A conservative student group at The George Washington University faces punishment, including the loss of its funding, for refusing to engage in LGBT sensitivity training on campus. The students are now being condemned and attacked on campus by those who claim they're committing an "act of violence" for standing up for their members' individual rights and Judeo-Christian values.
The Young America's Foundation chapter at the Washington, D.C.-based academic institute has refused to participate in LGBT sensitivity training recently made as a requirement.
Amanda Robbins, vice president of GW YAF, told The Christian Post that their objection to the training "stems not only from many of our members' Judeo-Christian values, but also from our organization's commitment to defending the individual rights of every student on campus."
"We firmly believe that there should be no such preconditions for any student organization to be able to operate freely on campus," said Robbins.
"GW YAF welcomes any individual to attend our meetings and our events on campus; our organization has always behaved in a respectful manner."
The issue derives from a few bills that GW Student Association, the university's student government, passed requiring the training.
"The student association does not need to dictate this to us or to other students," Robbins told CP regarding the sensitivity training.
"In fact, the national YAF organization has existed for over 50 years, and in this time, it has consistently treated with respect individuals of all orientations."
Last month, the GW Student Association passed a bill that would create sensitivity training for student leaders regarding LGBT issues, according to Victoria Sheridan of the GW Hatchet.
"Trainings, which would be led by staff at the Multicultural Student Services and LGBT Resource centers, would teach professors about gender identities and using proper gender pronouns," reported Sheridan.
"Student organization presidents and treasurers would also be required to undergo similar trainings."
GW YAF's stance has been criticized by multiple student groups, including the university's LGBT group, Allied in Pride.
"The Young America's Foundation is a political organization, not a religious one, so they cannot seek a religious exemption," argued members of Allied in Pride on their Facebook page.
"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."
Alex Pollock, chairman of the GW College Republicans, explained to the campus publication GW Hatchet that the training "should be mandatory from a sensitivity perspective."
"Regardless of your views on LGBT people, LGBT people exist. … The intent is not to belittle political or religious organizations," said Pollock. "The purpose of this bill is to make student organization leaders aware that we have a diverse student body and make people feel included."
Regarding the possible result of the controversy, Robbins of GW YAF told CP about the best and worst case scenarios.
"In the best-case scenario, the university recognizes the constitutionally-protected free speech rights of every student on campus and refuses to support the student association's legislation and juvenile attempts to silence us on campus," said Robbins.
"The worst-case scenario is that the university supports this mandatory training and removes our funding and ability to organize on campus for refusing to participate."