EDITORIAL: Community must pay attention to diversity

Last Thursday marked the start of a religious tour called Faith in America. The tour held a town hall meeting in Ames to discuss what they call “religion-based bigotry,” and will continue to travel to four other rural communities throughout the United States to proclaim a message of equality.

The message of equality in Ames was that of gay tolerance, with the argument that there is not enough in our small Iowa community. Evidence of Ames’ intolerance of gays was marked by a few outspoken people at the meeting.

Our own community members stood at a microphone and outlandishly proclaimed their disapproval of gays in Ames – a city that is permeated by young college students nine months out of the year and home to a university that has a well-respected, and quite large, LGBT community.

Some LGBT members were in the crowd, hands over their face in dismay, about what was being said by some of their fellow residents. We are residents of the Ames community and come from all walks of life – and yes, “all walks of life” might include some gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, etc. Perhaps instead of criticizing the makeup of the Ames community, we should embrace the fact that Ames is diverse and can offer community members a more broadened view of American culture.

Although students are required to take classes that help us gain insight into diversity and international perspectives, Ames citizens don’t have city regulations that require them to gain insight into diverse issues or international trends. Then, when something like Faith in America comes to Ames and offers its citizens a new perspective into diversity and equality, backlash occurs – rather than acceptance and decreased ignorance.

Maybe all Ames needs is more forums like this – dialogues that bring heated topics to the table and allow diverse views to be discussed and rationalized.

Sometimes the only thing to fear is the unknown, and if the gay community is the “unknown,” then listen to the panel discussions they offer and maybe gain insight from their personal experiences. We listen to the biblical scriptures about what God praised to be the way of man, but what about the way of the LGBT community?

They are community members just like you and deserve equality that is not bound by religious bigotry.

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