Thursday, 20 June 2019

University faces backlash after removal of LGBTQ sign from campus: 'Being gay is like glitter. It never goes away'

On June 18, an email was sent to all students, faculty and staff of the University of Central Arkansas from the office of the president, explaining why the administrative decision was made to remove an LGBTQ sign off campus.
The sign, stationed in front of Torreyson Library to celebrate Pride month, quoted Lady Gaga: "Being gay is like glitter, it never goes away."
UCA President Houston Davis cited that due to the number of minors on campus for summer camps, and concerns that the university sign was being used to "make a personal statement or advocate for a personal viewpoint," he ordered the sign to be removed on June 12, according to UCA News.
Following the decision, many students placed Post-it notes on the now-blank sign to show their support of the LGBTQ community. Many students, alumni and faculty also spoke out about the removal on the sign on the library's Facebook page.

"Having minors on campus would actually be a perfect reason to show love, acceptance and support of all different people. Using them as an excuse to espouse bigotry is what should be banned on campus," one person wrote.
"Will have to keep the forced removal of this sign in mind when they are calling for alumni donations," a graduate of the school shared.
"Thank you UCA library and all the people who have posted their concerns on this thread. You are beautiful. I see you ... I will continue to push for visibility, support and dignity of LGBTQ members of the UCA community," a faculty member at the university wrote.
One senior, according to UCA News, went as far as withdrawing from her classes. "Don't want to support President Houston Davis after he suggested minors shouldn't be exposed to LGBTQ folks and that the university's view of 'diversity' means giving equal standing to folks that don't want people like me to exist," senior Ashley Hunter said.
On Wednesday, UCA President Davis shared a public letter to the faculty, staff and students of the university.
"I understand that the removal of this quote has caused fury and sadness across campus. My observation that the library sign is a university platform and should be reviewed as such has morphed into a debate about UCA's values and commitment to diversity," the letter read in part. "I am very sorry that this has been the outcome and that anyone has felt unwelcome or silenced. That was certainly never my intention. We are absolutely committed to supporting our LGBTQ students and our entire campus community."
Davis went on to state that he appreciates all of the emails and phone calls he has received regarding the matter, and he plans to continue to meet with library faculty and staff, as well as PRISM (UCA's Gay-Straight Alliance) leaders and Student Government Association leaders.
"I also want to address the conclusion that some have come to that, because of this event, UCA does not value, support and protect our LGBTQ community. That is simply not true," Davis wrote, listing the many programs, events and services the university provides every year, and how students will often see him at those events showing his support.
"I also want to speak for our leadership team and the attention that we pay to defending the importance of every [LGBTQ service, event and program UCA hosts and provides]. It probably does not come as a surprise to many of you that we receive a limited amount of inside and a great deal of outside criticism regarding those programs. While I find myself defending them on a predictable annual cycle, I am proud to advocate for all of these programs and services and will always," Davis promised.
"While I know not to take the criticism personally, my professional record and the record of my leadership team does not merit some of the names that are being hurled nor the label of anti-LGBTQ. Those UCA faculty and staff close to day-to-day administrative operations are vigilant in defending and supporting our LGBTQ community," his letter ended. "Not only do we defend, but we also form a large portion of the core group of faculty and staff attendees and participants at these events."

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