The leader of GW’s Young America’s Foundation said the organization should not be required to participate in LGBT sensitivity trainings that were debated at an SA Senate meeting late last month.
Emily Jashinsky, the group’s president, said she hopes to get a “religious exemption” if the trainings are approved. The Student Association voted in favor of a package of bills at the end of February to add mandatory training sessions about LGBT issues for student leaders and faculty, publish a list of gender-neutral bathrooms and add a gender-neutral option to all office forms.
“Mandated training is not really being very tolerant of all religious beliefs,” Jashinsky said. “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 “safe zone” training sessions would teach group presidents and treasurers about gender identities and sexualities. Officials in the Multicultural Student Services Center would lead the trainings, which would also be extended to faculty.
In the SA meeting a little more than a week ago, several senators said required trainings could conflict with the religious beliefs of student group leaders, especially those who run religiously affiliated organizations. Sen. Chris Stillwell, ESIA-U, one of the senators who supports religious exemptions, said at the meeting that the SA must “respect people’s own personal preferences.”
Sen. Brady Forrest, CCAS-G, and Sen. Victoria Goncalves, CCAS-U, who cosponsored the bills, said at the meeting that training sessions would be used to give information, not to influence students’ opinions.