Texas A&M cancels Nazi demonstration on campus

COLLEGE STATION — After consultation with law enforcement and considerable study, Texas A&M is cancelling the event scheduled by Preston Wiginton at Rudder Plaza on campus on Sept. 11 because of concerns about the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and the public.

Texas A&M changed its policy after December’s protests so that no outside individual or group could reserve campus facilities without the sponsorship of a university-sanctioned group. None of the 1200-plus campus organizations invited Preston Wiginton nor did they agree to sponsor his events in December 2016 or on Sept. 11 of this year. With no university facilities afforded him, he chose instead to plan his event outdoors for Sept. 11 at Rudder Plaza, in the middle of campus, during a school day, with a notification to the media under the headline “Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M.”

Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus. Additionally, the daylong event would provide disruption to our class schedules and to student, faculty and staff movement (both bus system and pedestrian).

Texas A&M’s support of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech cannot be questioned. On Dec. 6, 2016 the university and law enforcement allowed the same speaker the opportunity to share his views, taking all of the necessary precautions to ensure a peaceful event. However, in this case, circumstances and information relating to the event have changed and the risks of threat to life and safety compel us to cancel the event.

Finally, the thoughts and prayers of Aggies here on campus and around the world are with those individuals affected by the tragedy in Charlottesville.

— From a press release

—  David Taffet

Princeton Review’s 20 most gay-friendly and gay-unfriendly colleges in the U.S.

UDallas

The Princeton Review is out with its gay-friendly and gay-unfriendly schools. SMU remained off the gay-unfriendly list for a second year, but the University of Dallas, Texas A&M and Baylor made the list at No. 10, 11 and 12, respectively. No Texas schools are on the gay-friendly list. View the full lists below.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: TAMU Senate upholds veto of anti-gay bill, kills pro-LGBT resolution

TAMULGBT

UPDATE, 10 p.m.: The Senate has postponed the resolution in support of the GLBT Center, which effectively kills it, according to gay campus activist Camden Breeding. However, the Senate also upheld the veto of the anti-gay bill passed two weeks ago.

ORIGINAL POST: Two weeks after an anti-gay bill passed Texas A&M’s Student Senate to defund the campus GLBT Resource Center, senators are hoping to pass a resolution supporting the center.

The resolution, entitled, “The GLBT Resource Center Support Resolution,” aims to show support for the value of the campus center, as well as support “continued funding for the services that the GLBT Resource Center provides.”

Student Senator Robbie Cimmino said he spearheaded the resolution to show the community that the center is a needed resource that helps students come out, as well as educate them and support them when they come out.

“It isn’t about being gay for us,” Cimmino said. “It’s about being a resource for people who need it.”

He said the anti-gay bill drew 400 students to the Senate meeting and made LGBT students feel targeted. The student body president later vetoed the bill, which would have allowed students to opt out of funding the center with their activity fees if they had religious objections.

“There was a lot of tension and a lot of people felt discriminated against,” he said, adding that many senators who supported the bill for religious reasons didn’t realize the impact it would have on students.

Cimmino said many senators who backed the anti-gay bill will likely back the resolution after seeing the campus response.

“I think people will be genuinely supportive,” he said.

Camden Breeding, former president of the GLBT Aggies, said he also thinks the resolution will gain support when senators vote on it tonight.

“There’s a fair amount of support already,” Breeding said. “I’m hopeful.”

“This is an opportunity to enhance the campus climate for the LGBT community,” he added.

Read the resolution below.

—  Dallasvoice

LGBT Aggie receives death threat; school president releases statement

Texas A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin emailed a statement to students, faculty and staff on Friday addressing controversy this week over an anti-gay Student Senate bill. However, gay campus activist Camden Breeding, former president of the GLBT Aggies, notes that Loftin’s statement fails to include any specific mention of the LGBT community. Breeding also says Loftin’s statement was released because an LGBT Aggie received a death threat. Breeding’s Facebook post, shared with his permission, is followed after the jump by Loftin’s full statement.

