This board has mixed feelings about trigger warnings — some find them useful, some say they violate free speech. After some discussion, though, we think we agree on a couple of things.
First, we agree that there are people who suffer from trauma and PTSD whose mental health should be treated with consideration. Everyone from returning veterans to survivors of domestic violence can experience visceral flashbacks to the events of their trauma in a debilitating way. All sorts of things can trigger these memories and flashbacks. Content warnings should be used wherever possible, although it would be unreasonable to expect that any professor could account for all the sources of trauma.
Second, we think that if trigger warnings function as they should, they won’t ever stop conversations. Flagging potentially triggering topics means that only those who will choose to step out of the classroom (for medical reasons surrounding their mental health) can do so. We would never want to stop these important topics from being discussed in the first place.
Warnings work best if everyone takes them seriously. People with severe PTSD don’t want to rely on content warnings to ensure their health — they have to. As such, joking about trigger warnings really can devalue them. That being said, only those who really need to step out of the conversation should. Some intellectually challenging topics covered in school will make students feel uncomfortable, as they should.
Still, those who need to make use of warnings should not feel pressure otherwise — they need to first focus on their own mental health.