The student senate at Texas A&M University voted Wednesday night to allow students to opt-out of having their activities fees fun the campus LGBT center.
The measure, which passed 35-28, was originally called the “GLBT Funding Opt Out Bill” but was rechristened as the less-bigoted sounding “Religious Funding Exemption Bill.”
A quick perusal of the TAMU website reveals more than a dozen student groups with a decided religious bent, including the A&M Baha’i Club, Freshmen Leaders In Christ, Reach Collegiate Ministries and a campus Hillel.
Can students opt out of allowing those groups to use campus funds, resources or venues?
The vote itself was an emotional event, The Eagle reports, as “some senators cursed, and some students stormed out. The woman tallying the senators’ decision started crying as the votes were cast.”
Student Aaron Ackerman defended the bill, saying forcing students to pay for a gay center was tantamount to forcing doctors to perform abortions. “I just want to show how dangerous a philosophy is that some organization, government or otherwise, can make a person do what is against their most deeply held beliefs,” said Ackerman.
Lets hope he’s not pre-law.
TAMU has repeatedly been ranked among the least gay-friendly universities in America by the Princeton Review and Campus Pride. In 1976, the school denied recognition of a campus LGBT group, forcing students to to file a lawsuit. Their eventual victory resulted in the removal of all legal restrictions against gay-rights groups on college campuses.
A&M Student Body President John Claybrook hasn’t announced whether or not he will attempt to veto the current discriminatory measure. “I don’t wish students to be disenfranchised with this or anything that this body does, because these are students who have a home here and who are cared about by thousands and thousands of students,” he said. “The actions by a few should not make them feel like this is not their home.”
Things are bleak for campus LGBT groups in the Lone Star State: Rep. Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) has tacked on an amendment to a general appropriations bill that would defund any school with a dedicated LGBT resources center. That measure could be voted on today, but the University of Houston Student Government Association has already unanimously passed a resolution opposing it.
Photo: GLBT Aggies Facebook page