In a country and at a university that has always celebrated diversity and the right to free speech, the controversy surrounding an upcoming event has had several offended and many students taken aback.
Rosaria Butterfield, who will give a lecture tonight on homosexuality and Christianity, has been accused of supporting things such as conversion therapy and going through it herself.
However, if one bothered to check out the facts, it clearly states on her website that she never went through conversion therapy – she was simply converted to Christianity when she picked up the Bible one day and expected to find contradictions to everything that she believed. However, she kept reading, and was converted with a change in her own beliefs.
The concerns of the LGBT community are understandable but the lecture itself is being blown out of proportion.
After all, no one said that students and faculty must agree with the views of any visiting speaker on campus, but only to respectfully give her the right to share her viewpoints, no matter how controversial. Butterfield has every right to talk about her beliefs on campus, whether students agree with them or not. The right to peacefully protest and question her views equally belongs to the student body.
Dean for Students Michael Freeman, in a previous article in The Oracle, said the issue is one of free speech, but there are different viewpoints.
He said that while some views may be disliked by some, they could be agreed with by others, and universities are places to have all ideas out there. Freeman said, “That’s what makes universities what they are and that’s the kind of environment we want to create.” It is unlikely the university would ever allow a speaker who endorsed violence against a particular group.
Butterfield herself stated that she was concerned that her views were being misunderstood at USF and said she does not support a practice of “converting” non-heterosexuality, which is illegal in some states and considered harmful by the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association.
She believes that homosexuality is a sin, but it is her own opinion.
People do not want to entertain, or even consider, a different perspective from their own, but there are, and always will be people who see the world in a different way.
Thankfully, we live in a country in which we have the right to speak our mind in a non-violent way, and Butterfield should not be denied such rights.
Akshita Sathe is a sophomore majoring in psychology and elementary education.