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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Texas representative criticizes A&M LGBTQ minor as ‘liberal indoctrination’

LGBTQ%2B+minor+offered+at+A%26M+has+prompted+Texan+Representative%2C+Bryan+Harrison+to+question+the+integrity+of+the+leadership+at+A%26M+for+allowing+taxpayer+dollars+to+be+spent+on+the+minor.+%28Graphic+by+Ethan+Mattson%2FThe+Battalion%29
LGBTQ+ minor offered at A&M has prompted Texan Representative, Bryan Harrison to question the integrity of the leadership at A&M for allowing taxpayer dollars to be spent on the minor. (Graphic by Ethan Mattson/The Battalion)

Texas A&M has offered the LGBTQ+, studies minor for under a year. Texas Representative Brian Harrison said the minor is a waste of his constituents’ tax dollars. 

Two sociology professors at A&M believe the minor is a necessary addition to the educational opportunities offered to the students. They said removing the minor limits academic freedom and success beyond the university. 

LGBTQ+ Studies is listed in the Undergraduate Catalog stating it “prepares students to examine the ways in which gender and sexuality are socially constructed and offers a critical understanding on how sexuality and sexual orientation shape gender roles, identities, and social statuses in societies.”

Graduating with this minor is said to help “students develop critical thinking, writing, and analytical skills as they explore a wide range of topics that provide an intricate and nuanced understanding of LGBTQ+ lived experiences, histories, and social movements.”

Sociology professor and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies, or WGST, program, Theresa Morris, Ph.D., said in a written statement that there was no issue when developing the minor; there was only support.

“The development of the minor had broad support from the Aggie community … WGST faculty and students, and was approved by the WGST Program, the legacy College of Liberal Arts and the University,” Morris said. 

Harrison wants the minor terminated, with or without the support of the leadership of A&M. 

“I was profoundly disappointed as the leadership of Texas A&M decided or, should I say, did not honor my request to terminate the program,” Harrison said. “The leadership of Texas A&M should not have to sit around and wait for the legislature to force them to do the right thing. They should end the program right now.”

He said his constituents should not have their tax dollars go towards “liberal indoctrination.” 

“I represent 200,000 Texans, hard-working, and I wish I could tell you how many Texans are concerned about even being able to stay in their home because their taxes are so high,” Harrison said.

Harrison detailed the timeline to have the minor removed. 

“Our next regular session will gavel in January of next year, so that would be a timeline for a legislative solution to be filed, and I will file a bill to end this insanity,” Harrison said. “I am working with lawmakers of the state and the federal level to come up with a solution to protect my constituents’ tax dollars, as well as the integrity of Texas A&M.”

Sociology professor and Aggie Ally, Mary Campbell, Ph.D., said removing the minor would only negatively affect students’ education.

“The minor is a legitimate area of study that you should be able to study at A&M,” Campbell said. “If we want to be a high-quality university, that’s how we do it: by providing those opportunities to students. I mean, we don’t want students from A&M to not have all the opportunities that you have at other universities.”

Campbell said removing this minor will result in a chilling effect on campus. 

“A sense that there are certain things that you’re not allowed to study here or certain research topics you’re not allowed to investigate,” Campbell said. “I think we should work very hard to protect academic freedom, the freedom to study any legitimate area of study, which this minor absolutely is.”

Morris added in a written statement the minor shows A&M recognizes individuals as part of the LGBTQ+ minor.

“It’s also an opportunity for all members of the Aggie family to learn and engage with each other,” Morris said.

Morris said the sociology department has certain obligations and values to uphold. 

“One job our program has is to prepare students to live and work in a diverse society and to have meaningful conversations with a variety of people,” Morris said. “The minor is relatively new and just taking off. We have seen much faculty and student excitement about the minor.”

Harrison said he has many urgent concerns regarding the integrity of not only the sociology department, but also A&M.

“They have an entire course on alternative genders,” Harrison said. “I would love to know from the leadership of Texas A&M exactly how many genders they believe there are. I’d love to know that.”

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About the Contributor
Stacy Cox
Stacy Cox, News Writer
Stacy Cox is a freshman majoring in Sociology, minoring in Women & Gender Studies and earning a certificate in Legal History. Stacy is from New Braunfels, Texas, and she started writing for The Battalion in November 2023. After graduation, Stacy intends to earn a law degree and pursue a career in law and public service.
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Comments (11)

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  • R

    Rhonda D. EvansMar 16, 2024 at 1:19 pm

    Upon reading this article, my heart filled with great admiration for Dr. Morris, Dr. Campbell, the faculty who were part creating and offering courses for the LGBTQ+ minor at Texas A & M, and the leaders within the College of Liberal Arts and Texas A & M University, more generally. Contrary to Representative Harrison’s accusation, all of these faculty members and leaders have acted with tremendous integrity and commitment to upholding the mission of higher education, which includes: promoting research, and knowledge formation and dissemination that informs policies and practices aimed at solving individual and social problems; developing skills, such as writing and critical thought; promoting responsible citizenship; preparing students to thrive in their careers and life; and improving the live chances of individuals, communities and society. Fulfilling the many aspects of this mission of higher education, requires continuous expansion in choice of topics of study to reflect the changes that occur in our world, as well as new needs that arise.