Screen shot 2013-04-05 at 3.33.57 PM

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Texas A&M Student Senate passes anti-gay bill in 35-28 vote

imagesAfter three hours of emotional debate, the Texas A&M Student Senate voted 35-28 Wednesday night to approve an anti-gay measure that would allow students to opt out of funding the campus GLBT Resource Center if they have religious objections.

Less than 24 hours before the vote, the name of the bill was changed from the “GLBT Funding Opt Out Bill” to the “The Religious Funding Exemption Bill,” and specific references to the GLBT Resource Center were removed. However, opponents of the bill who packed a Student Senate meeting before the vote Wednesday said the name change did not alter the bill’s discriminatory, anti-gay intent.

With the crowd spilling into the hallways, an overflow viewing room was set up, and the Senate meeting had to be stopped several times so administrators could clear fire exits, according to a report in The Eagle of Bryan-College Station. Emotions ran high, with senators cursing and the woman assigned to tally their votes bursting into tears.

A&M Student Body President John Claybrook says he has not decided whether to veto the measure. The closer-than-expected margin of passage means the Senate may not have the votes to override a veto by Claybrook.

Also last night, the University of Houston Student Government Association unanimously passed a resolution opposing a state budget amendment designed to cut funding for LGBT resource centers on college campuses, according to Daniel Williams of Equality Texas. The anti-gay budget amendment from Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, could be voted on by the House later today.

Stay tuned for updates.

—  John Wright

Texas A&M Student Senate again targets GLBT Resource Center

TAMULGBTIt’s often said that young people overwhelmingly support LGBT equality, but that doesn’t always hold true in Texas, where anti-gay hate is rearing its head on college campuses again this year.

We told you yesterday about some horrific fliers attacking a student body president candidate at the University of Houston-Downtown for his sexual orientation and HIV status.

Meanwhile, just up the road in College Station, a bill was introduced in the Texas A&M Student Senate this week that would allow students to opt out of funding the GLBT Resource Center with their activity fees if they have religious objections.

It’s not the first time the TAMU Student Senate, known for its extreme conservatism, has targeted the school’s GLBT Resource Center.

Two years ago, the A&M Student Senate passed a bill supporting a state budget amendment by Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, that would have required schools with LGBT resource centers to spend an equal amount on centers for “family and traditional values.” The student body president vetoed the bill, and a version of Christian’s amendment was ultimately defeated on the floor of the Texas House.

—  John Wright

Texas A&M fans live up to stereotypes with sexist, anti-gay signs

The above image is from Saturday’s broadcast of ESPN’s College GameDay, which was in College Station for Texas A&M’s Southeastern Conference football debut against Florida. Full disclosure: I’m a Florida alum and a Gator fan, but even from an objective standpoint, could Aggie fans possibly do anything more to live up to stereotypes about conservative, redneck, homophobic, misogynistic Texas? I guess it’s hard when your most famous yell leader is Gov. Rick Perry, who has himself declared political war on gays and women, but aren’t young people supposed to be different on LGBT issues? Also, who won that game again? Oh yeah, my “Gay-tors”!!!

—  John Wright

Aggies join hands to form wall blocking Westboro Baptist Church protesters from alum’s funeral

In an effort of unity and pride, a group of Aggies formed a human wall Thursday to block potential anti-gay hate group protesters from a funeral of one of their own.

The students organized the event after the church announced it would protest former Aggie Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale’s funeral. He was killed during a training exercise at Fort Bragg on June 28.

More than 600 Aggie students lined up in front of Central Baptist Church in Bryan on Thursday afternoon to hide the protesters — who never showed up — from the grieving family, according to BuzzFeed.

As a Texas native, I’ve always been proud of the solidarity the people of Lone Star State display on a daily basis, but actions like this make me truly proud to call Texas my home.

