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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Students protest closure of LGBTQ Resource Center

Students gathered Thursday afternoon to protest the sudden closure of the LGBTQ center. | Raphael Fernandez/ The Cougar.

After recent legislative changes, the UH community must now ignore one of its biggest strengths: Its diverse campus culture. 

Last week, a crowd of approximately 40 students stood outside the College of Social Work building during a record-heatwave in response to the University being the first school in Texas to close its LGBTQ Resource Center. 

The protest was organized by UH GLOBAL president Kaitie Tolman, who received an overwhelming amount of support when promoting the protest.

“We may just be student organizations running this, but that doesn’t mean anything because power is in numbers and we have such great big numbers,” Tolman said. “They cannot silence our voices.”

As of Aug. 31, the resource center and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion will no longer be in operation , due to Senate Bill 17.

SB17 was signed during the recent legislative session and will prevent universities from continuing with their diversity, equity and inclusion offices, along with banning required diversity training and other aspects that promote inclusion.

Political science freshman Justin Schnitzer  said that, for the LGBTQ community, the University’s messaging is clear. 

“I feel like the University is sending a message and setting a precedent that they won’t care about the LGBTQ community, and they’re not going to continue to support other things that we do,” Schnitzer said.

Because the bill doesn’t go into effect until next year, some protestors shared their worries about the University closing its offices so quickly.

“We’re the first school in the state to close its LGBTQ resource center, and diversity and inclusion center,” said English associate professor Maria Gonzalez. “Everyone else is dragging their heels for good reason. I don’t know why we’re taking the lead here, I’d prefer not to. I really wish we would slow down.”

Outside of the protest, Andrew Joseph Pegoda, a professor in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department, detailed how the center saves lives and its importance to students.

“I have had countless queer students over the past decade share that the UH LGBTQ Resource Center is the only safe place on campus, the only place where they can truly be themselves,” Pegoda said.

An email sent by Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Daniel Maxwell detailed the new Center for Student Advocacy and Community, which will be opening before the beginning of September.

“This center will make available wide-ranging advocacy, a support network for both undergraduate and graduate students, comprehensive basic needs services and resources, and facilitate a variety of events and programs to foster student success, achievement, and community building,” Maxwell said in the email.

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