A flier circulated on a Houston college campus this week targeted a student body vice president candidate’s sexual orientation and HIV status.
Kristopher Sharp, a junior social work major at the University of Houston-Downtown, said administrators called him in to meet with them on Tuesday and he learned about the anti-gay flier.
The flier, above, has a picture of him with an X over it below the caption, “WANT AIDS?” and urges students not to support him and his running mate’s “homosexual agenda.”
On the back of the flier is a copy of a medical document from one of Sharp’s recent doctor appointments that contains his home address, phone number and HIV status.
Sharp, 23, said he’s out on campus and is open about his HIV-positive status, having spoken about his experience with the disease at a World AIDS Day event. He said he keeps a folder of medical forms in his student senator desk in the student government office since his doctor is a few blocks from campus. He said he recently noticed forms missing.
Seeing the flier and realizing someone took his forms shocked him.
“I was devastated,” Sharp said. “I knew going into this that there would be some people who wouldn’t support me because of who I am.”
University spokeswoman Claire Caton said the university has launched an investigation.
“First and foremost, UHD prides itself on its diversity,” she said. “Clearly we support all students regardless of gender, sexual orientation, anything.”
Sharp’s been involved in student government for a few years, serving as representative last semester and as a student senator this semester. Last semester he helped get LGBT protections added to the university’s nondiscrimination policy. And part of his platform for vice president is getting an LGBT resource center for the campus, which is why he thinks the flier mentions a “homosexual agenda.”
This isn’t the first time Sharp has faced adversity on the campus. A few years ago his political science class was discussing same-sex marriage and someone called him a faggot. His professor didn’t address it, so he spoke to Tommy Thomason, dean of students, but nothing was done, he said.
He also spoke to Thomason about the flier incident, but was told the university likely wouldn’t find who was responsible and the flier couldn’t be considered hate speech since AIDS and homosexual are “proper words.”
While students have been outraged by the flier, he said some people have told his running mate that they won’t vote for them because Sharp is gay.
“I wasn’t expecting these kind of attacks,” Sharp said. “I wouldn’t have thought the homophobia was this prominent on campus until I saw the flier.”