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March 27, 2019

Winning student essays join tolerance talk at CWRU

Contact: Karen Sandstrom
Cleveland Institute of Art
Director of Communications


CLEVELAND (Ohio)—Tolerance is not just a one-way street, say two Northeast Ohio college students who have written essays on how religious freedoms bump up against LGBT rights in an era of culture wars.

Emma Baehrens, a sophomore at the Cleveland Institute of Art, and Kyle Jorstad, a graduate student at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law, each were awarded $750 by the Tolerance Means Dialogues, a public discussion initiative aimed at bringing together students and thought leaders to find more constructive approaches to living together in a pluralistic society.

Baehrens and Jorstad will join others at noon Wednesday, March 27, in a panel discussion, "Religious Liberty & the Culture War Over LGBT Rights: Can University Students Make a Difference?" The event takes place in the Moot Courtroom at the CWRU School of Law, 11075 East Blvd., Cleveland, 44106. Admission is free. All students who attend can join the discussion by tweeting questions to @ToleranceMeans. One will be randomly selected to win a $250 Social Engagement Prize.

Dialogue catalysts will be Shannon Minter, Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Robin Fretwell Wilson, University of Illinois College of Law. CWRU law school faculty members Jessie Hill and Jonathan Adler will moderate.

Baehrens, who studies Sculpture + Expanded Media at CIA wrote that she “thought that I was tolerant because I was accepting of liberal beliefs, but I still frowned upon conservative values without trying to understand why people held these beliefs. I had never tried to understand both sides of the war between religious freedom and LGBTQ rights.”

Jorstad writes that “America’s current political climate strongly endorses a false dichotomy, where we are encouraged to believe there are only two options to choose from, and too many of my generation have fallen into the camp ignorant of the potential for a middle ground. Only by actively advocating for tolerance by example can this hostility be properly addressed. So instead of telling your ideological opponent why they’re wrong, ask them why they’re right—you might be surprised.”

The students’ fully essays can be found here.

The Tolerance Means Dialogues engage people of different perspectives to find solutions to problems at the intersection of faith, sexuality, and families.

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