Tolerance Means Dialogues fosters conversation amidst cancel culture

Tolerance Means Dialogues pushes for discussion between religious and LGBTQ+ individuals. Tolerance Means Dialogues, BYU and University of Utah hosted a panel at the Utah Capitol. (Universe Archives)

Tolerance Means Dialogues, an organization that promotes “engaging hard issues at the intersection of faith, sexuality, and families,” according to their website, brought together BYU, the University of Utah and Utah officials for the Oct. 30 Utah State Capitol event. This was just one of the many events that Tolerance Means Dialogues hosts around the country.

Before these events, local students competed in scholarship essay competitions. These essays are geared toward a theme of engagement and dialogue and can be found on the Tolerance Means Dialogues website.

At the Utah State Capitol event, each speaker offered a different perspective on what tolerance means, including the essay winners who read their essays aloud. “We can’t solve any of the biggest problems in our country if we continue to hate each other,” Utah Governor Spencer Cox said. “Either we the people collectively decide that we’re going to stop hating our fellow Americans, and tearing our country apart, or we start shooting each other … those are the only two ways this ends.”

Governor Cox went on to say that this is the more pessimistic view to take and said that on the more optimistic side, Utah has become an example of tolerance between the LGBTQ+ community and religion that others look to replicate and understand.

“The goal of Tolerance is not to convince someone with a different opinion to believe you. It is to reach a common understanding and mutual respect for those who are different,” BYU student Kimball Yeates said.

The event’s focus also fell on schools as a place which should encourage this type of civil dialogue.

“Universities have the responsibility and the opportunity to foster thoughtful civic civil dialogue. They are critical in the turning back of this cancel culture that’s become so prevalent in our world today,” Mike Peterson, representative for the Utah House of Representatives, said.

Many statistics about the LGBTQ+ community and its need for dialogue were mentioned.

Most notably, “Youth who are identified as LGBTQ+ are as much as four times more likely to have considered or attempted suicide,” Yale Law professor William Eskridge Jr. said, quoting a statistic from the American Medical Association.

Speakers also stressed that dialogues like these are not always comfortable, especially where belief systems and identity cross.

“Tolerance isn’t always easy, but it can teach us the greatest lessons in life if we allow it to,” University of Utah graduate student Pheng Lor said.

As Tolerance Means Dialogues fights for discussion between those of faith and the LGBTQ+ community and continues to host events around the country, it sets an example of tolerance reaching outside of just this issue. A list of future events can be found on its web page.

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