A conservative group of students at The George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. is taking a stand against the school administration’s policy that all student groups undergo LGBT sensitivity training.

Students of the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) chapter at GW expressed the desire to forego the training because it violates their religious beliefs.

An LGBT group on the campus of GW, Allied in Pride, declared them a violent, hateful group, not only because they expressed a desire to get out of the mandated training, but also because the YAF group invited Rick Santorum to the campus to speak.

Allied in Pride wrote that the group’s desire to uphold their personal beliefs and values should be “considered an act of violence and a violation of the non-discrimination clause required in all GW student organizations’ Constitutions.”

Firstly, let’s consider the “violent” portion of the YAF group’s desire to not be forced to undergo something against their personal beliefs.

The only violence related to this action is a perceived one. LGBT students at GW are equating disagreement with a lifestyle choice to violence, and that is a stretch. Disagreement with another’s actions can be antagonistic or disapproving, but I don’t believe the YAF group’s actions can be seen as violent in any way.

Unless the group is physically confronting GW’s LGBT students—which would qualify as violent, by the way—the use of the word “violent” is simply exaggeration.

A larger issue at play in this debate is whether a university can force a student to undergo training in something which is against his or her beliefs. The fact that GW is forcing students of a similar mindset who have banded together in a student-run organization to perform actions that violate their conscience is terrible.

What happened to free speech? Where are these students’ rights?

The media is quick to jump on any story that seems to push against the rights of a LGBT minority, but what about the rights of students who don’t think that people should act in that way? Are their rights inconsequential, simply because they’re not popular?

In a perfect world, both the YAF group and the LGBT group would sit down together and talk through their issues calmly and reasonably. Maybe there is an unintended consequence of some action by the conservative group that is perceived as “violent” which the group had no intention of conveying.

But life’s not perfect, unfortunately, and the sword of free exercise of rights must cut both ways. If the LGBT students are able to persuade the university administration that they are deserving of special treatment, why can’t a conservative group do the same?

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