Monday, February 25, 2013

Texas Republicans Threaten Funding For Schools With Pro-LGBT Policies

Two Republican Texas lawmakers have filed bills that would cut funding for schools and universities that have policies supporting their LGBT students and staff.

Last fall, the Pflugerville School District announced it would be the first in Texas to offer domestic partner benefits to the same-sex partners of its teachers and staff. State Rep. Drew Springer (R) isn’t happy about this, and has filed a bill (HB 1568) to cut 7.5 percent of a district’s healthcare funding if it offers such benefits. In his press release introducing the legislation, Springer didn’t shy away from his intention of punishing Pflugerville for recognizing same-sex relationships:

SPRINGER: Our tax-dollars are for educating kids, not for enacting policies that attempt to get the state to recognize homosexual relationships. To think Pflugerville has sued the state for more funding, while at the same time bankrolling a lifestyle most Texans do not agree with is quite disturbing to me.

Meanwhile, Rep. Matt Krause (R), an attorney with the Liberty Counsel, has introduced HB 360, a bill not unlike one that just passed in Virginia that would cut funding for any university that does not allow its religious student groups to discriminate based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. Of course, these are groups that are using campus funding that all students pay into, and thus all students should have equal access. The bill claims that forcing religious groups to accept students who do not abide by their beliefs “violates the organization’s members” First Amendment rights” of free exercise of religion and freedom of association. Unfortunately, the First Amendment does not include “the right to receive university funding and recognition even while discriminating against university students.” Krause’s chief of staff explained the the bill is being redrafted to be more narrow, but its core legislation is offensive regardless.

These two bills suggest that for Texas Republicans, discriminating against LGBT people is more important than funding education. Nothing but animus can motivate such priorities.

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