Recently, my conservative student organization at the George Washington University spoke out against mandatory LGBT sensitivity training, requesting exemptions for our religious members. Our classmates are now demanding that our organization be defunded, classifying us as a hate group, and calling our request “an act of violence.”
The same classmates who have ceaselessly berated us for years are calling us a hate group and claiming that we’re intolerant of their lifestyles? The same classmates who anonymously vandalized our quiet pro-life memorial last April, screamed down our speaker at an event, and are now comparing us to ISIS?
But we’re the intolerant ones? Maybe our liberal peers need sensitivity training for getting along with conservatives.
According to The GW Hatchet, the LGBT training would “teach student leaders about gender identities and sexualities.” The training would also reportedly teach student leaders about “using proper gender pronouns.” After the students complete the training, according to the bill, their organizations would be labeled “safe zones” for LGBT students.
After the student newspaper approached our group, my co-president gave an interview where she assured the reporter that we were not upset by the decision to hold these training sessions. We were simply requesting an exemption for us as an organization based on Christian principles. GW YAF never objected to the training, we only asked that we wouldn’t be forced to attend.
Almost immediately after the article in The GW Hatchet was posted, we were subjected to a flurry of attacks from our peers. They called us a “hate group,” “bigots,” “disgusting,” “gross,” “ignorant,” “intolerant,” a “cesspit” and a “cancer.” One commenter said, “These people are ISIS.” All this unfolded because we calmly asked the university to respect our organization’s religious principles.
GW Allied in Pride submitted a statement via Facebook saying that we should be revoked of all university funding because the Student Association should consider us a “hate group.” They continued their statement by calling GW YAF’s exemption request as “an act of violence” for our refusal to use “preferred gender pronouns.”
Our nation’s campuses are spiraling out of control. George Washington University is currently a hostile environment for conservative students. We do not feel comfortable at the university we pay tens of thousands of dollars to attend–a place where we thought we would be able to exercise our freedom of speech in order to engage with our classmates in rational debates about our differing opinions.
Sadly, that was nothing more than a fantasy. Real debate no longer occurs in the university setting. Any whiff of moderate dissent is automatically shut down by being labeled “hate speech.”
When will the university ask our liberal classmates to be tolerant of our opinions? When will it show an interest in fostering a healthy sense of ideological diversity on campus?
We didn’t even speak out against LGBT sensitivity training. We simply requested a religious exemption from it but were called bigots for doing so. One commenter even referred to us as a cancer.
What’s the real cancer on our nation’s campuses, the conservative students who respectfully voice their opinions or the liberal students and administrators who create an environment that makes fair-minded debate impossible?
If universities across the nation truly hope to create an environment where all views and backgrounds are valued, they will fix the underlying issue of intolerance against those who hold conservative views, starting with GW.