A Louisiana lawmaker is facing a tirade of criticism after pressing a local university to drop its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) studies minor with claims that the subject matter doesn't prepare students for future jobs.
In a letter to University of Louisana at Lafayette's president, Rep. Jeff Landry writes, "I want our young people prepared for workforce and the LGBT minor does not assist them toward that goal."
According to The New Orleans Times-Picayune, Landry, a Republican, continues, "Our neighbors and students should trust that the education dollars they spent at University of Louisiana at Lafayette will be used to further their careers, not a political agenda."
A news release cited by The Advocate quoted Landry as saying he believes the university is "placating to political pressures" by offering the minor to students. "Diverting your limited resources to advance a political agenda at the expense of our students is unacceptable," Landry wrote, according to the release.
As The Hill reports, Landry's expressed issues with the program aren't anything new, and he and Joseph Savoie, the university's president, have been engaged "in a back-and-forth discussion" over the LGBT studies program since its inception earlier this year. After Landry first asked Savoie to terminate the program in July, the president defended it in a letter which said "universities support student learning and produce new knowledge, educated leaders, informed citizens and expert professional skills and training."
Among those to decry Landry's efforts was Charles Joughin, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign. "Educating students on the lives and history of LGBT people is anything but political," Joughin is quoted by the Times-Picayune as saying. "Congressman Landry may refuse to acknowledge the existence and struggle of our community, but that's no reason to deny others who wish to learn a chance to do so."
Landry’s anti-LGBT stance have also hit a nerve with his openly gay brother Nicholas, who penned an open letter to his sibling on Facebook. “Ignorance is not education,” the younger Landry wrote in part, according to The Independent's Walter Pierce. "Your constituents, heterosexual and homosexual alike, have made huge inroads in working towards equality in our community. By embracing diversity and acknowledging our differences, we gain understanding. Understanding is education."