SAN ANTONIO -- A highly decorated and openly gay Iraq war combat veteran was booed by a crowd of anti-gay protesters during his speech to the San Antonio City Council meeting Wednesday evening.
Former Marine Staff Sergeant Eric Alva, a San Antonio native- who was the first American service member seriously injured in the Iraq War in March of 2003 when he stepped on a land mine and lost his right leg- was speaking in favor of a proposed addition to the city's nondiscrimination law that would add protections for sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status.
As Alva spoke, many in the crowd of approximately 200 persons in the council chambers began to boo as he delivered his remarks.
Prior to the council session, local pastor and anti-gay rights advocate Charles Flowers led a prayer vigil and demonstration outside City Hall where he told the crowd; “Let them vote ‘no’ to this ordinance, and ‘yes’ to the reign of the kingdom of God."
According to a city clerk Thursday approximately 200 people had signed up to speak at the meeting both arguing for and against the proposed measure.
Alva, who is still a city resident left the podium visibly shaken telling the crowd;
“To all you people that preach the word of God, shame on you because God loves me, like the day I laid bleeding on the sands of Iraq and that’s why he saved me.
To all you people that preach the word of God, shame on you because God loves me, like the day I laid bleeding on the sands of Iraq and that’s why he saved me,” Alva said.
On his Facebook page Alva wrote:
“Well I just left city council chambers and I feel like crying. I have never seen a city so divided and hateful towards each other. All of man kind should be ashamed. I already spoke and even some of the religious groups even boo’ed me as I spoke. Such disrespect as they preach the word of God.”
The San Antonio city clerk's office said that the council is expected to take up the measure for a vote on September 5.
Boston University announces it will offer gender neutral housing
BOSTON -- Boston University announced that BU President Robert A. Brown has approved a "gender neutral" housing option after much support and input came from the student population.
“This is about empowering students to make choices about how they live and giving them a greater measure of control over their college experience,” Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore said in a statement released to the media Tuesday.
"This is really about your choice of who you live with. Your preference about gender and how you perceive it is really not our concern.”
Boston University spokesman Colin Riley told reporters that by adopting the new policy, BU joins at least 90 colleges and universities nationwide. He added that as housing assignments for the Fall 2013 semester have been made and almost all of the affected residences are full, the policy for the gender neutral will likely be fully implemented for the Spring Semester.
According to the BU student housing guidelines on the university's website:
"All residences are eligible for gender-neutral housing with the exception of Claflin, Rich and Sleeper Halls; the Warren Towers complex; The Towers; and Myles Annex.
[...] "Freshmen are not eligible to live in gender-neutral housing, regardless of residence location. Suites and rooms within specialty residences are not eligible to be gender-neutral."
The BU website has a frequently asked questions page regarding the gender neutral housing, including clarifications regarding when and how room assignment will work. The page noted that rooms can only become gender-neutral via "direct swap" and "pull in process" during the upcoming fall semester and no student will be "required to live in a gender-neutral room."
In a 2012 survey conducted by the BU student government, nearly 2,000 students supported gender neutral housing. Approximately 500 students said they would choose the option themselves.
The university's decision has already come under fire from the Massachusetts Family Institute, whose executive vice president, Andrew Beckwith, labeled the action as "ill-advised." Beckwith said;
"We believe this is an ill-advised policy which will have the predictable effect of promoting sexual promiscuity," he said in an interview with The Christian Post.
"Considering the exorbitant increase in the cost of tuition, parents have a right to expect these universities not to expend those resources promoting radical social experiments, but rather on providing an educational environment which facilitates student safety and academic excellence."
University to open new mental health clinic for LGBTQ students, faculty, staff, and surrounding community
|Commons Area, VCU, Richmond Va|
RICHMOND -- A new clinic to offer psychopharmacology services for the LGBTQ community in Central Virginia is slated to open Tuesday, August 20. The Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center at VCU will open a behavioral health medication management clinic, the first in the region established exclusive to the LGBT community to raise awareness and treat the mental-health needs of the community at large according to a VCU spokesperson.
The department collaborated with the VCU Center for Psychological Services and Development, VCU’s Health Collective and the Fan Free Clinic to establish the clinic in response to the lack of psychiatric services and trained staff supporting the LGBT community in central Virginia.
VCU's Department of Psychiatry will operate the clinic, which will be offered the first and third Tuesday of the month at the university's Nelson Clinic in Richmond, Virginia. All new patients will need a referral by a licensed therapist or counselor.
VCU said that for more information or a referral, contact the Department of Psychiatry’s intake line at (804) 828-2000.