    Contrary to Representative Harrison’s inflammatory accusation that an LGBTQ+ minor is “liberal indoctrination” and a “waste of tax payer dollars,” this minor is one among many minors available to those who decide for themselves that expanding their knowledge of a given topic or area of study would be beneficial to them personally and/or professionally. Educational choices are the opposite of indoctrination. Representative Harrison’s threats to close off educational choices, on the other hand, are an attempt to indoctrinate individuals into his own beliefs regarding who is or is not valuable or worthy of study. And, projection is a common strategy among abusers, oppressors and many politicians who seek to manipulate voters.

    Having taken and taught gender and sexuality courses myself, I can attest to their value in greatly enhancing my own knowledge and understanding on how gender and sexuality have been socially constructed across different societies, within the context of power relations, and throughout human history. These courses contributed to my ability to think critically about my underlying assumptions of the world and people around me and improved my interactions with individuals who were different from myself. They empowered me to see the value in differences among human beings, which allowed me to more effectively teach students from diverse backgrounds. Many of my students have expressed the same value and benefit from such course to their own lives. These students who have gone on to thrive in many professions, such as social work, education, nursing, criminal justice, non-profit organizations, higher education, etc… frequently share how these courses helped them to better meet the needs of their clients. I have a sneaking suspicion that Representative Harrison has never bothered to study or even sit in on a course in gender or sexuality studies. Should he choose to do so, I am certain he would see the value in such courses of study. Should he choose not to gain knowledge or experience on the topic which he so harshly judges, his opinion is akin and equally as valuable as a child who professes he hatred for broccoli, without ever tasting broccoli.

    Lastly, arguing that a minor program in any area of study is a waste of taxpayer dollars is ridiculous. Anyone with knowledge in higher education is well aware that new faculty are not hired and new cost are not incurred to add minor programs. Such programs are developed from course offerings that are already in existence within major areas of study. Interdisciplinary courses with common themes or topics of interest are combined to form minors that better meet the needs and interest of students. Truthfully, academic minors are great examples of “doing more with less” or “increasing value without incurring cost.”

    Reply
  • C

    CCMar 6, 2024 at 11:33 am

    Academic freedom plays a critical role in supporting democratic values and institutions. When we allow our academic institutions to foster critical thinking, debate, and the free exchange of ideas, we better prepare our students to be informed, engaged citizens. Being able to freely examine social, economic, and political issues contributes to an informed public discourse, which is essential for a healthy democracy. Hats off to Dr. Theresa Morris and the additional faculty members who have worked hard to allow students the opportunity to further their education at TAMU.

    Reply
  • O

    OOMar 6, 2024 at 9:49 am

    What great faculty to offer these classes to students. The school is able to educate all people and bring them together to foster a greater future. We cannot let critiques and judgements take away from positive change for our students. I believe this is evidence A&M is improving.

    Reply
  • A

    Allison WoodsMar 5, 2024 at 11:33 pm

    Bravo to Theresa Morris for championing the importance of the LGBTQ+ minor. These programs are crucial as they encompass significant literature, bolster support for minority students, and teach indispensable knowledge about LGBTQ roles in society. Imposing restrictions on educational content, particularly in higher education, is unjustifiable. Attempting to marginalize a community by excluding them from the educational narrative is a grave mistake. Brian Harrison’s stance is not only uninformed but also oppressive.

    Reply
  • C

    ChrisMar 5, 2024 at 2:17 pm

    I am so glad I left Texas. They want to revert back to the stone ages.. If left unchecked, I would guess that women would be excluded from attending public universities in Texas in about 10 years. Need to get rid of all these boomers, and their regressive tactics. Back in 1995, I was walking across campus and had my hair died pink for cut. Had a maintenance truck pull up along side me and said ‘Go back to austin you fag’. I was floored. I am not gay, but the treatment is just horrible. Imagine if someone came up to you and told you to leave because you were Christian.. I yelled back ‘Go get a degree’.. lol. they drove off. I wish it was offered when I was there.

    Reply
    • C

      ChrisMar 6, 2024 at 11:18 am

      Guy is not a boomer, class of 2004.. A&M should yank his degree if he proposes it.

      Reply
  • J

    JWMar 5, 2024 at 3:04 am

    Would a course on Nazi Germany be fascist indoctrination? Would a course on Keynesian economics be big-government indoctrination? Is a course on the old testament selling Judaism? A course on Cubism indoctrination against Impressionism? Do critics of certain TAMU programs really think Aggies are so feeble minded that they can’t think for themselves?

    Reply
    • D

      David R CalvertMar 19, 2024 at 11:07 am

      “Would a course on Keynesian economics be big-government indoctrination?”………. WELL – actually it Would Be!!!

      Reply
  • L

    Laura MandellMar 4, 2024 at 11:11 am

    Indoctrination involves forcing others to adhere to a particular worldview. TAMU students are NOT required to take courses studying the LGBTQ movement, but the proposed bill would certainly force them not to.

    Reply
  • K

    KBMar 3, 2024 at 11:08 pm

    First: Are you crazy to think “LGBTQ Studies” is something productive?….or even worthy of appraisal or teaching? Please, have some sort of sanity here. HELLL NO! What in the hell is wrong with you people!

    Reply
    • B

      BBMar 5, 2024 at 8:39 am

      So you believe an entire part of our society should not be studied? In the sociology department… Where they study society… Should we just erase it from history? To protect a certain few peoples delicate sensibilities?
      Should we pretend that It doesn’t exist? Should we leave our students with a gigantic hole in their sociology studies? What other specific parts of our society that you specifically don’t believe in should we leave out of the sociology department?

      Reply