Letters to the EditorNews


Not everyone believes that it is okay to be gay. Many people view homosexuality as a sin. The popularity of this idea in some circles has led many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to think that there is something wrong with being who they are. As a result, many LGBT people have undergone reparative therapy to change or suppress their sexual orientation. It has also driven many LGBT people, especially teens, to suicide. How would you feel if your pastor, friends and even your own family told you you would burn in hell for having a quality that is not hurting anyone?

This is spiritual violence: the use of religious and spiritual belief systems to shame, dehumanize or marginalize LGBT individuals from their families and their communities. Practices like “pray the gay away†have been roundly rejected by the psychological community as being ineffectual and psychologically damaging. The American Psychological Association, among other groups, has stated that homosexuality is not a psychological disorder and that it cannot be “cured.†Being gay is as natural as being straight and neither can be changed with therapy.

Spiritual violence is a problem throughout America, and that includes Athens, GA. That is why the Campaign against Spiritual Violence is raising knowledge about this issue on [the University of Georgia] campus. The CASV worked with Senator Logan Krusac recently to introduce two resolutions to [the UGA Student Government Association], the first to acknowledge that spiritual violence against LGBT people is a problem, and the second to take action to end UGA’s relationship with an organization on campus that helps fund this practice.

SGA passed the first resolution, acknowledging the facts that spiritual violence is a problem and that it violates university policy. However, they did not approve the second resolution, which states that the university should end its relationship with Chick-fil-A, a company on campus that funds organizations classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups for their involvement in spiritual violence against LGBT people.

These resolutions, which were introduced last month, sparked heated debate among SGA members and other students. Both sides were given the opportunity to speak, or at least that’s what was supposed to happen.

At one point, Senator Ryan Slauer argued that despite the arguments given in favor of the resolution—that UGA should not support an organization that donates money to hate groups in violation of university policy—the actual goal of the resolution was to silence people who hold questionable ideas. That argument was a straw man that bore no resemblance to the stated reasoning behind the resolution. After this statement, many of the resolution’s supporters raised their hands to respond to Slauer, but the Senate quickly voted to silence the opposing side, leaving Slauer’s fallacies unexposed. Needless to say, few senators voted in support of the resolution.

The way SGA dealt with the spiritual violence resolution was interesting because Slauer’s issue with the resolution was that it was intended to silence people who we disagree with. I think the senators who voted to silence the opposing view and then to strike down the resolution should, based on their own reasoning, oppose their own actions rather than the resolution.

I urge SGA to reconsider the outcome of the second resolution and how they handle students who wish to make their case to SGA. They have clearly acknowledged the issue of spiritual violence by voting for the first resolution but refused to respond to the actions of Chick-fil-A that support spiritual violence. Thorough email correspondence, I learned that many senators voted against the resolution because Chick-fil-A is popular among students. I’m sorry, but popularity does not excuse deplorable acts that hurt the people of UGA and the community. (Take note, Chris Brown fans.)

I urge the members of SGA to ask themselves what they would do if an otherwise respectable company on campus were donating money to racial hate groups like the KKK. I hope SGA can understand that, contrary to their criticisms, free speech does not trump the constitutional rights of the people whom spiritual violence hurts and kills. I hope SGA can understand that this resolution does not attack free speech to criticize homosexuality so long as that speech doesn’t constitute spiritual violence (which would undermine people’s constitutional rights). I want SGA to know that if they made a decision based on the statements of Ryan Slauer, they were making a decision based on a fallacious argument. Finally, I want everyone at UGA to know that the Campaign against Spiritual Violence will continue to fight for the rights of LGBT people.

Daniel Brian Pitt