The LGBT community at Texas A&M University is gearing up for an open forum Wednesday night to discuss a Student Senate bill designed to cut funding for the school’s GLBT Resource Center.
The GLBT Funding Opt-Out Bill, introduced two weeks ago, would allow students to opt out of funding the campus GLBT Resource Center with their activity fees if they have religious objections. According to The Battallion student newspaper, about $100,000 goes to the GLBT Center annually — or about $2 per student.
The campus group GLBT Aggies says the bill, similar to one introduced two years ago, is discriminatory and amounts to an attack against the LGBT community under the guise of religious freedom. Just as in 2011, a parallel effort is under way in the state Legislature to defund LGBT resource centers on college campuses in Texas.
“As a community dedicated to respecting diversity, we support measures sincerely aimed at protecting the religious beliefs of Texas A&M students, including those of many within the LGBT community,” GLBT Aggies wrote in a news release about the Student Senate bill last week. “However, while SB 65-70 claims to promote religious freedom, we cannot ignore that it only allows students with one religious belief to control how their student fees are used: only religious traditions that disapprove of LGBT interests are given a voice. A bill truly dedicated to allowing religious designation of fees would make the opportunity available to students of all faiths toward whatever policy creates a moral conflict of interest for them. Given the extremely narrow scope of this bill, we can only conclude that its interest lies not in promoting religious freedom but specifically in targeting the LGBT community. Whatever the intentions of the bill may be, its effect is clearly discriminatory.”
The sponsor of the bill, Student Sen. Chris Woolsey, told the Battalion: “There is not a traditional family values center that will promote the opposite of what the GLBT promotes. Since we are funding one of those and not the other one, I believe that student’s should be able to choose whether to pay for it or not.”
GLBT Aggies is encouraging students, former students, community members and allies to address the Student Senate during the forum beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Coincidentally, the forum falls in the middle of GLBT Awareness Week at Texas A&M.
GLBT Aggies is also inviting former students and others in the LGBT community to send letters of support to GLBTaggies@gmail.com. Below are two letters the group has received that were forwarded to Dallas Voice by former GLBT Aggies President Camden Breeding.