49:40 mark.
The conservative Republican initially sounded like she was about to push back on their criticism, but then appeared to think better of it.
“And I challenge those of you—” Lummis began, before changing tack. “I’m not making a comment on the fact that there are people who transition between sexes.”
“Yes you are!” one student can be heard shouting back.
She resumed her prepared remarks after that, with little fanfare.
Lummis later issued an apology — not for what she said, but for potentially offending anyone who disagreed with her claims.
“My reference to the existence of two sexes was intended to highlight the times in which we find ourselves, times in which the metric of biological sex is under debate with potential implications for the shared Wyoming value of equality,” she said in a statement, as reported by Oil City News, a Wyoming-based locally owned and independent news platform. “I share the fundamental belief that women and men are equal, but also acknowledge that there are biological differences and circumstances in which these differences need to be recognized.”
“That being said, it was never my intention to make anyone feel un-welcomed or disrespected, and for that I apologize,” said Lummis.
On Sunday, University of Wyoming President Ed Seidel issued a statement politely saying the university stands with the students on this one.
“One of our speakers made remarks regarding biological sex that many on campus take issue with,” Seidel said, referring to the commencement address the day before. “While we respect the right of all to express their views, from students to elected officials, we unequivocally state that UW is an institution that supports and celebrates its diverse communities that collectively make us the wonderful place that we are.”
“We welcome the incredible individuality and intellect of all our dynamic and diverse students and never want you to feel otherwise.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.