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Tolerance Means Dialogue

The Tolerance Means Dialogues are public discussions designed to bring together students and thought leaders to find more constructive approaches to living together in a pluralistic society. Tolerance is deeply ingrained in Millennials and Gen Z. As the most diverse generations, Millennials and Gen Z are already navigating these issues, so they are uniquely situated to chart the way forward and break through impasses.

The inaugural Tolerance Means Dialogue took place in 2017 at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, with Professors Robin Fretwell Wilson, William N. Eskridge, Jr., with University of Pittsburgh Professor Mary Crossley, to discuss “Religion and Gay Marriage: Do They Have to Be At Odds?”

Professors Wilson and Eskridge began the Dialogues because too often we find tolerance in short supply at the intersection of faith and other important societal values, like non-discrimination and personal autonomy. For example, some people reflexively believe that any response to LGBTQ discrimination is a losing proposition for people of faith. In this winner-takes-all mentality, the rights of some are pitted against the rights of others. What gets lost is mutual respect, civility, and the ability of all people to live with dignity.

It can take courage to engage someone you disagree with. But these are the most important conversations today. We have three choices: we can continue to avoid them and remain in our echo chambers; we can shout each other down, convinced we’re right; or we can approach each other with a spirit of humility, believing that we can grow together toward a better future.

As part of the Tolerance Means Dialogues, undergraduate and graduate students compete for Tolerance Scholarships. Students at the host institutions submit 500 word essays on what tolerance means to them and how their experiences could help forge a better society, summarized in a closing hashtag #ToleranceMeans…. that crystallizes their idea.  The winning essayists will each receive a $750.00 scholarship and take center stage at the Dialogue.

All students who attend can join in by sending questions and comments to @ToleranceMeans.  One question or comment will randomly be selected to receive a Social Engagement Prize of $250.00.

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