Sensitivity course teaches opposition to gay marriage can be harassment

The sensitivity course is part of mandatory Title IX training at Marquette University.

The course was created by Workplace Answers.

A required harassment training course at Marquette University tells faculty and graduate assistants that it is better to “chill political speech” than to potentially offend a “protected group,” according to a university faculty member.

Marquette University’s “Unlawful Harassment Prevention” course is required for all faculty and graduate assistants as part of mandatory Title IX training. However, according Associate Political Science Professor John McAdams, “the school protects against anything that could be offensive to anyone.”

“People at Marquette are told not to say anything that anyone might object to [despite state laws that suggest otherwise],” McAdams told Campus Reform. “Suppose you tell a joke about a protected group and the person doesn’t mind, you are still not supposed to do that.”

The course, created by Workplace Answers, is funded through the university’s budget, which includes student tuition funds. It has various training modules, approaching 300 slides total, including a section that says a private conversation about opposing gay marriage can constitute harassment.


“The hook of the whole thing is to chill political speech,” McAdams told Campus Reform. “To chill the kinds of speech that ought to be encouraged on a university campus. [Marquette] would rather [resolve to chill speech] than deal with aggrieved people complaining.”

“If a university ought to stand up for anything, it ought to stand up for free discussion of important issues,” he said.

Another module of the test show participants a picture of an office and asks them to identify “eight objects that are not acceptable in a workplace.”

Such objectionable objects include: a risqué photo, a nude sculpture, an “adult” magazine, a jokes and insult book, an anti-war poster, a sexy screensaver, an “over-the-hill” sign, and a "Men Working" sign. Each item is characterized as inappropriate for its “exclusivity” or “discriminatory” subject matter. 

The course references the Kentucky human rights agency ruling, which determined the signs “perpetuat[e] a discriminatory work environment and could be deemed unlawful under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.” According to the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, “[s]igns stating ‘Men Working,’ and ‘Flag Men Ahead,’ are identified as violating the commission statutes,” .

Marquette is located in Wisconsin, a state that has no legal objection to “Men Working” signs. 

“[It says] don’t say anything that has to do with sex or gender differences, don’t say anything about race, don’t say anything about religion, don’t say anything about age, or anything about veteran status or being in the military,” McAdams told Campus Reform.

McAdams told Campus Reform he didn’t know of anyone who had yet completed the course, but anticipates that everyone will by the end of the semester to avoid being reprimanded by the university.

Marquette is a private Catholic university in Milwaukee, WI.

Marquette University did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Campus Reform.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @MaggieLitCRO