An upcoming conference on heterosexual marriage is being denounced as hate speech by the Stanford Graduate Student Council (GSC), which is seeking to quash the event. Last week, the council at the top-ranked California university voted ten to two to deny funding for the event “Communicating Values: Marriage, Family, and Media,” sponsored by the Stanford Anscombe Society.
The council withheld the $600 of requested funding after student outcry over the event’s “anti-LGBT” content, according to the Stanford Daily.
Stanford Anscombe Society (SAS) is a group that “promotes discussion regarding the roles of the family, marriage, and sexual integrity in the lives of Stanford students both now and after graduation.”
“Communicating values” was created in order to “engage in intellectual and civil discourse about the issues of marriage, family, and sexual integrity,” according to the event description.
However, other students weren’t so willing to engage in civil discourse on their campus.
Over 100 students, many organized by the queer graduate group GradQ, showed up at the GSC meeting on “Communicating Values” and, according to the minutes of the meeting, decried “Communicating Values” as hateful and even dangerous to LGBT members of the Stanford community.
In the minutes (transcribed without editing), one student claims that “an event such as this would be a negative event, in schools that have negative events there is a statistically significant increase in suicide.” Another said that “public schools cannot deny student group funding based on viewpoint, but enforcing viewpoint neutral policy that denies funding for hate speech is an entirely different ballgame. Even if Stanford was a public university, it would be perfectly legal to deny funding to events that make LGBT community feel unwelcome.”
Other students defended the event, saying that Stanford should be tolerant of dissenting views and that the majority should refrain from “running a minority viewpoint out of town.”
Ultimately the silencers of speech won out, and SAS was denied funding. The next night, the Undergraduate Senate, another organization SAS requested funding from, denied SAS’s application for $5,000 in funding by a vote of four to one with one abstention.
GradQ offered to co-sponsor an event with SAS in lieu of the “Communicating Values” conference, and while SAS accepted the offer to cosponsor an event, the group still plans to host its original conference. “We really do appreciate GradQ’s willingness to co-sponsor an event, and it’s an offer that we’ve accepted,” SAS president Judith Romea said. “But we felt that such an offer could not supplant the conference.”
SAS is now seeking outside funding for the event from local organizations.
— Alec Torres is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.