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House budget amendment may not impact LGBT centers at UT, A&M

A budget amendment requiring universities to disperse state funds equally between gender and sexuality centers and family and traditional values centers may

Jul 31, 2020
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A budget amendmentrequiring universities to disperse state funds equally between “gender and sexuality” centers and “family and traditional values” centers may not have much effect on its intended targets. LGBT centers at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are primarily funded through student fees and private donations, and do not receive a significant amount of state dollars, university officials said.
Ana Ixchel Rosal, director of UT’s Gender and Sexuality Center, said the bulk of the center’s $180,000 yearly budget is funded through student service fees (about $164,000) as well as private donations, gifts and grants, making the legislation inapplicable.
“I don’t think this would apply to UT as the amendment speaks specifically to state appropriated funds, and that is not how we are funded,” she said.
The legislation by state Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Center) affects only “appropriated funds” — a term that, according to the Legislative Budget Board, does not include student service fees.
A&M’s GLBT Resource Centeris also funded primarily through student service fees, said Dr. Anne Reber, interim director of the Dean of Student Life offices. While a minimal portion of state funds go toward employee salaries, more than half of the cost of maintaining the center itself is student-supported, she said.
The UT center formed in 2004 at the behest of students who identified a need and gathered the resources for its operation. Today it is largely those students who continue to subsidize the center, not the state, Rosal said. The center provides services to some 9,500 students annually, including one-on-one advising and speakers. Rosal underscored what she considers the larger point – the questionable necessity of a “traditional values center” and the implications of its formation.
“I think beyond the technicalities of the amendment there is a conversation to be had here about the need for a traditional values center. It is not my experience on the campus that heterosexuals face systematic oppression or social stigmitization; I am not sure their lives are being second-guessed or judged the way homosexuals are. My sense is the need for such a center is not there,” Rosal said, imploring Christian to visit the UT campus in order to determine if heterosexual identity is under threat.
“When you say ‘traditional family values’ you assume what you are talking about is heterosexual people that are married and have children,” Rosal continued. “You have appropriated a term that really belongs to more people than that narrow group. Being gay and lesbian is not a modern phenomenon – the GLBT community identifies with traditional family values as well.”
Lowell Kane, program coordinator of the A&M GLBT Resource Center, pointed to** the center’s creation as a safe space from**institutionalized homophobia on campus, especially in light of A&M’s checkered reputation as an unwelcoming campus for the gay, lesbian and transgender community. In response to support of the amendment by the A&M student senate, LGBT advocates marched on campus in protest to the university bill’s passage over the weekend, as the Texas Independentrecently reported.
“It is quite clear the language of this bill is reactionary to there being an GLBT center. It says traditional values and marriage are incongruous to the GLBT lifestyle, I am not sure how you can compare human identities such as being transgender and gay to having values,” he said.
Camilo Wood

Camilo Wood

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