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. 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.

    Posted by: Ripped Mittens | Apr 4, 2013 2:39:24 PM

  2. 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.

    Posted by: Molc | Apr 4, 2013 3:09:30 PM

  3. 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?

    Posted by: Tyler | Apr 4, 2013 3:17:55 PM

  4. 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.

    Posted by: Hagatha | Apr 4, 2013 4:23:48 PM

  5. 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??

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 4, 2013 4:26:46 PM

  6. 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.

    Posted by: MateoM | Apr 4, 2013 5:01:16 PM

  7. 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.

    Posted by: mem | Apr 4, 2013 5:07:49 PM

  8. @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)

    Posted by: Sociopath | Apr 4, 2013 6:02:51 PM

  9. 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.

    Posted by: Reality | Apr 4, 2013 9:09:55 PM

  10. 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.

    class of 2003

    Posted by: Meghan | Apr 4, 2013 9:33:02 PM

  11. 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.

    Posted by: GregV | Apr 4, 2013 9:52:22 PM

  12. So a lot of you condemn bigotry by being bigots:


    "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."


    Posted by: tjones | Apr 5, 2013 6:31:49 AM

  13. 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.

    Posted by: FFS | Apr 5, 2013 6:38:57 AM

  14. Texas A&M Student Body President to Veto Bill


    Posted by: Roger | Apr 5, 2013 12:08:56 PM

  15. Bill vetoed.

    Here's a picture of one of the bill's authors, Chris Woolsey, 2nd from left, posing with Rick Perry.


    I think a list should be complied of the Student Senators who voted to support this bill, and their name and faces should be shown to the world, perhaps on a Facebook page, where future employers can research their backgrounds.

    Posted by: Maroon Avenger | Apr 5, 2013 1:23:23 PM

  16. Start with a list of the bill's sponsors:

    Chris Woolsey
    Christopher Russo
    Austin Springer
    Cary Cheshire

    Thomas McNutt--Check out McNutt's major gay-face on Youtube, in an interview with The Battalion regarding his candidacy for student body president. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4ksDYMxli4

    Posted by: Maroon Avenger | Apr 5, 2013 1:42:42 PM

  17. The Student Body President vetoed this stupid thing. Don't hate Texas. In Houston we have a very nice gay mayor, Annise Parker.

    Posted by: Songbird1 | Apr 10, 2013 4:24:47 PM

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