From the event page:

Westboro Baptist Church has announced their intention to protest the funeral of a fallen Ag.

Lt Col. Roy Tisdale

It is proposed that we respond with true Aggie spirit.

In response to their yelling, we will be silent. Like silver taps, like Bonfire Memorial.

In response to their signs of hate, we will wear maroon.

In response to their mob anger, we will form a line, arm in arm.

This is a silent vigil. A manifestation of our solidarity.

We must establish and enforce some ground rules, because Westboro loves pushing their constitutional rights down our throat.

—  Dallasvoice

Texas A&M to end employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression

 R Bowen Loftin

Dr. R Bowen Loftin

Texas A&M University President Dr. R. Bowen Loftin issued a memo January 20th, re-affirming the University’s commitment to non-discrimination in employment. Historically this memo is issued annually and has in recent years included sexual orientation among a list of attributes that have been the historical basis of discrimination and which the university vows not to use to discriminate in employment. This year’s memo is a little special, however. For the first time in the school’s 141 year history, Texas A&M has committed to employment nondiscrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. From the memo:

“… the university has developed an Affirmative Action Program that documents the policies, practices and procedures to support equal treatment for all applicants and employees and assure, in good faith, equal access and affirmative action for women, minorities, individuals with disabilities and veterans at all levels of its workforce. It is our policy to not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, sex, color, national orgin, religion, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by law. Furthermore, we will maintain a work environment free from discrimination of the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

The memo applies only to the employment practices of A&M’s main campus in College Station, not to students or employees at any of the other A&M system campuses. Last month the Texas A&M Student Senate passed a resolution encouraging the university system to adopt a system-wide non-discrimination policy for students, staff and faculty that included sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Student Senator Andrew Jancaric, the driving force behind that resolution, greeted the news of Loftin’s memo excitedly. “President Loftin has shown a great deal of leadership, particurally given the proximidy of this realease to the legislation passed by the Student Senate. Because of that leadership it will make changing that policy at the student level much more easy,” said Jancaric, adding “It’s a really important statement coming from the president of our university, which I believe will have great weight with the system’s board of regents.”

 

—  admin

Texas A&M Student Senate passes resolution supporting trans inclusion in nondiscrimination policy

Andrew Jancaric

Andrew Jancaric

The Texas A&M Student Senate recently passed a resolution supporting the addition of gender identity and expression to the attributes currently covered by that university system’s nondiscrimination policy. The policy already includes sexual orientation.

The action by the Student Senate stands in stark contrast to a resolution passed by the same body last year supporting legislation in the Texas House to defund campus LGBT resource centers, that resolution was later vetoed by the student body president. The nondiscrimination resolution’s author, Andrew Jancaric, says it’s no coincidence that the student senate has done such an about face. “Certain members who supported resolution [to defund LGBT resource centers] are gone,” says Jancaric. “I wasn’t involved in student government until I saw what my representatives, the people who were supposed to be representing me, were trying to do.” He adds that many students were spurred to action by what they saw as a misrepresentation of the Aggie spirit. “We saw what they were doing and thought ‘this is a problem that we have, we need to get involved to change the dialogue.'” According to Jancaric over 90% of the student senators supported his nondiscrimination resolution.

Jancaric is working with allies in the Faculty Senate and Graduate Student Council to pass similar resolutions. He says the next step will be to begin a lobbying campaign with the A&M system Board of Regents and Chancellor, who oversee the statewide A&M university system and its 100,000 students.

Jancaric acknowledges that A&M is not the most LGBT friendly school (last year the Princeton Review ranked it the least friendly public university in the nation for GLBT students). “It’s an institution that’s steeped in it’s traditions as an all male military school. There’s a culture of masculinity. That has been an obstacle towards equality.” At the same time he feels that fighting for LGBT equality at A&M is vital. “I believe that equality needs to happen everywhere,” says Jancaric. “If we leave instiutions like A&M alone in the corner to fester we won’t achieve it.”

—  admin