The organizer of a Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) meeting at the University of North Texas (UNT) says campus police escorted her into a janitor's closet for her own safety after activists disrupted the event featuring Texas House of Representatives candidate Jeff Younger.
Younger is the father of a 7-year-old child, who was born James but now goes by Luna, at the center of a 2019 custody battle that attracted national attention after his mother encouraged the boy to medically transition into a girl. A Texas judge granted Younger's ex-wife full custody of the child and a sibling in 2019.
"We actually had invited guests for all of our general biweekly meetings. We looked at local political candidates, we looked at local, conservative YouTubers. … We were just looking at anyone who'd be interesting and who was nearby," Kelly Neidert, a 22-year-old senior at UNT and founder of the school's registered YCT chapter, told Fox News Digital.
"We had heard of Jeff [Younger] before and found out he was actually running for a House district, so we just thought: he has this backstory. He's also running for an election. So he seemed like a good fit, and he was willing to come in," she continued.
But the March 2 event featuring the conservative congressional candidate and critic of transgender ideology turned into chaos when dozens of activists showed up to the event and scared away other non-disruptive students, Neidert said, adding that about 70% of the 80 attendees — the maximum capacity — in the classroom were protesters.
Videos posted to Neidert's Twitter and TikTok accounts show protesters screaming, talking over speakers, drawing on a whiteboard in the classroom and taking other disruptive actions. In one video, Younger laughs as one protester screams while he is speaking.
About 40 minutes into the meeting, Neidert said things got so chaotic that campus police had to help her and a fellow YCT member exit the room. Once they left the building, they were met with more protesters waiting outside who attempted to follow Neidert and the other YCT member, the 22-year-old said.
Officers escorted Neidert to a janitor's closet inside another building until eventually leading her back outside and into a police vehicle.
Neidert said she had already coordinated with police prior to the event because she had been receiving "death threats and threats of violence" at school prior to the event.
In a March 3 statement, UNT President Neal Smatresk said campus police bolstered security for the event ahead of time "[b]ecause conversations surrounding the student organization’s event, which focused on criminalizing healthcare for transgender children, have been contentious," adding that "a few hundred protesters" had gathered outside the building where the meeting was held since the event was limited to 80 attendees.
He added that police "believe a small group of protestors not affiliated with the university contributed to escalating the overall protest from peaceful to an aggressive encounter."
"A group of protestors surrounded the police vehicles containing both the student organizers and their guest and attempted to block their exit from the scene by banging on the vehicles and impeding their movement," Smatresk said. "The officers engaged emergency lights and sounded warning sirens repeatedly while inching forward as other officers assisted in clearing a path for the vehicles to exit safely."
He continued: "We have always touted the importance of freedom of expression and been proud of our students’ ability to speak up for themselves and participate in nonviolent protest. UNT Police have continuously worked to create and maintain an environment safe for all students to express themselves, regardless of topic."
The incident did not result in any injuries, according to the school president.
It's not the first time activists have come to YCT events on campus and tried to "down out" speakers by making noise, Neidert explained, but it is the first time she was ever escorted into a janitor's closet for her own safety.
"Something always goes wrong with protesters or people vandalizing our stuff," she explained.
Neidert has received some harassment since the event, "but nothing too serious."
"People have been flipping me off and yelling rude things more than usual, but I haven't felt unsafe," she said. "I do have a group of friends from my Young Conservatives of Texas chapter who are helping me deal with this, and they have also been walking around campus with me so I'm not alone. I've also had a lot of YCT students from other chapters around Texas reach out to me, and that has been very uplifting."