Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Op-ed: YAF is wrong about sensitivity training – a conservative Christian’s perspective

Alex Pollock is the chairman of the GW College Republicans.

GW students come from different geographic, racial and religious backgrounds, and have differing sexual orientations and gender identities.

Sometimes, students say or do something insensitive without even realizing it because they are unaware of how their words and actions are perceived by others.

That is why GW needs LGBT sensitivity training for student organization leaders. Absent such training, the University has no credible way to demonstrate that the leaders of student groups have the tools to provide a safe space for all.

This is not an attempt to have the “Thought Police” manifest itself at GW. This is not an attempt to violate any student organization’s rights. This represents an act of respect for LGBT students who sometimes struggle to be accepted and treated with dignity.

As chairman of the GW College Republicans, I cannot speak for every member of our organization, or even the entire executive board, but on a personal level, as a conservative Christian, I feel compelled to voice my support for this training.

GW YAF is not a hate group. But the decision to seek an exemption from this training is illogical on many levels.

First, the idea that GW is violating YAF’s First Amendment rights is without merit. The First Amendment prohibits the government from abridging free speech – it is inapplicable to a private institution such as GW.

Moreover, since the Student Association funds student organizations, it has an obligation to make sure that the groups it funds are inclusive and not offensive. If a group chooses not to receive SA funding, then perhaps it should not have to partake in the training, but insofar as it does receive funding, then it should be required to attend the training.

YAF’s actions are also puzzling politically. Mandating one session of sensitivity training for student organization leaders does not constitute “gay indoctrination.” Students will not be taught to support gay marriage, for example. The training will merely be intended to promote the notion that you should treat LGBT people with understanding. I know our party is held back when we take unreasonable positions in this regard.

As a political organization rather than a religious one, YAF should not qualify for a religious exemption. In fact, no religious organization at GW has expressed opposition to this training. Even opponents of gay marriage should not have religious objections to this training, as its only purpose is to ensure that all students are aware of how LGBT people view themselves in the context of society and how to treat them with respect.

LGBT students are both more likely to be sexually assaulted and have suicidal thoughts, and should be welcomed with open arms. I have yet to see YAF members name a single specific belief that has been violated, even in an op-ed of their own. There is no biblical basis for their opposition to this training.

In fact, the biblical admonition, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is the golden rule of Christianity. Christians should embrace the proposed training in that manner.

If the tables were turned and conservatives were being ostracized on campus, we would want similar sensitivity training for intolerant students. In fact, last April, following the vandalism of a YAF pro-life display in Kogan Plaza, the organization publicly urged the University to require the students responsible to complete “free speech sensitivity training.”

The golden rule is not a one-way street: It is hypocritical to demand sensitivity training when your group is under attack, yet seek an exemption for similar training regarding a population that faces daily challenges on campus and in society.

Conservative Christians should embrace this training for what it is: an act of kindness.

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