Van Zandt County Republican wants Ten Commandments back in Texas classrooms

Rep. Dan Flynn

Tis the season for prefiling bills for the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature, and Van Republican Dan Flynn has filed a measure that would allow teachers in Texas public schools to post copies of The 10 Commandments on their classroom walls. (For those of you who don’t know, Van is a very small little town about 70 miles east Dallas on I-20. It is in Van Zandt County, for which Canton is the county seat. I worked there years and years ago as editor of the town’s weekly newspaper, The Van Progress.)

Flynn’s bill says that school board trustees may not stop copies of the commandments from being posted in “prominent” locations in classrooms, according to a story in the Sunday issue of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Flynn also says the measure is a “patriotic exercise” intended to teach students about history and principles.

(Funny, I see it as an unconstititutional effort to impose specific religious views.)

Flynn told the Star-Telegram:

“This is necessary to protect teachers who have the desire to establish that the country’s historical background is based on Judeo-Christian traditions. This might be a reassuring step to the people that we are wanting to maintain and hold on to those historical findings of how our country was founded. And anything that helps build the morals of our young people would be helpful. For too long, we’ve forsaken what our Judeo-Christian heritage has been. Our rights do come from God, not from government.”

Oh, and Flynn was apparently distressed that school officials are not allowed to publicly pray for students athletes before school sports events.

Of course, there have been numerous court cases involving the Ten Commandments on public property and in government buildings. And a in a lot of those cases, the courts have said it isn’t allowed. Although, as the Star-Telegram notes, there was a case just five years ago in which the Supreme Court said a granite monument with the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas Capitol is not unconstitutional because it didn’t mean that Texas government officials were promoting religion.

Flynn said his bill has gotten support among conservatives, but acknowledges that if it passes the Legislature it is likely to face legal challenges.

—  admin

New GSA is opening doors — and minds — at Navarro College

Members of P.R.I.S.M. say new group is being well-received by administration, most classmates

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

LEADING THE WAY  |  Officers of P.R.I.S.M., the new gay-straight alliance at Navarro College in Corsicana, meet each Tuesday. Officers are, back row from left, Kristen Joyner, assistant historian; Mauricio Palacios, treasurer; Max Tucker, prime historian; Chasidy Merida, public relations chair, and Jessica Martinez, secretary; and front row from left, Juan Tenorio, president; Brandi Collard, faculty sponsor, and Micheal Dickens, spiritual advisor.
LEADING THE WAY | Officers of P.R.I.S.M., the new gay-straight alliance at Navarro College in Corsicana, meet each Tuesday. Officers are, back row from left, Kristen Joyner, assistant historian; Mauricio Palacios, treasurer; Max Tucker, prime historian; Chasidy Merida, public relations chair, and Jessica Martinez, secretary; and front row from left, Juan Tenorio, president; Brandi Collard, faculty sponsor, and Micheal Dickens, spiritual advisor.

Think of Corsicana, Texas, the county seat of Navarro County located about 55 miles south of Dallas on I-45, and “liberal enclave” isn’t likely to be the first description that comes to mind.

The town of about 25,000 is known as home of the Collin Street Bakery, famous around the country for its fruitcakes. But Corsicana is also home to the main campus of Navarro College, which now has what its members call the first gay-straight alliance to be formed — and recognized as an official campus organization — at a Texas community college.

Members of the group and faculty advisor Brandi Collard recently answered a few questions about the alliance for Dallas Voice.

Dallas Voice: Who came up with the idea of starting a gay-straight alliance at Navarro College? What is it called?

P.R.I.S.M.: Our GSA was truly a collaborative idea, and several people were instrumental in starting the group. The organization is called P.R.I.S.M., which stands for Promoting Respect In Sexual Minorities.

DV: Why did the group start? Was there a specific event, or series of events that led to it being started?

P.R.I.S.M.: We started the group because we wanted to form an organization that would provide support for LGBT students and cultivate lasting positive relations between the LGBT and straight communities. No specific event or series of events triggered the formation of the club.

DV: When was P.R.I.S.M. started?

P.R.I.S.M.: We began developing the framework for the group in late August of this year. We became an official campus organization on Sept. 20.

DV: Have you encountered any opposition from administrators? From other students? From the community around the college?

P.R.I.S.M.: We have received nothing but support from the administration. We have had a few cases of individualized harassment of P.R.I.S.M. members by other students, but nothing our members haven’t been able to handle on their own. The community response has been mostly positive so far.

DV: How has the school administration helped or hurt in forming the group?

P.R.I.S.M.: We have been treated exactly the same as any other organization — with fairness and equality.

DV: How many members are in P.R.I.S.M. and how often do you meet?

P.R.I.S.M.: We currently have 40 members, and we’re still growing. The club meets every Thursday afternoon, with an additional meeting on Tuesday just for officers and our advisor.

DV: What kind of activities have you done already?

P.R.I.S.M.: We had a booth at the Club Fair on campus where we signed up new members and handed out rainbow awareness ribbons and bags of Skittles with our meeting info on them. The members are currently selling candy bars as a fundraiser.

DV: What kind of activities do you have planned?

P.R.I.S.M.: We have a “Partners with You” night planned at the Cotton Patch Café. The restaurant will donate 10 percent of participating patrons’ total bills to the group. We’ll also have a booth at the Navarro College Homecoming post-game festivities. Our biggest event so far is a “Science Fiction Double Feature” at the end of October. We have an opportunity to volunteer with a pet adoption event for the local animal shelter in November. We will also be participating in Phi Theta Kappa’s holiday food drive, and we’re planning a holiday bake sale near the end of the semester.

DV: What can people in the LGBT community outside Navarro College do to support your organization?

P.R.I.S.M.: People can help us a lot by contributing to our fundraisers and supporting our events. We’re also looking for guest speakers to inspire and encourage the members of the club.

DV: What else do people need to know about the GSA?

P.R.I.S.M.: We at P.R.I.S.M. want to emphasize that we are an alliance. There is a misconception on campus that we are simply a “gay club,” but we’re so much more. We’re a group that promotes awareness, respect, and unity for all.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 22, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas