The head of a family values organization in the Lone Star State believes a special graduation ceremony planned for LGBT students at Texas A&M sends the wrong message to students and university supporters.
Despite the controversy and complaints, Texas A&M is holding separate and special graduation ceremonies for LGBT students Wednesday evening. The "Lavender Graduation," as it's being called, will feature as its commencement speaker Phyllis Frye – the first transgender judge in the state and a Texas A&M alumna. (See editor's note)
Supporters haven't specifically stated the reason for the special ceremony, except that "new leadership" in the pro-LGBT resource center on campus [link caution] is making it possible this year – and that it is to "celebrate the accomplishments of graduating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and ally [LGBTQQIAA] students."
Regardless of the motive, Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, says this is foolhardy.
"This special Texas A&M ceremony essentially promotes and celebrates dangerous and risky sexual activity that can fiercely jeopardize a person's well-being," he tells OneNewsNow. "I'm not sure this is the most responsible way for a university to prepare students for the real world."
Campus Reform quotes A&M students who question both the need for a special graduation ceremony celebrating certain students "just because of their sexuality," as well as the use of mandatory student fees for "political activism."
Saenz also points out an issue that he believes introduces a problem for the school as it promotes the LGBT lifestyle: Texas recently passed an amendment to its constitution banning same-sex marriage.
"It would seem that groups like this at Texas A&M do not support our state law," he suggests. "And so I would understand why students would be concerned that their fees would give the impression of being used to really advocate against clearly established law."
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In February a federal judge struck down the state's marriage amendment. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says his office is challenging that ruling.
Editor's note: The GLBT Resource Center at Texas A&M, host of "Lavender Graduation," points out the event is "simply a celebration and recognition ceremony" that isn't intended to interfere with the university's official graduation ceremonies May 9-10, 2014.
A university in Colorado has earned the "Speech Code of the Month" for the month of April by the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education.