[Update: Christian's amendment passed late Friday night--right before he was unable to tell the Lege, while discussing another amendment, whether "African-American studies would fit into studies of Western Civilization." These are the people we have making decisions about what actual universities can teach. PEOPLE. PEOPLE. IT IS NOT A JOKE. IT IS FOR REAL.]
I’m still on the anthropology graduate student mailing list from my days at the University of Texas, and this piece of unmitigated horsesassery landed in my inbox this morning: Nacogdoches representative Wayne Christian (totally his real name, y’all) is concerned that centers for gender equality and LGBT education are hogging all the money! I’m not sure what money he’s talking about, since funding (especially liberal arts funding) is being drastically cut across the board in Texas universities, but whatever, as long as some right-wing Christian somewhere feels offended, I guess that makes the sky purple and Newt Gingrich a swell husband.
Anyway, Christian reckons it’s time to stand up for America’s “traditional values,” which naturally does not include anything to do with the gays or equality or individual identity. Here’s Christian’s higher education budget amendment, thanks to the wonders of the Texas Tribune’s searchable database:
Amend C.S.H.B. No. 1 in Article of the bill, in the Special Provisions Relating Only to State Agencies of Higher Education, by adding the following appropriately numbered section: Sec. Funding of Student Centers for Family and Traditional Values. It is the intent of the Legislature that an institution of higher education shall use an amount of appropriated funds to support a family and traditional values center for students of the institution that is not less than any amount of appropriated funds used by the institution to support a gender and sexuality center or other center for students focused on gay, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, transsexual, transgender, gender questioning, or other gender identity issues.
It’s just wholly unnecessary and ignorant, besides. The reason why centers for gender equality and LGBT resources exist is because pretty much the entire mainstream world of narrative, practice, media, law, whatever, exists to tell women and LGBT people that they are less than. That some drawer-wadded right-winger thinks it is of the utmost legislative importance that we fund something that is already funded, backed-up, perpetrated and practiced by what is pretty much the entire fucking world, demonstrates the lengths to which this whole persecuted-Christian-majority thinking has permeated the brains of people in favor of whom power, patriarchy and mainstream culture work tirelessly.
Further: I dislike the idea of the Texas legislature dictating, broadly across all institutions of higher learning in the state, that they have to spend a certain amount of money on any one thing at all, considering the needs of schools vary greatly by size and specialty. It’s squicky to me in any case, but especially squicky given the obvious ideological, rather than practical or realistic, bent of this legislature. At the very least, I’m comforted by the idea that somewhere, some Jerry Fallwell Center For P-In-V Sex Only To Make Babies And We Love Apple Pie supervisor will be forced to acknowledge that LGBT centers and gender studies departments are so ridiculously underfunded, it probably wouldn’t take more than one Sunday’s special offering from, say, The Mount Whatsit Baptist Doodad Fellowship to match the funds.
The lege is will likely vote on this mid-day tomorrow, and with the number of Republicans in office this session, we can pretty much expect it to pass. At this point, I give up on expecting our newly elected reps to focus on anything like the economy, as this amendment further proves that none of these folks ever had any intention of growing, increasing or funding anything other than culture wars.