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I Need to Borrow a REALLY Small Violin, Please

Thursday, April 28, 2011

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TW for homophobia and transphobia, including use of slurs and references to violence

Via a university newspaper, I first became aware a couple of days ago of a proposed Texas state budget provision "requiring state colleges and universities that use state funds to support 'a gender and sexuality center' to spend an equal amount to promote 'family and traditional values'." The amendment was proposed by Representative Wayne Christian and passed by a margin of 110-24. Christian identified the source of his consternation as 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 story, including the observation that "Lawmakers supporting the bill have said that they favor only equal time for all kinds of sexuality" (Because cisgender heterosexual people aren't getting their fair share of time or money... or something).

But the Inside Higher Ed article and the school newspaper make it clear that other supporters are honest about their ultimate goal--getting rid of centers "that serve gay and lesbian students":
[T]he Young Conservatives of Texas, a group that worked with Christian on the legislation, did so with the hope that public colleges would respond to a law, if the bill passes, by ending support for existing centers. Tony McDonald, senior vice chairman of the group and a law student at UT Austin, said in an interview that "we could try to get these groups defunded" in a law, but that the equal funding approach was viewed as more likely to pass (perhaps with the same impact).
And from the school newspaper:
"State funding and student fees should not fund any university minority or political group whether it be black, white, gay, etc," John McClellan, Christian's Chief of Staff, said. "This amendment is just one step in the process towards getting rid of these centers."
The argument seems to be that traditional family values,* whatever the hell those are, and heterosexuality are in danger because of a conspiracy to "promote" homosexuality. Wherein promoting homosexuality is roughly equivalent to daring to exist as a gay person.

Poor Tony McDonald of the Young Conservatives of Texas is distraught that ""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."

See how equivalent these things are? Being gay or supporting a university gender and sexuality center is the same as walking around wearing a t-shirt that actively promotes a hostile climate and condemns/others people.

Again, I ask where does this shit come from--these ideas that the most privileged people in our society are persecuted simply by the presence of truly marginalized people who are refusing to stay confined to those margins?! According to the article, students indicated that they just want "to create 'an equal playing field' for those who may disagree with the gay center."

Because the playing field at universities is so obviously leveled in a way that unfairly benefits gay students.

Dear Mr. McDonald, despite your righteous indignation, as the Inside Higher Ed and the linked Texas Observer articles point out, there are things you will probably never have to worry about:

1. Grown ass lawmakers won't "crack jokes and guffaw" when discussing your sexuality or gender identity.

2. As the program co-ordinator for the center at Texas A & M notes,
I have never heard of any student who took their life because their college roommate outed them as being a heterosexual student.

[snip]

I have never had a student come up and complain that someone comes up and out of the blue calls them a 'hetero' and slapped them, but that happens to my students, who are called 'dyke' and 'fag.'
3. No one is ever going to accuse you of promoting heterosexuality just because you exist.

4. I agree with the Observer that you probably won't have these worries on the first day you're on campus:
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?
No, you'll bounce through life willfully oblivious to the ways that heterosexuality is promoted, via everything from media outlets to tax benefits, imagining yourself egregiously put out and put upon.

But it's everyone else that has a "grievance-based" identity, right?
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*It would've taken another post to unpack the ongoing assumption that only people who are straight and cisgender (and to a certain extent, married/aspiring to be married) have family values and that "traditionally"/historically no one but those people have existed--I find the term "traditional" neatly and conveniently disappears the lives and experiences of a whole lot of people.
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