Texas Colleges To Subvert Homogay Club Agenda With “Traditional Values” Resource Centers

I’m making assumptions here, but I think it’s safe to say that the “GLBTA Resource Center” has become a staple for many college-bound queers: a place for baby gays to gather and eat candy, or free food, and read books and brochures that won’t cause confusion or self-loathing. This is pretty traditional, although some may also include pins, helpful and kind people, and/or a door that shuts for privacy, for when you’re having a breakdown about going home for Thanksgiving.

this could be the staff of your glbta resource center

Some public colleges in Texas have these so-called “centers,” but the government isn’t too happy about it. The Texas House of Representatives recently went over their budget, and as we all know, budget is interpreted as some lawmakers as American Legal Language for “place where we store subversive funds that undermine the fabric of our nation.”

The Texas state budget battle centered not on Planned Parenthood or National Public Radio, but instead: on sexuality centers. And lawmakers there are using the budget bill to force publicly funded colleges in the state to create “Traditional Values Resource Centers” if they have an existing GLBTA Center, or anything like it, or if they plan on building one ever. And what would a TVC even be? Well, obviously, they would encourage heteromance and give advice on weddings and chastity. Exactly what college kids love – and need!

The saddest part? Well, the language passed the house 144-21. And it looks like, judging from the current landscape of Texas politics, that the Senate may jump on this cruise ship and ride it straight to Traditiontown.

And as if this wasn’t terrifying enough, the underlying issue is even greater: the impact of the legislation is not really expected to be the construction of any Traditional Values Resource Centers. The actual intention is for public colleges to weigh their options and decide to eliminate any sexuality centers at all. And what’s even worse (no, it does get worse) is that this predicted outcome seems about as possible as the aforementioned cruise:

While centers in Texas await the outcome of the budget bill, the debate has already accelerated at Texas A&M University, where the leadership of the Student Senate is pushing the university to go on record by saying that it would not increase student fees to create traditional values centers, but would cut the existing Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center in half to finance a new center. In debate over the issue, advocates for traditional values centers said that straight students who may be questioning their sexuality need a center just as much as gay students do. Students said it was important to create “an equal playing field” for those who may disagree with the gay center. (The discussion may be viewed here, starting about 1 hour and 45 minutes into the meeting.)

The amendment did stir some controversy though, even if it passed overwhelmingly. Within the House, Representatives argued over a few related issues, including but not limited to: “but what if straight people feel awkward on campus and like their homophobia makes them an other?” and “aren’t straight people the ones being oppressed if they have no center?!” Representatives from Texas public colleges also spoke out:

Lowell Kane, program coordinator for the gay center at Texas A&M, said that he could not comment on the state legislation. But he said it was hard for him to accept the idea that gay students somehow have it better than their straight counterparts because of the center at Texas A&M or elsewhere. He noted that in various surveys of gay students about how welcoming the university is, Texas A&M does not do well.

“I’m sure there are instances where an individual heterosexual person might feel oppressed,” he said, and that’s wrong. But it’s also not the norm, he added. “What we are talking about is the difference between an individual instance and societal homophobia.”

“If you walk into any campus classroom or student health services, most of what you find is geared toward a heterosexual population and not a GLBT population,” Kane said. Noting the suicide last year of Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University, Kane said, “I have never heard of any student who took their life because their college roommate outed them as being a heterosexual student.”

And turning to comments from students at Texas A&M, he added, “I have never had a student come up and complain that someone comes up and out of the blue calls them a ‘hetero’ and slapped them, but that happens to my students, who are called ‘dyke’ and ‘fag.’ “

I’ve said it before and again and again but really, if you live in Texas I am here.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

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66 Comments

  1. So glad I could pass this article on to Laneia because this is beyond messed up:

    “McDonald [Senior Vice Chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas] said that he doesn’t believe universities should be funding centers on any sexuality or values — traditional or otherwise. He said that students ‘who want to promote a homosexual lifestyle” can do so “on their own time and with their own money.’

    Requiring the creation of traditional values centers would ‘give the left a taste of its own medicine,” he said. He charged that these centers “are encouraging folks who consider themselves homosexuals to go on considering themselves as such. That’s the point of the centers, and that’s not something Texas taxpayers should spend their money on.'”

    WTF TEXAS

    • I just don’t think that if a straight student went to an GLBTA center anyone would try and “make them gay”. If kids are questioning their sexuality, they can rely on the GLBTA Center to just be there for them, not to indoctrinate them. I don’t think that would be the same for the “Traditional Values” Center, which would only be for indoctrination.

