The recent opinion piece by Ernest Owens contains a number of inconsistencies and offensive remarks. The most egregious among them: the assertion that “gay-friendliness” is synonymous with “gay-tolerance.”
Those active in the LGBT community at Penn — or even those who have glanced at Daily Pennsylvanian headlines over the last few years — would agree that our school goes beyond simple tolerance. Indeed, a political scientist would immediately identify the environment here as one that promotes “positive liberty” — the power and resources to act to fulfill our potential, rather than a simple freedom from interference by others.
There is an entire center devoted to providing the community with support groups, literature, social outlets and materials. There is representation of the LGBT student population at all levels of the administration, from the Undergraduate Assembly to the University Council. Support and friendliness characterize life at Penn, albeit with — as Owens points out — pitfalls in a few specific campus institutions. Lambda Alliance has been actively looking to remedy these cases — an effort that is only helped by the fact that we publicly hold ourselves to such high standards for equality and justice.
So rather than condemn Penn for emphasizing the success of its students and staff in the promotion of LGBT rights, I congratulate our school for acting as a city upon a hill of sorts — a standard that many other universities and organizations should be striving for. The fact that these accomplishments have been picked up by national media only further legitimizes the efforts of the Penn community. Is there still room for progress, as Owens says? Plenty. Is there reason to de-publicize our achievements to date, hiding behind a veil of unrealistic idealism and social progressivism? Absolutely not.
College senior and Editor-in-Chief of Penn Political Review
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