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

Group backing Sally Kern calls her transgender opponent Brittany Novotny ‘a confused it’

Brittany Novotny

A political action committee that supports Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern sent an e-mail to members this week calling Kern’s transgender opponent, Democrat Brittany Novotny, “a confused it.” The e-mail from the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee, posted on Novotny’s website on Thursday, goes on to say that “Some have suggested that having a sex change operation is a person’s greatest act of rebellion and hatred toward God for His making them what they were.”

“It is truly sad to see people reject God’s love for them by being willing to mutilate themselves,” the OCPAC e-mail states. “If they would submit their life to God, they could find the true the joy in life that will forever elude them while on their path of rebellion. The hatred and rage toward Sally continues unabated in the homosexual community because Sally dared to declare their political agenda for what it truly is, more dangerous to the future of America than the threat of terrorism.”

The OCPAC e-mail comes not long after Kern herself defended the infamous 2008 comment saying homosexuals pose a bigger threat to national security than terrorists.

“Here in America we’ve had what, maybe three known real big terrorist attacks on our nation,” Kern told Fox 25 in Oklahoma City recently. “But every day our young people especially, all of us, but our young people especially are in a sense bombarded with the message that homosexuality is normal and natural.”

OCPAC is the same group that sent out a memo in March 2008 accusing the LGBT community of harassing Kern in response to the 2008 statements.

“It is obvious the agenda of the homosexual community and their liberal friends is to make life hell for Sally Kern, it is becoming the definition of harassment,” OCPAC said in the March 2008 memo. “This is getting ready to backfire upon the homosexuals as this is Oklahoma, not a homosexual infested liberal enclave like some parts of the United States.”

Below is the text of OCPAC’s e-mail this week:

—–Original Message—–
From: ocpacupdate@googlegroups.com [mailto:ocpacupdate@googlegroups.com] On
Behalf Of Charlie Meadows
Sent: Tuesday, September 07, 2010 10:06 AM
To: Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee
Subject: OCPAC e-mail

Members and friends of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action
Committee (OCPAC). …

SALLY KERN’S OPPONENT IN HOLLYWOOD FOR A FUNDRAISER

A week ago Saturday, State Representative Sally Kern’s opponent Brittany Novotny attended a fundraiser on her behalf in the home of Hollywood actor and voice over artist Ben Patrick Johnson. In a group picture I saw, presumably at Johnson’s home in West Hollywood, Brittany was actually smiling right in the middle of what I guess was about 50 likeminded people.

Brittany used to be a “he”, had a sex change operation to make him into a “her” but turned out to become a confused “it.” Some have suggested that having a sex change operation is a person’s greatest act of rebellion and hatred toward God for His making them what they were.

It is truly sad to see people reject God’s love for them by being willing to mutilate themselves. If they would submit their life to God, they could find the true the joy in life that will forever elude them while on their path of rebellion. The hatred and rage toward Sally continues unabated in the homosexual community because Sally dared to declare their political agenda for what it truly is, more dangerous to the future of America than the threat of terrorism.

Brittany has suggested Sally doesn’t represent the values of her constituents. Sally, on the other hand, from the time she first ran for office, told her constituents that she was a Christian and would stand for traditional morality and family values. Aside from the moral issues, Sally is one of the most conservative and well informed lawmakers in the state on a broad range of issues. In November, we will see which set of values the voters in HD 84 care most about. Remember, all elections are first about the quality and character of the voters.

I look forward to seeing everyone this Wednesday.

Charlie Meadows

—  John Wright