Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Zedler Amendment: GSC's Under Scrutiny

During the last Texas legislation session, Rep. Wayne Christian first attempted to defund gender and sexuality centers while simultaneously advocated for equal funding for "traditional and family values" centers. Then he attempted to do away with GSC's altogether by attaching an amendment to the budget bill. Both measures were defeated and Christian lost his House seat. This year, there's another attempt to try to defund GSC's.

Representative Zedler from Arlington recently introduced Amendment 830610 which would defund gender and sexuality centers across Texas on the basis that they promote behavior that leads to higher risks of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, and other STD's. The amendment was attached to the state budget bill (SB 1) in similar fashion to Christian's last-minute attempts to get legislation passed in an attempt to shut down GSC's.

Unfortunately, attempts seemed to have come rather quickly, so advocates had a narrow window of opportunity to express their opposition for the amendment. A few people testified on Wednesday and provided both personal stories and factual evidence as to why the amendment is both misleading and damaging. In my opinion, GSC's, contrary to the amendment's text, educate students about the risks of HIV/AIDS and other STD's and give students access to resources to help them deal with and prevent the spread of said diseases. I also think that GSC's promote safety and well-being for people from marginalized communities.

Not much information could be found online about the amendment, but I did find Equality Texas' link to Dallas Observer's blog post about the amendment. Some of the language used is problematic, though:

From what I heard, Zedler failed to return calls from those who called in, but I heard that Zedler decided to attach the amendment because one of his constituents was in favor of the amendment being passed, which may be the main reason why Zedler seems to be refusing to change his mind when it comes to taking the amendment down. Despite this, I've heard that even Zedler's staff is doubtful that the amendment will pass. In all likelihood, it seems that discussions about the amendment will lead to more research being conducted which could cause the text within the amendment to be changed or for the entire amendment to be taken down. Hearing this keeps me optimistic about the outcome since I feel that many people have expressed their opposition to the bill. The outcome at A&M, where the student senate voted 35-28 in favor of a bill that would create an opt-out option for students to choose not to allow part of their tuition to go towards the funding of A&M's GLBT Resource Center, was heartbreaking, but morale seems to remain somewhat high and hopes that the bill can still be overturned remain consistently high as well. Also, UH's student government unanimously passed a resolution that stated that UH, as a whole, opposed the Zedler Amendment (as I decided to call it).

Overall, I think the amendment will be defeated, but I highly doubt that this'll be the last time that someone tries to pull off something like this. The A&M incident is really disheartening, but I'm happy at all the support that folks within the queer communities have displayed for GLBTAggies as well as for statewide GSC's in general. For now, I'm looking ahead to see what the outcome will be and what steps will be taken once the amendment is, hopefully, taken down.

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