What Would Christian Do?


Eileen Smith

Imagine the plight of the heterosexual student stepping on to a college campus for the first time. How will he fit in? Should he tell his new roommate about his alternative hetero lifestyle? Will he be bullied, just like he was in high school, where he was mercilessly teased for being a sexual deviant? Where does a straight person turn?

Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, had the same concerns last Friday when he successfully added a provision to the state budget that would require Texas colleges and universities that use state funds for “Gender and Sexuality” centers to also financially support “Traditional and Family Values” centers. Such centers would hopefully counter the already existing militant campus organizations promoting “alternative sexual practices,” otherwise known as fraternities.

The amendment easily passed the House, 110-24. The language specifies that an institution of higher education must use the same amount of appropriated funds on Traditional and Family Values Centers as they do on Gender and Sexuality Centers focused on “gay, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, transsexual, transgender, gender questioning, or other gender identity issues.” That pretty much covers it. However, Christian was caught off- guard when Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, asked him what he meant by “pansexual.” If Christian had consulted The Wikipedia beforehand, he would have known that a pansexual is an “omnisexual” with the potential to be sexually attracted towards people of all gender identities and sexes. With the exception, perhaps, of Wayne Christian.

The Young Conservatives of Texas helped Christian craft the amendment after noting that both the University of Texas and Texas A&M operate Gender and Sexuality Centers. According to the group, UT-Austin offered a “Religion and Sexuality” seminar as well as a “Gender Performance Workshop” that provided “lots of wigs and makeup and more.” Meanwhile, Texas A&M hosts such events as “Coming Out Week” and “Celebrate Bisexuality Day,” which are almost as popular as “Aggie Football Signing Day.” 

Speaking of Texas A&M and its extraordinary outreach efforts to the GLBT community, let’s not forget that in 1976 A&M refused to recognize a gay student organization, citing the fact that homosexuality was still illegal in Texas. It wasn’t until 1984 that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the First Amendment required public universities to recognize gay organizations (Gay Student Services v. Texas A&M University).

According to a 2010 report conducted by Campus Pride, a nonprofit organization that works with GLBT university groups, gay students are much more likely to experience harassment based on their sexual identity than heterosexuals. Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone, except, perhaps, Wayne Christian.

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.