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Sexual preference no reason for levy

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The fate of the LGBTOUT student fee hike will be settled by undergraduate students in a ROSI referendum between today and Wednesday. The proposal for this increase is not surprising.

Canadian society has, thankfully, come to accept and even celebrate LGBTQ people. Within a few years, same-sex marriage will finally be legal in this country. Gay people in politics, academia, and the business world can be open about their sexuality in a manner that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago. In a modern, urban university like ours, only a small minority have any problem with other peoples’ sexualities. So why not charge every student another 69 cents per year for LGBTOUT?

Sixty-nine cents from 40,000 undergraduates totals more than $25,000. There is simply no good reason why that amount of money should be transferred from the general student population to this single, narrowly-focused group. LGBTOUT does many worthwhile things, but so do the other 300 student clubs and societies at U of T. Most of these fund themselves through fundraising bake sales and raffles along with occasional small cheques from SAC. Why should LGBTOUT be allowed to skim money automatically from every student?

Paul Bowser attempts to justify the $25,000 cash grab by invoking the old “homophobia” bugbear. He claims that the Homohop, a recurrent night-club event targeted at homosexual people, was “forced off campus by U of T administrators.” This is highly misleading. Homohops were held in the Hangar underneath Sid Smith until February of 2001, when serious liquor infractions including sale to minors forced the closure of the facility. The Cat’s Eye, which hosted Homohops later that year, chose no longer to do so because of repeated incidents of underage drug use. Since then, the highly popular Homohops have been held off campus because there are no U of T facilities of sufficient size.

Another proponent of the fee hike refers to high-profile homophobic and transphobic incidents on campus. If this means occasional bigots writing letters to newspapers, let me assure you that neither $25,000 nor $2.5 million will prevent them doing so.

I don’t doubt that there are a few scumbags out there who might personally insult or attack students because they’re gay. Back in Grade 4, I was a fat kid. I used to get teased about it. My mother had the solution: “if people tease you, tell them to fuck off. If they assault you, press charges.” Can’t anyone follow this advice, regardless of the reason for which you’re being “bashed?”

The term “homophobia” is being tossed around like confetti. I support same-sex marriage, but I certainly wouldn’t apply this ad hominem term to all those who wish to preserve the traditional definition. The ROSI vote this week isn’t a referendum on homosexuality; it’s a request from a student club for a quarter of a million dollars of your money.

I’d be willing to support a student levy for a U of T food bank, homeless shelter, or psychiatric counselling facility. The hungry, the homeless, and the mentally ill are groups of people who genuinely need special assistance.

LGBTQ people, by contrast, are not a needy or victimized subset of society, nor are they a visible minority. They are students and citizens like everyone else, who have a certain set of sexual behaviour patterns.

As Trudeau pointed out when Canada legalized sodomy, sexuality is essentially private. That’s the compelling argument for legalizing same-sex marriage: if any two adults decide that they want to get married, the government has no right to interfere in their privacy by forbidding them to do so. It also explains why substantial sums of money should not be automatically transferred to groups that identify themselves solely by the sexual behaviour of their members.

You’re here; you’re queer; we got used to it a long time ago. Go find your $25,000 elsewhere.