Controversy About LGBT Conference Funding - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Controversy About LGBT Conference Funding

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Addie Olson


The Des Moines Area Community College Diversity Commission spent about $1500 sponsoring and buying tickets for students to attend the 8th Annual Governor's Conference on LGBTQ Youth. Now, a campus group wants that funding returned.

Kenny Lehman knows what it's like to be bullied. He spoke of what it was like for him in high school.

"Every single day I was called names," Lehman said. "It even got to where I was beaten up, slapped around, this and that."

That's why Lehman signed up for a ticket from DMACC to attend the Governor's Conference. DMACC is also one of around 100 sponsors of the event.

Lehman believes the conference will only promote diversity.

He said the event is, "a way to reach out to people, increase awareness of oppression and the bullying that LGBT people go through every single day, especially in our schools."

A Christian conservative group on campus, Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), sees the issue in a completely different light.

"Diversity is not when you're bullying individuals with taxpayer money, and that's what we're opposed to," said YAF President Jake Dagel. "Taxpayer money being used to sponsor workshops that are bullying individuals based on Christian and conservative beliefs."

Dagel believes conference workshops titled, "Who is afraid of the big bad right wing?" and "For the Bible tells me so," are attacks on Christians.

"I believe it's possible they're going to say that the Bible is completely wrong, that it's OK to live a homosexual lifestyle and any Christian that has read scripture knows that's not true," Dagel said. "That's very offensive to Christians that believe in the Bible."

The school is in full support of their decision to put money toward the conference.

 "We don't always agree, but we need to respect each other, and agree that you shouldn't be bullied or abused because of your belief," said DMACC President Rob Denson. "And that's where we stand, and we would back any organization to make sure that their rights are preserved."

The conference is put on by Iowa Safe Schools. It's set to take place April 3.

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