  2. BVWKJRBKERBNERIBNEOIHEIOGJOPPW!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111111111

    I just had to suppress the fierce urge to scream because I’m still at work.

    How How HOW does this make sense!?!? Promoting bullshit values is okay for state funds, but creating a safe haven for an ostracized population should be funded from our own poor pockets??

    “He charged that these centers “are encouraging folks who consider themselves homosexuals to go on considering themselves as such. That’s the point of the centers, and that’s not something Texas taxpayers should spend their money on.’”” – This makes me want to hurl venomous snakes at people, so instead I’ll just…ugh…

    bnkjernbioerhboeriberobneroinhroeigpomb92jt9jhmbpeonjpenmoptbmtl,tenetnenetponjetponh……..

  3. 5 years ago I graduated from the University of Texas, the largest/most liberal pubic university in Texas. I never stepped into the Gender and Sexuality Center because I was too scared. It had glass walls! I depended solely on my gay male friends for all information on women and genderqueers. (Still ignorant of AS. Mistakes were made.) Despite how welcoming Austin was, there was (and is, I imagine) a lot of homophobia on and around campus.

    So I can’t imagine how I would deal at Texas A&M. The school is VERY conservative and religious. I get the sense this is changing, but very slowly. Having any sort of safe space there is really important and losing it would be a real setback. I get the sense, from people who go there, that the GLBT resource center is a vital thing for queers in organizing themselves.

    There is some good news out of there today. The Student Senate’s measure was vetoed: http://www.thebatt.com/news/sbp-vetoes-sex-ed-bill-1.2208769

    If you want to send homogay Aggies (A&M students) a note of support or encouragement, email glbtaggies@gmail.com

    • Yeah I’ve been trying to imagine for the past three minutes what a “traditional values resource center” would look like. In my head all I can see is a very sterile, empty, and boring doctor’s office. The walls are all white with pictures of children taken by a local photographer 20 years ago on them. Muzak is playing so the whole room is filled with whispering cheesy saxaphone sounds. A girl in a green frock is behind the desk with her head resting on her palms. She’s chewing gum even though she’s not supposed to. She’s really really bored. Oh and there are all kinds of pamphlets about abstinence, Jesus, and straight marriage stacked neatly on a table.

  4. As a (former/transferring back in the fall) Aggie and a former member of the GLBTA board at A&M, allow me to throw in my two cents.

    First off, the general student population at A&M is not as scary religious/traditional as people from the outside would think. A good majority of Aggies are fairly accepting and loving. The problem comes from the ones who are in power. IE the student senate. Getting into organizations at A&M is all about who you know and what strings you can pull, the senate is no different. Representatives on the senate are generally members of that “Good Old Boys” circle whose daddies and relatives are involved in Texas politics and economics, those strings get pulled and favors are definitely paid under the table for some of that power. There are lots of organizations and groups at A&M that operate almost like secret societies.

    The YCT (Young Conservatives of Texas) are actually not that prominent of a group on campus as far as membership and prestige go. They are infamous for littering the campus with flyers and posters that aren’t approved, as well as being rabble-rousers. They are so visible and influential for those very reasons. I actually have a couple of friends in the YCT (believe it or not) who have told me how the organization is run and who are trying to give a more moderate and accepting platform; the guys running it now are no less than a few bigoted assholes who are in all honesty, not too popular on campus.

    But allow me to say that the administration, especially President Loftin, are supportive of all of their students, GLBTA included. We met with him last year when we first started facing budget cuts for the center and he was very open and kind, reassuring us that he would do what he could to make sure no student lost any resources.

    Also, mad props to Lowell, my big gay momma hen. (If you or one of the girls is reading this, I love you and miss you, I’ll be back in a couple of months!) I can’t wait to move back there in a couple of months and jump back into this fray. He does so much good work for the students, gay or otherwise, to get us the help, advice, and resources we need to make it up there.

    With all that said, this makes me incredibly sad that a few bigots with a chip on their shoulder hold all the power up there. I’m Fish Camp counselor, as well as Greek. I can speak from experience with this year’s freshman class (who were incredible. All my fish knew I was gay and they were so open and supporting), as well as my fellow counselors and sorority sisters, that the students here are amazing and loving towards everyone. This is a wonderful university with an amazing student body that I know if they knew exactly what was going on, would not put up with this. The word needs to be put out. I assure you that Lowell, the Allies, friendly students, and the GLBTA board are hard at work coming up with something.

