By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com March 28 2013 7:48 PM ET
Student leadership at Texas A&M University has proposed a change to student fees that would allow students to opt-out of supporting the campus LGBT center, reports the Houston Chronicle.
The Student Senate bill was proposed last week, and would allow "students who object, for religious purposes, to the use of their student fees and tuition to fund this center to opt-out of paying an amount equal to their share of the Center's funding from their fee and tuition bills," according to the Chronicle. The school will host an open forum on campus on April 3 to discuss the matter.
The GLBT Resource Center opened on the Texas A&M campus in 2007, and receives some of its funding from student fees. A statement from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Aggies student group called the bill a "direct and blatant attack" on a minority already stigmatized on the conservative campus.
Supporters of the bill say it's perfectly logical for students to determine how the funds they're required to pay are used. "While it can be argued that the GLBT Resource Center is a worthy use of funds in order to provide a welcoming environment for vulnerable populations at Texas A&M, it is reasonable for students to object to a use of their own money that is in direct opposition to their own religious values," reads the bill.
The Chronicle reports that the Texas A&M Student Government tried to pass a similar bill in 2011, but it was vetoed by the student body president. At the same time, a similar bill was introduced in the state legislature that required "GLBT resource centers to provide matching funds to traditional sexual education," and restricted universities from increasing student fees to support such centers, according to the Chronicle.
"We are still in the process of fighting to exist and be positively acknowledged at Texas A&M," the GLBT Aggies said in a statement released this week. "While [the bill] claims to promote religious freedom, we cannot ignore that it only allows students with one religious belief to control how their student fees are used: only religious traditions that disapprove of LGBT interests are given a voice … Whatever the intentions of the bill may be, its effect is clearly discriminatory."
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