[ NEWS ]






 - By Todd Hardy
 - Arizona Daily Wildcat
 - January 17, 1997

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Association, which sponsors National Coming Out Day and Gay Awareness Week at the UA, is in danger of being disbanded if some Arizona lawmakers have their way.


Homosexual club fights ban

The campus support group for gay, lesbian and bisexual students has said it will fight proposed legislation that threatens the existence of the organization.

"We will do anything and everything in our power to ensure that this group (BGALA) continues to serve students at the University of Arizona," said Jason Cianciotto, co-director of the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Association.

But Rep. Dan Schottel, R-Tucson, said yesterday he is sponsoring legislation that would bar all homosexual clubs from Arizona's university and college campuses. He said the anti-gay measure is now being prepared in legislative council.

Schottel, a third-term legislator, said he doesn't disapprove of the gay lifestyle, but said tax dollars should not be spent on gay student clubs.

This year, the Associated Students of the UA allocated $5,251 to BGALA. In October, BGALA sponsored National Coming Out Day on the UA Mall, and it is currently planning activities for Gay Awareness Week in February.

Keith Hilzendeger, a classics junior and member of BGALA, said groups like BGALA are extremely important because many young homosexuals feel isolated from their peers. He said the proposed legislation reflects a lack of awareness about gay issues.

"It's a paranoid effort by a small group of conservative white men who have no idea what gay students go through," Hilzendeger said.

Frank Meliti, head of the Traditional Values Coalition's Arizona chapter, said the proposed legislation is derived from a similar law ratified last year in Utah. Under that law, school districts can deny access to clubs that "promote or involve human sexuality."

Meliti said he is backing the anti-gay legislation because he thinks homosexual groups use tax dollars to push illegal activities on college campuses.

"Homosexuals openly admit they perform sodomy," Meliti said.

Webster's New World Dictionary defines sodomy as "any sexual intercourse held to be abnormal, such as bestiality or anal intercourse between two males." Sodomy is a misdemeanor in Arizona.

Meliti said he is aware that some heterosexuals perform sodomy but said the proposed legislation is aimed at homosexuals.

"The legislation is targeting perverts," he said. "If we have support groups for homosexuals, why not have support groups for pedophiles, prostitutes and other perverts?"

Meliti said homosexual groups should have no right to use university facilities, but some lawmakers have said anti-discrimination laws would prevent such legislation.

Sen. Ruth Solomon, D-Tucson, said the proposed legislation would violate the Equal Access Act, a federal law that requires schools accepting federal funds to give equal access to all clubs.

Although gay clubs and support groups have long existed at the UA , BGALA has been an official body within ASUA since 1990.

"It (BGALA) has become an essential part of this campus," said Jim Drnek, assistant dean of students and ASUA's adviser.

Drnek said ASUA groups are generally not allowed to express political opinions, however, he said BGALA should be allowed to speak out against the anti-gay legislation because it is a direct threat to its existence.

"I think we will be able to work with BGALA to make sure that any laws concerning them are fair," he said.

Dave Stoutenberg, co-director of BGALA, said the group will meet Thursday to discuss plans for addressing the anti-gay legislation.