State university campuses with gender and sexuality centers could have to add a “traditional family values center” that receives equal state funding if an amendment to the House Budget Bill from Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, succeeds.
The House passed a version of the budget that included this amendment Sunday. While presenting the amendment, Christian said universities such as UT and A&M would be affected because they have gender and sexuality centers that offer and encourage education about “alternative sexual practices.”
“This is not restricting [alternative sexual practice education],” Christian said. “If they’re going to [offer such education], they have to match the center, the dollars, the mortar and the cost of taxpayer dollars for traditional values. You would be able to go to The University of Texas and A&M and attend their heterosexual gender and sexuality centers.”
Gender and Sexuality Center director Ana Ixchel Rosal said according to her interpretation of the amendment, it will not affect UT since the center’s current $180,000 annual budget is not funded by state dollars.
“We get funding from students services fees and individual donations,” Rosal said. “So technically the University has not appropriated any state funds to support the [Gender and Sexuality] center. So a traditional family value center would get no [state] money because the state doesn’t fund us.”
Christian’s chief of staff Jon McClellan said the amendment was intended to affect UT and other universities, and they will look into Rosal’s interpretation of the amendment.
“That is news to us. I have a feeling our group has a different idea of what constitutes as receiving state funding than the Gender and Sexuality Center does,” McClellan said.
McClellan said as far as he knows UT would still be affected by the amendment.
“Obviously if the Gender and Sexuality Center is not funded by taxpayer and state dollars, [the center] would not be affected by it,” he said. “It’s going to be up to the implementation of the lawyers from the state and UT and all that.”
The amendment text defines alternative sexual practices as “gay, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, transsexual, transgender, gender questioning or gender identity issues.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, asked Christian to define “pansexual,” which caused laughter throughout the chamber. The amendment must still be approved in a joint committee, where the budget bill will head next.
“While it is humorous to you, it is humorous to me what we are allowing [gender and sexuality centers] to do with our tax dollars,” Christian said during the debate.
Rosal said the amendment did not surprise her but wonders how the bill will define traditional family values.
“We see all types of families and all those have traditions that go all the way back,” Rosal said. “I’m not exactly sure what is meant by that.”
One student said the proposal is only fair to support the diverse needs of the campus.
“For those people who do agree with LGBTQ, there are plenty of people who don’t [agree],” said Republicans on Campus President Justin May. “I think it’s important that as a University, there’s a free exchange of ideas and education. It’s appropriate that institutions provide information representing all viewpoints.”
Ben Kruger-Robbins, co-director of UT GLBT advocacy group StandOut, said the amendment will inhibit the possible growth of the Gender and Sexuality Center.
“These are really crucial resources for both providing a sense of community to LGBTQ and allied students and also promoting education to LGBTQ causes,” Kruger-Robbins said.
Kruger-Robbins said the item will only put more weight on an already-strained University budget.
“In a legislative session that’s supposedly focusing on budget cuts, funding family value centers is actually detrimental to the causes the Legislature purports to be working towards,” he said.