Discrimination | Education | Texas

Texas A&M Student Senate Passes Measure Allowing Religion-Based Discrimination Against Campus GLBT Center

The Texas A&M Student Senate last night voted 35-28 in favor of a measure allowing students to opt out of funding the campus GLBT Resource Center if they have religious objections, the Dallas Voice reports:

ClaybrookLess than 24 hours before the vote, the name of the bill was changed from the “GLBT Funding Opt Out Bill” to the “The Religious Funding Exemption Bill,” and specific references to the GLBT Resource Center were removed. However, opponents of the bill who packed a Student Senate meeting before the vote Wednesday said the name change did not alter the bill’s discriminatory, anti-gay intent.

With the crowd spilling into the hallways, an overflow viewing room was set up, and the Senate meeting had to be stopped several times so administrators could clear fire exits, according to a report in The Eagle of Bryan-College Station. Emotions ran high, with senators cursing and the woman assigned to tally their votes bursting into tears.

KBTX reports on the contentious meeting and has a long piece on the history of the bill:

According to a university spokesman, the GLBT Resource Center receives about $100,000 a year in funding provided by student fees, averaging out to a contribution of around $2 per student.

GLBT Aggies President Kimberly Villa says the center provides a "safe space" for those students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, and that a vote in any way to strategically divert funding would hurt a population which has experienced a history of discrimination on the Texas A&M Campus. The center provides reference materials, counseling support, and programming concerning GLBT health and awareness issues.

The "Religious Funding Exemption Bill" was originally written by a student who felt morally and religiously opposed to paying fees that go towards the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Resource Center on campus.

A&M Student Body President John Claybrook (who took the inset photo that was published by kbtx) has the option to veto the measure but has not said if he will.

(image kbtx)

UPDATE: Zack Ford at Think Progress makes note of this even more heinous development:

Though it’s unclear this student-led attack on LGBT Aggies is enforceable, the state legislature is considering a broader change that very well could. Texas Rep. Bill Zedler (R) has filed an amendment to the state’s appropriations bill to cut funding for public universities that have “Gender and Sexuality Centers and Related Student Centers.” The amendment offensively claims that the centers promote behaviors that have a high risk for disease:

An institution of higher education may not use money appropriated to the institution under this Act, or any property or facility of the institution funded by appropriations under this Act, to support, promote, or encourage any behavior that would lead to high risk behavior for AIDS, HIV, Hepatitis B, or any sexually transmitted disease.

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  1. An institution of higher education may not use money appropriated to the institution under this Act, or any property or facility of the institution funded by appropriations under this Act, to support, promote, or encourage any behavior that would lead to high risk behavior for AIDS, HIV, Hepatitis B, or any sexually transmitted disease.

    so basically - any sex - hetero or gay then


    Posted by: disgusted american | Apr 4, 2013 11:27:16 AM

  2. and then ALL student groups at universities in Texass have to be closed down, because they ALL 'support, promote, or encourage any behavior that would lead to high risk behavior for AIDS, HIV, Hepatitis B, or any sexually transmitted disease."

    that's what college groups are instituted for - even the xtianist ones. actually, they are the worst because they are hypocrites...

    Posted by: mike/ | Apr 4, 2013 11:30:15 AM

  3. Do any of these brainiacs realize that once you start letting students designate what their individual fees can and cannot be used for on "moral" grounds you're going to have to let them approve ALL the expenditures. Enjoy trying to make a budget when you're needing every nickel and dime approved by every student.

    Posted by: e.c. | Apr 4, 2013 11:33:51 AM

  4. I'm assuming if one objects to giving on-campus religious organizations money, they can opt out as well? Or is religion the first among rights?

    Posted by: woodroad34 | Apr 4, 2013 11:33:59 AM

  5. But all the straight students are screwing like bunnies, and that's OK.

    It looks as though the main preoccupation of the 21st century will be legislating morality. What next, another civil war over morality?

    Posted by: Jack M | Apr 4, 2013 11:37:06 AM

  6. This Aggie is very ashamed of his Alma Mater right now.

    Posted by: AggieCowboy | Apr 4, 2013 11:38:10 AM

  7. The homophobia at black colleges is out of control.

    oh wait...

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Apr 4, 2013 11:39:43 AM

  8. Give the whole damn sate of Texas back to Mexico. It will not be missed.

    Posted by: Bubba | Apr 4, 2013 11:56:09 AM

  9. Then I am sure TexASS is going to stop taxing LGBT people, their friends and family right? Oh wait, our money is important but not us.

    Posted by: RMc | Apr 4, 2013 11:57:42 AM

  10. Also, are they going to allow LGBT students to stop funding clubs or centers they do agree with? Oh wait, no t hey are not. More vidence that the heterosexist religious-reich wants LGBT people to be their slaves.

