Student Government unanimously passed a resolution opposing efforts by the Texas legislature to curb the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and gender, sexual and romantic minorities at the senate meeting April 28.
The resolution supports gay and lesbian marriages, the right of transgender individuals to use restrooms and locker rooms of the gender they identify with and the rights of LGBT/GSRM people to access institutions, businesses and services without discrimination.
“There hasn’t been these kinds of organized movements against the bills and I think sending the voice of an entire student body to Austin is quite an achievement,” said Adam Richards, president of the Rainbow Guard.
The adoption of the resolution comes in response to at least 20 different anti-LGBT bills introduced in the Texas legislature this session. While some of these will allow individuals to discriminate against LGBT and GSRM people on religious grounds, others, if passed, will nullify non-discriminatory ordinances in cities such as Dallas, Houston and Plano.
Richards worked with SG Vice president Nancy Fairbank and other senate members for two months to draft the resolution in order to send the message to Austin and the Board of Regents that students at UTD were opposed to the bills and were doing something about upholding rights of LGBT and GSRM people, he said.
SG conducted a survey among students that asked questions such as whether organizations and businesses should be allowed to discriminate against LGBT/GSRM individuals.
More than 600 students responded and 93 percent of those who responded supported transgender individuals to use restrooms of the gender they identified with. A colossal 90 percent of the respondents said they did not believe that companies and institutions should be allowed to deny services to LGBT/GSRM people.
“The other thing the resolution does is that it adds support to local laws and supports national laws on same sex marriage,” Richards said.
Matt Lagos, a UTD alum and candidate for Plano’s city council place 5, said it would add support to laws protecting interests of the diverse community around campus like the Equal Rights Ordinance in Plano and Dallas.
Lagos, who served as an SG senator in 2010, said the resolution also sends a message to prospective students and the UT System Board of Regents that this university will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, genetic information and gender identity.
While there are no concrete numbers and statistics to prove that businesses deny services to people based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a lot of it is unreported, Lagos said.
“Most people would tell you that it’s probably happening in some form or fashion but it’s kind of under the radar,” he said.