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.
Camden Breeding, an LGBT activist at Texas A&M who is former president of GLBT Aggies, said he expects the TAMU Student Senate will also pass this year’s bill targeting the GLBT Center when it’s voted on in two weeks. However, Breeding said the bill is illegal, because it goes against a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said public universities may subsidize campus groups with mandatory student fees without violating First Amendment rights.
“Basically it’s a way to institutionalize discrimination using the guise of religion,” Breeding said of the bill. “They couldn’t put it into effect because the Supreme Court’s already ruled on it. It’s a hurtful bill. It’s another bill that’s targeting the LGBT community here.”
Breeding said he and other activists are putting together a lobbying team and will speak before the Student Senate’s vote. He said he expects the student body president to veto the bill, but believes the Senate has the two-thirds majority needed to overturn the veto.
“At that point things will start to get more messy, and we’ll start a different tactic,” Breeding said. “But right now we’re just trying to mobilize people and get information out.”
Breeding said after coming under attack in 2011, the school’s LGBT community rallied and was able to get transgender protections added to TAMU’s employment nondiscrimination policy. However, Breeding said things are “back to usual” and there have even been hate crimes against LGBT students of late.
“Hopefully this is the fire that gets lit under people so they get involved,” he said.
A copy of the introduced bill is below.