Senate bill discriminates, GLBT Aggies say
Published: Friday, March 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 00:03
GLBT Aggies vice president Maria Miguel said a Student Senate bill that would potentially threaten GLBT Resource Center funding is a form of discrimination.
The GLBT Funding Opt-Out Bill, introduced at the Wednesday Student Senate meeting, would recommend students who do not approve of the GLBT Resource Center on religious or moral grounds be able to opt out of a portion of student fees that goes toward the resource center.
Miguel, senior women’s and gender studies major, said the bill is no more than an ongoing and poorly veiled form of discrimination.
“It’s a good way of masking prejudice and discrimination against the [GLBT] community,” Miguel said. “It’s making the people who are very against the [GLBT] community sound really nice by using religion as a cover-up.”
Northside senator Chris Woolsey, author of the bill, said the bill does not oppress the GLBT community.
“The belief that this bill is oppressing the GLBT community or is a way to legalize discrimination is a ploy to distract from the real meaning of the bill, which is to protect the religious liberties of students,” Woolsey said.
Woolsey said in his Wednesday presentation that the issue is more a matter of religious principle than a financial issue. Woolsey estimated $100,000 is allocated to the resource center, or about $2 per student.
“I would argue that even if it took 43 cents off my tuition statement, if I were the a religiously objecting student, then I would rather stand for my principles, stand for what I believe, then have to be forced to pay,” Woolsey said. “I think there are many students who would like to follow that same line of thinking.”
Woolsey said the absence of a University-funded counterpart to the GLBT Resource Center should exempt students from being forced to help fund it.
“There is not a traditional family values center that will promote the opposite of what the GLBT promotes,” Woolsey said. “Since we are funding one of those and not the other one, I believe that student’s should be able to choose whether to pay for it or not.”
Off campus senator Robbie Cimmino said the bill could be a slippery slope. He proposed the hypothetical question of whether the bill could set a precedent and ultimately result in students with certain ideologies demanding to not pay fees toward an organization they don’t agree with.
Sidney Gardner, program coordinator for the Texas A&M GLBT Resource Center, said any legislation of this sort, local or national, could have a psychological effect greater than the actual application of the bill.
“Many people forget that for our students, this has a real emotional toll and an emotional impact,” Gardner said. “[GLBT legislation is] talking about the validity of someone’s identity.”
The GLBT Funding Opt-Out Bill will be reviewed in committee before it is brought forward for debate and voting.