Group accused of supporting ‘harmful narrative targeted at LGBTQ+ students’
The editorial board of The Harvard Crimson has accused a campus Christian group of giving “a platform to homophobia, conversion therapy, and hate” after the group invited an ex-gay Christian woman to speak to their organization.
Harvard College Faith & Action, which identifies itself as “a gospel-centered community that welcomes students from all backgrounds,” invited Jackie Hill-Perry to speak at its weekly gathering tonight. On her website, Hill-Perry, a writer and public speaker, states that she was “saved from a lifestyle of homosexual sin and the like” and “has been compelled to share the light of the Gospel truth through poems.”
The editorial board of The Crimson writes that Hill-Perry is a practitioner of “conversion therapy,” a practice the board claims “drive participants to higher rates of depression, mental health problems, and STDs.”
“Though we recognize the organization’s right to host the talk with Hill-Perry,” the board states, “we strongly believe that in doing so HCFA gives a platform to homophobia, conversion therapy, and hate…Hill-Perry’s beliefs represent neither love nor kindness. Her talk extends a harmful narrative targeted at LGBTQ+ students that homosexuality is wrong. In fact, on her website, Hill-Perry claims that she was ‘saved from a lifestyle of homosexual sin’—hardly creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ members of our campus.”
“To say the least, the promotion of this practice is not a productive use of First Amendment rights,” the editorial declares.
The board writes supportively of numerous students’ alleged plans to protest the event:
In a statement released to justify the event, HCFA contends Hill-Perry’s speaking appointment was intended to “discuss broader issues at the intersection of faith and sex” and “foster respectful dialogue about sexual ethics for Christians in the spirit of love and kindness.” Not all students agree, as the event has rightfully sparked significant controversy, with many students planning to attend the event in silent protest of Hill-Perry’s views. We fully support respectful protests of this misguided choice.
We continue to recognize, as we have in the past, that freedom of speech should be upheld on our campus to the full extent to which it is supported by the First Amendment. Everyone has the right to be heard, and Hill-Perry is no different. Of course, that right is guaranteed to both those who protest events as well as those who speak at them. In the case of tonight’s event, the protesters are exercising this right in a far more constructive matter than the speaker.
“It is in moments like these,” the editorial concludes, “that we must remember to use the power of our own free speech to protest that of others to create a more respectful, informative, and open dialogue on campus.”
A Facebook event created in order to organize a protest against the speaker urges participants to “silently protest, wearing as much rainbow and pro-LGBT paraphernalia as you can. Our goal is not to be disruptive but to peacefully let Perry and HCFA members know that there are Harvard students who will not stand for these hateful messages going unchallenged.”
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