The U.S. is known for having an open and accepting culture. We pride ourselves on our diversity and the range of opportunities available for all people. Everyone has the right to free speech and their ideas. However, many people in the U.S. have differing opinions on certain important topics in our society.
While in the U.S., we would encourage you to learn more about the issues that Americans are currently debating. You will notice there are different groups of people who have passionate opinions on both sides of issues such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) rights, the economy and taxes, abortion, health care, contraception, separation of church and state, and many others. It is important to try to understand both sides of sensitive issues and always be respectful of individuals whose beliefs are different from your own.
You may find that many Americans are not comfortable discussing their ideas about some topics. Many prefer to keep their opinions to themselves to protect their privacy and to avoid making friends or colleagues uncomfortable if they hold differing views. Other individuals will speak very openly about their views and opinions, some of which may differ from your own. Before you discuss issues regarding politics, religion, or sexuality, you should make sure that you have a good relationship with the other person or people with whom you are talking. It is better to debate with people you know well and with whom you can have a mutually respectful conversation and avoid asking strangers their opinions on sensitive topics, as it may offend them.
The key to any debate is respect. Make sure you try to understand other’s arguments and points of view. They may have a different background or experience that has formed their thoughts and so have reached a conclusion with which you may disagree. However, they have a right to those ideas. In the United States, it is not acceptable to harass or insult anyone based on their political, social, or religious persuasions. While friendly debate is encouraged, maintain a respectful environment when doing so. If you can do that, you can thoughtfully participate in conversations regarding sensitive topics during your time in America.