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.

Comments

  1. disgusted american says

    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

    I HATE TEXAS!

  2. mike/ says

    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…

  3. e.c. says

    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.

  4. woodroad34 says

    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?

  5. Jack M says

    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?

  6. RMc says

    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.

  7. Nigel says

    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.

  8. JT says

    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”.

  9. Two Percenter says

    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.

  10. says

    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?

  11. jamal49 says

    @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?

  12. Rob F says

    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:

    senate.tamu.edu/contact

  13. Steve says

    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.

  14. terry says

    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.

  15. Ryan says

    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.

  16. Stephen says

    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.

  17. Two Percenter says

    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.

  18. Ripped Mittens says

    Can sensitive students opt out of funding college football or boxing? It has been thought to cause brain damage later in life, especially for young adults.

  19. Molc says

    It’s Texas. Red necked halfwit country and no amount of university is going to change these imbeciles. Feel very sorry for the GLBT students who have to deal with this crap on a daily basis.

  20. Tyler says

    Well, since this is done by Southern Christians, can I ask what their response would be if this opened the floodgates and ultra-conservative Muslims flocked to this school in order to take advantage of a religiously-protected freedom to discriminate and hate?

    Or is this just about protections against the gays, and not any other chosen group your chosen religion chooses to hate on?

  21. Hagatha says

    I never did like paying the “student activity fee” at The University of Maryland. I wasn’t a rah-rah type, couldn’t care less about the sports and clubs and movies at the Student Union. I didn’t even live on campus because I didn’t see the cachet of sharing a concrete cell with one or two strangers. I really just wanted to get my degree and get out.

  22. Rick says

    Today, I am disappointed to call myself an Aggie… At a time when the country, and the world for that matter, is trying to make advances in equality, the Texas A&M Student Body does this??

  23. MateoM says

    Of course Rick is an aggie. This makes so much sense. A self loathing, anti-fem, and misogynist would have gotten his higher education in Texas.

  24. mem says

    As a parent I am sick and tired of all the fees!!! If you want to have a club that embraces your cultural heritage, or religion, or lifestyle, then you should fund it. I understand that this fee for this specific group is small, but all the “small” fees add up.

  25. Sociopath says

    @MEM: Same thing for the University Police Department? I don’t break the law, and I have never had anything stolen. So I’ve never really had any use for these rent-a-cops. In fact, they kind of annoy me when they keep me from parking where I want. I really don’t think I should be obligated to fund a university organization that I have never had to use, and which actually works against my interests at times.

    Feel free to apply the same analysis to:

    Student Rec Center (I can run on the street)
    Student Health Center (Never been sick)
    Student Union (Never use it)
    University Career Center (Will work for dad)
    Performing Arts Center (Hate ballet/theater)
    The University chapel (Atheist)
    Univ. counseling services (Mentally strong)
    Rape crisis counseling (Never been raped)
    New parking lots (Ride a bike)
    University Computing Centr (Have own laptop)

  26. Reality says

    I’m really disgusted right now. I really hope John Claybrook vetoes this mess. If he doesnt, his name will FOREVER be tied to this anti-gay act on the internet and it will not go over well for getting jobs later in life. Trust me, I run high security background checks – – this kind of press is a no-no.

  27. Meghan says

    So…yeah. This is NOT what being an Aggie is about. I’m ashamed and embarrassed of my alma matter today. Please know that many, if not most, Aggies do not share the views of these small-minded, uniformed, child-senators. I, for one, am a full supporter of the LGBQ community and in no way condone this behavior. I am making my feelings known to the administration as well. So, for what it’s worth, you have my apologies.

    Meghan
    class of 2003

  28. GregV says

    I would suggest that students who “religiously object” to the hateful intent of this very bill organize an effort to “religiously exempt” themselves from fees going to ALL school organizations EXCEPT the club that was targeted.

  29. tjones says

    So a lot of you condemn bigotry by being bigots:

    “I HATE TEXAS”

    “It’s Texas. Red necked halfwit country and no amount of university is going to change these imbeciles.”

    “A self loathing, anti-fem, and misogynist would have gotten his higher education in Texas.”

    WHAT A BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES!

  30. FFS says

    The only thing that surprises me about this article is that the Young Conservatives of Texas (read: most influential student org on campus) weren’t out in full force at this session with their “Satan is a Flamer!” placards and staging Man-Marries-Bicycle protests.

    You’d think the student senate would have developed some fiscal opprobrium when it was discovered that the university’s vice-president (a personal friend of Governor Good Hair) was drawing $300k/yr in salary without having ever so much as completed a Bachelor’s degree.

    But, no. Gotta show them gays!

    And . . . of course, Rick would be an Aggie. Figures. I may lose sleep over the distressing revelation that we actually have something in common.

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