    • I’m glad you’ve had such a good experience. That’s heartening.

      I am also glad that “all my fish knew I was gay” is something that you can legit say without it meaning that you’ve had homophobic pets in the past or something. English is such a great language. :)

  5. ughhh going to texas tech in the fall. had no idea these clubs even existed and now they might die?? what am I supposed to do with my life i was promised college would have a ton of gay/questioning girls to make up for all of the heteros in small town texas. I NEED GAY INTERACTION!!!!

  6. As another aside, the Texas House and Senate is full of crazies and teabaggers. And that’s coming from a conservative gay person… And our governor, although he is an Aggie, is probably my least favorite person in politics. There is so much stupid flying around up in Austin right now it makes my head hurt.

  7. Traditional Values Resource Centers = Churches
    Aren’t there enough of those around Texas? (and I’m religious).

    I don’t understand how people think gay resources need to counter acted with straight resources. I grew up in a super conservative part of California, the whole city was one giant homophobic resource. It was only that I left

    Also those Traditional Value People? Biggest freaking hypocrites ever. Talk about “do as I say, not as I do” It seems there’s always one in the news caught with his pants around his ankles.

  8. I think what it boils down to is that conservative politicians think that public universities are just full of rabid liberals who are out to squash everybody who disagrees with them.

    Meanwhile, my (public, non-Texan) law school has Federalist Society speakers who come and get catered with free Chipotle, and our LGBT group is… nonexistent. Does anybody out there know of any resources as far as starting these things up? I didn’t have time this year, but I’d like to next. I guess the temporary solution is that if the school doesn’t want to fund them, find money and (wo)manpower somewhere else.

  9. This bill may not impact schools such as UT and Texas A&M where the LBGT centers are primarily funded by student fees and donations, and only minimally by appropriations from the state.

    That being said, this is still disgusting and sets us down a slippery slope that may end up ruining things like women’s studies programs, minority studies programs, and eventually the educational environment as a marketplace of ideas.

    http://www.americanindependent.com/181087/house-budget-amendment-may-not-impac-lgbt-centers-at-ut-am

  10. The last part reminded me of something I did in high school with my best friend. We were cruising around being stupid high school students and we saw a straight couple making out by a pond in a nearby neighborhood. We threw trash at them and yelled breeders! I know it was wrong but it felt good after all the stupid homophobic comments we were used to hearing…

    • Right?!

      Also, I’m trying to figure out what they’re gonna do, based on knowledge of my college’s queer resource center. Will kids sit around and watch hetero rom-coms and talk about how they’re afraid to tell their parents they’re straight?

  11. When I went to Texas A&M (Old Army 2000-04), a bunch of us lesbians hid out in organizations like Aggie Sisters for Christ, Sigma Phi Lambda (Sisters for the Lord), and your favorite church’s college group. I remember a girl being called out on her “struggles” with homosexuality. Instead of going to a “GLBTA Resource Center”, they sent her to Grace Bible Church so she could be mentored by a straight woman.

    As Ash mentioned, “Traditional Values Resource Centers = Churches”. That is the truth. But as JordiW so amazingly said, the student body of Texas A&M is quite amazing – even the Corps of Cadets. The Corps knows they have gays in it but most of the outfits are fine with their gay members.

    Maybe I just need to move back down to College Station and start my own big gay center right on George Bush Avenue.

  12. The fact that I literally live on the same street that this sort of legislation is made is really disconcerting. I get to live in Austin, a seriously great place (considerably more liberal/gay than the rest of Texas), but the fuckery that goes down at the capitol is just, like, a blight on my city.

  13. !!!!!!
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    this this!!
    argngdkexrecvm
    This bites.

    Please just stop adding to your list of crap Texas! Seriously.
    I’m also miffed with you Texas because you gave me a week of standardized testing over stuff I learned in middle school, that I finish within an hour and am stuck in a testing room for most of the day.

    • Haha, I’m a senior, I sleep in during TAKS week! You sound just like me a little while ago, though. What grade are you in? Either way, only a few years left, right? Work hard in high school, get free college. That’s what I’m doing, and it’s fabulous! I get to leave the state and everything. Keep up your good work, you’ll be out of there before you know it!

