LSU Hosts Anti-Gay Speaker
Leader of “hate group” to speak on campus; gay students pissed
By Donald Hodge Jr.Posted Feb 23, 2011
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, will be speaking to the Public Administration Colloquium on March 11 amid the organization’s newest controversy – being named a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Perkins, a Baton Rouge native and former head of the Louisiana Family Forum, will speak to the class on the topic of public administration, but it remains to be seen whether the anti-gay rhetoric his group is known for will seep into the discussion.
The Family Research Council has a long history of being anti-homosexual, and this has some students in the class concerned, as they are required to attend and listen to whatever Perkins has to say.
“I’m uncomfortable having a man who is so outspoken when it comes to gay rights speak to a class I’m required to attend,” said one student, who requested to remain anonymous. “In an environment where we are supposed to accept everyone, having someone who stands against a certain group of people in society goes against that principle,” she said.
Indeed, the LSU Policy Statement on Equal Opportunity may give some pause about the nature of the topics Perkins will cover in the class.
Policy Statement one stipulates that LSU’s commitment is to “provide equal opportunity for all qualified persons in participation in and activities which the University operates without regard to race, creed, color, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, sex, national origin, age, mental or physical disability, or veteran’s status, as well as to implement a procedure to address complaints for those who believe they have been subjected to discrimination and/or harassment in violation of this policy.”
Whether speaking on anti-gay topics, which Perkins is known to do, would constitute harassment under this policy is difficult to say. But Perkins is not known for shying away from this commentary.
According to the SPLC, the Family Research Council has been placed on the watch list because it “often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws, anti-bullying programs, and the repeal of the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.”
The SPLC bases its determination on many factors, including the statements and positions of the leader of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins.
SPLC takes issue with Perkins continually linking homosexuality with the act of pedophilia, for example.
Perkins responded by citing his appearance during a debate in November 2010.
“While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem,” he said.
“Part of FRC’s recent strategy is to pound home the false claim that gays and lesbians are more likely to sexually abuse children,” responded a spokesperson for the SPLC.
“If you look at the American College of Pediatricians, they say the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a danger to children,” said Perkins, defending his claim during a debate on Hardball with Chris Matthews last November. (He didn’t mention that the ACPed is a splinter group of conservative doctors who formed the group in 2002, in response to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the well-respected mainstream organization that speaks for medical professionals involved in child and youth care, which had taken the stance that homosexual parenting posed no measurable threat to children.)
While Perkins may speak to the class on a subject entirely different from his group’s mission, the concern of some is that his mere presence is a tacit endorsement of the anti-gay rhetoric he promotes daily.
Perkins himself once attended classes as a student in the Public Administration Institute before leaving to become the President of the Family Research Council, which is based in Washington, DC.
After becoming the head of the Council, there was a move to make Perkins a member of an advisory board for the Public Administration Institute. This proposition, however, was deferred after vocal opposition from faculty and students within the department, because of the work Perkins does in promoting an agenda that is not inclusive of all people.
“We have equal opportunity for a reason at the University – we are supposed to be a place where all people feel comfortable and persons are not marginalized for who they are,” said one former faculty member of the Public Administration Institute.
Despite this, the chair of the Institute, Dr. James Richardson, invited Perkins to address the Colloquium class – which is a required course for all students in the program.
“Tony has free range to speak on whatever topic he chooses; there’s no set issue on the syllabus for him to speak about at this time,” said Jim Richardson, chair of the Public Administration Institute who also teaches the Colloquium Class.
“He is a graduate of the program and he will have an opportunity to speak about his work at the Family Research Council. It is possible he will address topics of recent debate such as the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy,” explained Richardson.
Richardson added that students in the class would have an opportunity to question and challenge Perkins on his stances. “We think all sides of an issue have the right to be heard in the education system,” he said.
Tony Perkins on gays
“Homosexuals are a harm to society.”
“There are 9.5 million reasons in the state of California to preserve marriage – it’s called children. This shows a total disregard not only for voters, but for recorded human history that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
“They don’t have a right to marry, just like you and I don’t have the right to marry anyone we want to. We don’t have the right to marry our first cousins. ...We don’t have the right to marry someone who is underage.”
- The American College of Pediatricians estimated membership: < 200 medical professionals
- The American Academy of Pediatrics membership: 60,000 medical professionals