LGBT community ponders future center - lsureveille.com: News

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LGBT community ponders future center

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Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013 11:21 pm | Updated: 11:39 pm, Mon Apr 22, 2013.

While recent events regarding the funding of Texas A&M’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center have sparked controversy, members of LSU’s own LGBT community may have to wait a while before receiving their own center.

Texas A&M’s Student Senate passed a bill April 3 allowing students to opt out of paying the part of their student fees that would fund the GLBT Resource Center at A&M if those students had religious objections to the center, according to Texas A&M’s student newspaper, The Eagle.

However, Texas A&M Student Body President John Claybrook vetoed the bill April 5.

Former LSU Student Government President Taylor Cox said he fully supports Claybrook’s actions as well as the movement to provide more resources to LGBT students at the University.

LSU’s SG passed legislation at its Senate meeting Wednesday thanking Claybrook for his veto.

Although the University does not have its own LGBT center, Cox said he thinks it is something that will eventually be established, but it may take some time.

“There’s a long way to go, but I think LSU is heading in the right direction,” Cox said.

Outside of the University’s Spectrum organization, resources for LGBT students on campus can be found in the Office of Multicultural Affairs in the Student Union.

Cox cited the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ LGBTQ Project and Safe Space Campaign as a particularly helpful program many may overlook. The program includes resources such as First Contact, which assists LGBT students considering coming out to their families or friends.

Chad Freeman, graduate assistant for the LGBTQ Project and Safe Space Campaign, said it’s not uncommon for universities to lack LGBT centers.

Out of 14 schools, Texas A&M, Missouri, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee are the only Southeastern Conference members with their own separate LGBT centers or offices. Other schools have resources similar to the University’s, including LGBT organizations, gay-straight alliances and programs through multicultural affairs’ offices.

Freeman called an LGBT center at the University a “definite possibility,” especially considering the recent establishment of the African-American Cultural Center and the new Women’s Center.

“I would think that would happen in the future with the proper amount of resource allocation and assessment evaluation,” Freeman said.

He said the process behind building an LGBT center is extensive and requires collection of data from the student population to ensure there’s a need for the center.

Student fees should absolutely be used to help fund a potential LGBT center, Cox said.

Cox said just because students don’t personally use an on-campus facility doesn’t mean they should be exempt from funding it, comparing the funding of an LGBT center to that of the University Student Recreational Complex.

“It’s our job to contribute,” Cox said.

Students at the University of Alabama are also hoping for a future LGBT center on their campus.

The University of Alabama has three main entities for LGBT students, according to Noah Cannon, film sophomore and president of Alabama’s Spectrum organization.

Spectrum at Alabama is similar to LSU’s organization and works with undergraduate and graduate students. Capstone Alliance is Alabama’s campus organization for LGBT faculty, staff, graduate students and allies. Alabama also offers training through its Safe Zone program for faculty and students to learn how to work with and respect the LGBT community, Cannon said.

“What happened at Texas A&M is really tragic and seemingly represents a lack of support from their SGA,” Cannon said. “We’ve been lucky enough to have full support from SGA [at Alabama].”

Cannon said the creation of an LGBT center is something they are actively working toward at Alabama.

“The events at Texas A&M have definitely been a wake-up call to future difficulties we may face in building our own LGBT center,” Cannon said.

Freeman said the University has seen enormous growth in LGBT resources in the past 10 years, and he foresees an even greater increase in the future.

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