      • Thanks for the encouragement :)
        I’m a sophomore, so two more years of TAKS (plus tomorrow’s U.S. History one). I was going to do the advanced graduation program (for scholarships & grants), but I’m not learning in my foreign language class and would fail the 3rd year of it for sure, so I can’t do the program. Still doing as much as I can, even though I may not need it if I go to certain art colleges. The fact my grade completion depends on TAKS tests still irks me though (course finals & AP tests should be enough). I’ve had my high school courses planned out completely since middle school, to maximize my chances of being able to go far far away for college & life after that.

        Good luck with your senior year and college! Have fun!

  14. I go to college in East Texas and the University just recently created a safe place for GLBT students founded by a lesbian professor and another professor whose sexual preference I’m not sure of. This makes me wonder if the Texas Legislator will bring the hammer down and affect my campus.

  15. Every time I read something about my state’s legislature, I feel like it’s coming out of my parent’s mouths, and the Southern Baptist Convention is somehow secretly running things around here. *shudder*

  16. I always feel a little famous whenever Texas A&M makes it onto AS. Just to reiterate what others have been saying, the majority of Aggies are not crazies. I’ve had a very positive experience since being here. So, if you were planning on becoming an Aggie, don’t let this deter you! COME TO A&M! MOST OF US ARE OKAY WITH GAYS I PROMISE.

  17. they say everything is bigger in texas. looks like theyre right. the amount of political douchebaggery seems to be bigger than alot of other states. yes, other states suck hard too, but damn! cmon texas!

  18. So I just graduated from school about 20 minutes from Austin, and despite the lack of funding, the gay groups there were great. Admittedly, I didn’t hang around them too much, they were mostly a bunch of cliques, the fact that they had to generate their own funding just made them that much stronger.

    One of the biggest events every semester is a big drag show/ gay pride party. Everyone goes! It always has a theme, and people go all out. It’s great.

    Then there’s this little private college in Austin that’s apparently known as “the closet on the hill,” and every single person that I know there, EVERY ONE OF THEM, is either gay or legitimately bi.

    So yes, it’s still Texas, it’s still super conservative and all anti-gay all over the place, but if you give it a chance, it’s a lot better than you might think.

    But maybe that’s just because I’m sensible and don’t deal with all those Aggies from A&M.

    I lived in the California Bay for a while, and I’ve lived in Austin, TX. I’d honestly say they’re not that different once you truly get to know each city.

  19. Apparently, they didn’t get the memo on the current state of “Traditional Values Resource Centers.” That’s actually synonymous with “the current state of society.” Last time I checked, kids weren’t killing themselves, because they were freaked the fuck out over being accepted for being straight. Just, what even?

  20. Is it bad that it’s actually really difficult for me to comprehend people thinking this makes ANY SENSE AT ALL??? I have no words when I come across things like this.

    I just kind of blink and stare and really try hard to realize that people actually think like this and then my brain hurts because it’s impossible to comprehend someone thinking this up and thinking ‘this makes sense and is a fabulous idea.’

  21. I’m honestly tired of people throwing around the word “oppression” as though it doesn’t mean
    the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner.
    Straight people can not feel oppressed, ever. When someone is showing contempt toward you because of your straightness you are experiencing a type of prejudice, or perhaps just a general rudeness. Don’t tell me you feel oppressed because 10% of the population has decided they won’t take anymore shit and demand visibility. Just do not come out your mouth with that

  22. Texas is just putting the fucking icing on the cake with legislative decisions like this. Rick Perry also passed the budget for the following (I guess quarter or something, but it falls over the Fall Semester) and there is a resounding 12% budget cut for all public schools, including public universities.

    How the hell am I supposed to get a good education with less adjunct professors, larger classes, and a much larger student to professor ratio?

  23. This is such an old article, but I’m going to a state school in TX next year, assuming I don’t win any lottery scratch-offs between now and then. This is really happening? It really happened? Is it even safe to be out at these schools? #scared

  24. I think it’s funny that these crazy Texans are saying that there needs to be a center for straight kids at colleges, when clearly their whole college experience is a “straight kid center”. The point of lgbt centers is for people who are lgbt to come together and get info on things like sex and dating, because, guess what? It doesn’t come from anywhere else! These RESOURCE CENTERS give us the RESOURCES we need, because we wont easily find them elsewhere. The world is geared toward sameness. Should we take away foreign culture centers, or make each school also provide a US resource center, because the college is in America? Absurd, really.

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