Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Brody's Notes... Texas Legislative Efforts Working On Killing Off College Campus LGBTQ Centres

Rep. Wayne Christian (R-District 9)
Photo via Texas Insider.org
By Brody Levesque (Washington DC) APR 26 | Conservative lawmakers in the Texas state Texas House of Representatives are pushing a bill that would require Texas universities and colleges to provide equal funding for promoting "family and traditional values." 
Representative Wayne Christian, (R-District 9) sponsored an amendment in a budget provision that passed the House in a 110-24 vote earlier this month. If passed by the senate and signed into law by the governor, the legislation would require any college with an LGBTQ centre to offer the same financial support to establish and fund a "traditional values" center. Currently, nearly all Texas public universities and colleges have campus LGBTQ centres serving queer students. The student run LGBTQ centres sponsor programming, do referrals for those students who need counseling or support groups, and serve as advocates for LGBTQ students on campus.
During the debate over the budget provision, which contained the wording that the amendment would apply to any public colleges with a center "for students focused on gay, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, transsexual, transgender, gender questioning, or other gender identity issues," according to the Dallas Morning News, lawmakers "cracked jokes and guffawed" with one representative asking Christian what "pansexual" means. Christian then urged that lawmaker to visit the centres at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University to find out.
The Young Conservatives of Texas, a conservative GOP oriented group which focuses on Texas college students, worked with Rep. Christian for passage of the budget amendment. The group's senior vice chairman, Tony McDonald, via press release stated:
“When I brought these ideas to Representative Christian and his staff, he immediately recognized the importance of these measures. I would like to thank Representative Christian and his staff for authoring and sponsoring the amendments. We hope that the equal-funding-for-traditional-values amendment will remain a part of the budget as House Bill 1 navigates the Senate and conference committee process”
“It is clear that our public universities are funding centers which promote a radical political and social agenda in favor of normalizing homosexuality and expanding homosexual rights,” added Mr. McDonald. “We thank Representative Christian for exposing these centers and demanding that universities either stop funding them, or equally fund the promotion of traditional values.”
In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, McDonald remarked that students "who want to promote a homosexual lifestyle" can do so "on their own time and with their own money."
"The Texas House of Representatives has passed a budget bill that would require any public college with a student center on "alternative" sexuality to provide equal funding to create new centers to promote "traditional values." He also said that requiring the creation of traditional values centers would "give the left a taste of its own medicine," he said. He charged that these centers "are encouraging folks who consider themselves homosexuals to go on considering themselves as such. That's the point of the centers, and that's not something Texas taxpayers should spend their money on."
Political observers around the capitol in Austin have noted that although the state's Senate has yet to adopt its version of the budget bill, the inclusion of the house measure in the overall budget bill added to the factor of the dominance of social conservatives in Texas politics means that the measure will probably be enacted. Lawmakers supporting the bill have said that they favor only equal time for all kinds of sexuality.
Inside Higher Ed writer Scott Jaschik interviewed supporters of the LGBTQ centres:
While centers in Texas await the outcome of the budget bill, the debate has already accelerated at Texas A&M University, where the leadership of the Student Senate is pushing the university to go on record by saying that it would not increase student fees to create traditional values centers, but would cut the existing Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center in half to finance a new center. In debate over the issue, advocates for traditional values centers said that straight students who may be questioning their sexuality need a center just as much as gay students do. Students said it was important to create "an equal playing field" for those who may disagree with the gay center. Lowell Kane, program coordinator for the gay center at Texas A&M, said that he could not comment on the state legislation. But he said it was hard for him to accept the idea that gay students somehow have it better than their straight counterparts because of the center at Texas A&M or elsewhere. He noted that in various surveys of gay students about how welcoming the university is, Texas A&M does not do well.
"I'm sure there are instances where an individual heterosexual person might feel oppressed," he said, and that's wrong. But it's also not the norm, he added. "What we are talking about is the difference between an individual instance and societal homophobia.""If you walk into any campus classroom or student health services, most of what you find is geared toward a heterosexual population and not a GLBT population," Kane said. Noting the suicide last year of Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University, Kane said, "I have never heard of any student who took their life because their college roommate outed them as being a heterosexual student."And turning to comments from students at Texas A&M, he added, "I have never had a student come up and complain that someone comes up and out of the blue calls them a 'hetero' and slapped them, but that happens to my students, who are called 'dyke' and 'fag.' "


Trab said...

"pushing a bill that would require Texas universities and colleges to provide equal funding for promoting "family and traditional values.""

I always have a problem with "family and traditional values" since it is entirely too ambiguous, and glibly innocuous sounding. Family values, depending on where you search and how far back in history you go, can include forced arranged marriages at barely teenage years, incest, and complete oppression of women. Traditional values is almost worse, since it could even include slavery into the mix.

Sadly, the image raised by those terms tends to be that of Father Know Best and Marcus Welleby,MD. which is NOT what is really meant, and even families in those eras were repressive to a serious degree.