Conservative club labeled 'cancer,' 'hate group' for requesting to opt out of LGBT training
A conservative student organization at the George Washington University (GW) has been targeted as a “hate group” by other organizations and GW students after asking to be exempt from LGBT sensitivity training.
GW’s chapter of Young America Foundation—an organization that advocates individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values—has said that they would hope to receive a “religious exemption” from a new student government bill that would require all student leaders to participate in mandatory LGBT-issues trainings, according to the Hatchet, GW’s student newspaper.
“Mandated training is not really being very tolerant of all religious beliefs,” Emily Jashinsky, the YAF chapter’s president, told the Hatchet. “The way that people who are deeply Christian behave is for a reason, and if you’re training them to change that behavior, there’s obviously a problem with that.”
The training sessions would teach student organization leaders about transgender issues, including the use of preferred pronouns, gender identities, and sexualities.
Jashinsky, a senior at GW, is also a correspondent for Campus Reform. She told the Hatchet that her organization, which is primarily made up of Christian and/or conservative students, is very inclusive of LGBT students and considers the group a “safe space.”
Since the Hatchet article was published on Thursday, the organization and students involved have faced extensive backlash from the school community.
A statement from GW’s Allied in Pride, an LGBT advocacy organization, labeled YAF as a “hate group” and called for the university to defund the student organization.
“If GW YAF refuses to participate in safe zone trainings that are aimed at increasing safety and understanding, then they should be considered a hate group, and thereby, be revoked of all funding from the Student Association at The George Washington University,” Allied in Pride said on their public Facebook page. “The Young America's Foundation is a political organization, not a religious one, so they cannot seek a religious exemption. And their refusal to use preferred gender pronouns should be considered an act of violence and a violation of the non-discrimination clause required in all GW student organizations' Constitutions.”
Allied in Pride also criticized the YAF chapter for inviting former-Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) to speak on GW’s campus. According to Allied in Pride, the YAF chapter invited Santorum the day before “Trans Day of Visibility” which “underscores [YAF’s] intolerance and pattern of hate.”
After the article, GW’s student body president Nick Gumas tweeted, “Things that are absurd: GW YAF.”
“The backlash that GW YAF has received for standing against required LGBT sensitivity training at GW is just another instance of the liberal intolerance,” Amanda Robbins, the vice president of GW’s YAF told Campus Reform in an exclusive statement. “It also contributes to the wider problem of free speech being compromised on campuses across America.”
“The atmosphere on GW and other campuses has become increasingly caustic for conservatives and those that hold traditional viewpoints to profess and live out their values. Last spring, we attempted to sit down with the Office of ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ after our pro-life display was vandalized and they continually deflected to speak to us,” Robbins said. “If GW hopes to truly create an environment where all views and backgrounds are valued, they will host sensitivity trainings for all groups that have been subject to intolerance or at least exempt religious and conservative groups from this mandated training.”
GW students have also attacked the YAF chapter on social media, calling for the defunding of the organization and comparing the student organization to ISIS. Students have also called the group a “cancer,” “hypocritical bigots,” “ignorant,” and “cesspit of intolerance.”
According to the Hatchet article, student senators have said they will not allow organizations to opt out of the training.
The GW administration did not respond to a request for comment from Campus Reform.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn