An amendment to the Texas Legislature’s general appropriations bill, SB1, would defund gender and LGBT resource centers on the basis that they encourage risky sexual behavior.
State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, filed the amendment to cut state funding from universities that have “Gender and Sexuality Centers and Related Student Center[s].” The amendment argues that “to support, promote, or encourage any behavior that would lead to high risk behavior for AIDS, HIV, Hepatitis B, or any sexually transmitted disease.”
A representative from Zedler’s office did not return calls seeking comment.
An amendment to defund and prevent universities from housing LGBT resource centers on campus last session was filed by former state Rep. Wayne Christian. He eventually withdrew the amendment after Democrats threatened to derail the bill it was attached to.
Daniel Williams, field organizer for Equality Texas, said that while the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M and the University of Houston have dedicated offices for their LGBT resources centers, the amendment could also affect the LGBT program at the University of Texas at Arlington, as well as women’s centers at several universities.
In related news, the Texas A&M Student Senate may vote this week on a measure that would allow students to opt out of funding the GLBT Resource Center with their activity fees if they have religious objections.
Williams said Zedler’s reasoning for filing amendment on the grounds that centers would encourage unsafe sexual behavior is unfounded and hopes the LGBT community contacts representatives to stop the amendment from moving forward. (CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE)
“If the community mobilizes and lets the 150 members of the Texas House know that this amendment is hurtful and represents antiquated stereotypes that belong in a bygone era, we can beat it,” he said.
The amendment could be voted on as early as Thursday.
Equality Texas has endorsed eight budget amendments from lawmakers that would collect data on LGBT bullying and suicide risk, as well as reinstate Planned Parenthood in the Women’s Heath Program and study the cost of litigation the Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office has spent defending laws that include anti-gay bias.
See the amendments below.