    Posted by: RMc | Apr 4, 2013 11:59:24 AM

  11. If students can opt out of one group they should be able to opt out of any or all groups. Maybe better have the students opt in to groups they want to fund. When they write their tuition checks, they could be asked if they want to pay more for funding student groups. And then one step further your tuition should only go to the part of the university that has anything to do with your field of study. Why should I subsidize a major or minor that is not part of my degree.

    Posted by: Nigel | Apr 4, 2013 12:05:07 PM

  12. How embarrassing for the students that go there that are pro-equality. Can I, as an Atheist, refuse my student fees to any religious organization. I'd pay the same, just give all my religious fee money over to the GLBT organizations instead. I'll send you a list of all the organizations that "offend me on moral grounds".

    Posted by: JT | Apr 4, 2013 12:06:31 PM

  13. Shameful! Especially at institution of higher learning. Texas is nothing more than the sewer of the US.

    Posted by: RK | Apr 4, 2013 12:08:39 PM

  14. That's actually some good news and some bad news about the Student Senate vote at TAMU. I'm somewhat surprised that 28 Student Senators would be so progressive as to vote against it.

    I graduated from there back in the 80s, and back then it was basically one big holding pen for kinda smart kids from small towns who had aspirations to become educated, but didn't have enough ambition to go to an academically elite school. It also drew the most conservative kids from Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio who weren't wealthy enough to go to an Ivy. There were nearly no African-Americans; the only Black students were international students. And the animus toward gays & lesbians was so thick that it was barely safe for them to speak out or have a campus presence. So the mere fact that LGBT students can organize represents progress.

    Still, there is a considerable strain (stain?) of small-town, ultra-conservative redneck narrow-mindedness that predominates on campus, and indeed throughout the whole state.

    No way in hell I'd send my adopted son and daughter there.

    Posted by: Two Percenter | Apr 4, 2013 12:15:39 PM

  15. As others have said, if they want to go this stupid route, then why should "religious" objections be privileged? (Well, we know why they think they should but...) Every student should have an equal opportunity to opt out of funding anything at Texas A&M that doesn't fit within their own personal moral compass. Wouldn't that be a lovely can of worms?

    Posted by: Ernie | Apr 4, 2013 12:17:57 PM

  16. @Bubba, Mexico would take Texas back in a heartbeat, but you'd have to get rid of the Texans first.

    So, anyone, correct me if I'm wrong, but arent' the actions of Texas A&M a classic, textbook case of discrimination?

    Posted by: jamal49 | Apr 4, 2013 12:20:13 PM

  17. I never thought I would be so ashamed to be an Aggie.

    Here is the link to "congratulate" the student senate on shaming The University:


    Posted by: Rob F | Apr 4, 2013 12:26:47 PM

  18. Justice John Roberts, take note. THIS is how the majority of gays and lesbians are treated in society today.

    Posted by: Boone68 | Apr 4, 2013 12:36:36 PM

  19. The federal government and the Department of Education need to start looking into these institutions and their discriminatory policies. Our tax dollars help provide millions in federal financial aid dollars to these schools in the form of loans and grants from year to year. Perhaps it's time to start withholding this type of funding to schools who openly practice discrimination in their policies.

    Posted by: Steve | Apr 4, 2013 12:38:15 PM

  20. Why bother reporting this? It's not news or a surprise. It's fuckng Texas, the state that competes only with Alabama for ignorance. You can't be too stupid in Texas and not reach the top. I have no sympathy for anyone in the state who has chosen to go or stay there. Their American Taliban ethics are no secret.

    Posted by: terry | Apr 4, 2013 12:41:00 PM

  21. Can students obt out of funding the religious center and/clubs if the have 'religious' exceptions?

    And it's time for the glbt center or some of its users to file a lawsuit. I have a strong feeling their student senate's action won't hold up in court.

    Posted by: Ryan | Apr 4, 2013 1:10:28 PM

  22. Not surprising at all. I went to A&M in the late 70s. Immediately following a small foray into gay rights by a (nonsanctioned) campus group there soon appeared bumper stickers bearing the official school logo with the slogan "No Queers Here".
    I opted for a more liberal education and life and California and never looked back.

    Posted by: Stephen | Apr 4, 2013 1:35:13 PM

  23. I have religious objections to paying tuition.

    I still get to go to college, right?

    Posted by: Rrhain | Apr 4, 2013 1:39:04 PM

  24. Important point to note from the linked article that's left out of Towle's summary:

    "...As far as the impact of the "Religious Funding Exemption Bill," Texas A&M officials say "any action the Student Senate takes is non-binding and advisory in nature," and as such, there is no immediate consequence of the bill's approval. "

    Also, there is a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling from 1984 (involving TAMU) which obligates the university to recognize Gay Students Services as an official student organization.

    So while the xtianists' anti-gay animus is evident, it's unlikely to affect the gay student organization's funding.

    Posted by: Two Percenter | Apr 4, 2013 2:05:48 PM

  25. Very blatant discrimination. Can studenst refuse to give funds to any religious organization on campus? Probably not.

    Posted by: MuscleModelBlog.com | Apr 4, 2013 2:18:37 PM

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