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Fighting for straight rights in a terrifyingly queer world

April 25, 2011, 3:00 pm

“We have trouble, 
right here in River City. 
With a capital T 
that rhymes with G 
that stands for Gay…
We’ve surely got trouble!
Right here in River City,
Gotta figger out a way
To keep the young ones 
moral in that school!”
–with apologies to Meredith Wilson

Whenever we queers fear that we lack power or falter in obtaining anything close to equal rights, we should take heart that the Texas Republican Party is intimidated by our extensive power base and our cultural and social influence. 

Certain that hetero rights are under assault in colleges and universities near them (namely the always weird University of Texas at Austin and, um, Texas A&M?), legislators in the Texas House have passed a budget provision proposed by Rep. Wayne Christian “requiring state colleges and universities, if they use state funds to support ‘a gender and sexuality center,’ to spend an equal amount on a center promoting ‘family and traditional values.’” The current centers under attack at U of T and Texas A&M are created “for students focused on gay, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, transsexual, transgender, gender questioning, or other gender identity issues.” After a “serious” discussion of the issues, including a discussion of the definition of pansexuality that required the Representative to apologize to the women in the gallery, the need for such a provision was clear, and it passed with a 110-24 vote.

Tony McDonald, a leader in the Texas Young Conservatives, notes that they helped craft this provision, the one of two proposed that was actually adopted, to ultimately defund these centers. “The traditional values center measure, said McDonald, is not merely about creating family and traditional values centers, but is a “clever way” to work around directly defunding taxpayer-supported gender and sexuality centers that are accepting of homosexuality.”

Now, of course, the UT Gender and Sexuality Center, that locus of power, has only three FT staff and some student assistants (who make a whopping $8/hr.), which tells you something about the power and capability of women and queers… With only this small staff, they are able to oppress and undermine the heterosexuality of the (mostly heterosexual) 24,000 faculty and staff and more than 50,000 students. A&M has almost 47,000 students to brainwash, and only one FT staff member to do it! They do have a Christian Faculty organization at A&M, so at least that angle is covered, to balance the advocacy of the GLBT Professional Network of faculty and staff on campus.  And the 35+ Christian student groups on campus, many of which are conservative in theology, can probably provide some of the much needed support to ward off the pervasive influence of the GLBT center on campus.

Lest anyone believe that the brainwashing has been completely successful with students, the A&M Student Senate approved a measure to support the passage of the Texas budget provision and require the university to use existing funds for the campus GLBT Center to support the establishment of the family and traditional values center on campus.

Having to hear about or acknowledge the rights of LGBT people to exist and be treated with respect and dignity is not only an affront to heterosexual Christians, it is disabling and oppressive in nature. Of course, the experiences of LGBT students, faculty, and staff–having to spend all of our lives hearing mostly traditionalist Christian, heterosexual examples, morals, and values in our textbooks, our classrooms, our media, and our lives; being taunted, shamed, and assaulted because of our identities; and not having access to many rights and protections offered to our heterosexual neighbors–is not a problem, because that is the way (their) God intended it. How nice these conservative Christians, who were characterized as “underrepresented” by the Student Senator at A&M, can have some protective legislation enacted to make sure they don’t feel any discomfort. They clearly are not as strong as one might think.

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