Texas universities that have "alternative lifestyle" centers may soon be required to have "traditional values" centers as well.
A bill passed in the Texas House of Representatives would mandate equal funding for the latter if the former is present on a state college campus. The bill is awaiting a vote from the Texas Senate.
The legislation applies to centers "for students focused on gay, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, transsexual, transgender, gender questioning, or other gender identity issues."
Inside Higher Ed has more on the origins of the bill, which was crafted by a group called the Young Conservatives of Texas:
While supporters of the centers have said that they are needed to provide support for students who are in a minority on campus, [Young Conservatives of Texas Senior Vice Chairman Tony] McDonald said that it is actually traditional students who lack power. "If I were to walk through UT law school with a shirt on that said, 'Homosexuality is immoral,' if I were to do that, there would be an uproar. People would be upset, and it would be considered out of place and not acceptable to do that. I'd probably get a talking to. But if you go through campus to promote homosexuality, that is the norm."
While McDonald said he hoped that, if the bill is enacted, public colleges eliminate existing sexuality centers, he said that there are good programs that could be sponsored by a traditional values center. He said that they might offer programs to encourage chastity or marriage between male and female students, for example.
Eileen Smith of the Texas Observer opined otherwise:
Isn’t requiring a Traditional and Family Values Center for every Pride Center kind of like requiring a White Student Union for every Black Student Union? After all, Gay-Straight Alliances are built on inclusiveness and tolerance. I seriously doubt the same could be said about so-called “family values” centers.
According to the Dallas Morning News lawmakers "cracked jokes and guffawed" during the vote, with one representative asking what "pansexual" was.