The leader of a conservative student organization on the DMACC campus is publicly opposing the college’s use of tuition and taxpayer money to support the 8th Annual Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) Youth. Des Moines Area Community College paid $1,000 to sponsor the event.
Jake Dagel, chairman of the DMACC chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, held a press conference Monday to protest school’s involvement and ask them to pull their sponsorship. Dagel’s press release states that DMACC is “the only school in the state of Iowa to sponsor” the event. As part of their sponsorship, DMACC is offering free tickets for students.
Although the LGBTQ conference is supposedly aimed at ending bullying, Dagel notes that, conservatives and Christians will be bullied at the event.
“Any conference or event that attacks individuals for their beliefs is not diversity,” Dagel said. “We, the DMACC Young Americans for Freedom do not hate homosexuals and believe that he LGBT community has every right to host this conference due to their First Amendment rights. However, as long as the conference hosts workshops that attack individuals, we will demand that DMACC revoke its sponsorship of tuition and taxpayer money from this conference.”
Dagel is referring to two workshops that will take place during the conference. One is titled, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Right Wing?” As you can see in the picture below, the description of the workshop refers to Iowa conservatives Bob Vander Plaats and Jan Mickelson as “the extreme right wing” and teaches attendees how to “fight back against” their “propaganda”.
That workshop will be conducted by the executive director of Progress Iowa, Matt Sinovic. Progress Iowa is a partisan, political organization and attack dog for the Iowa Democratic Party. Judging from the group’s website, it is clear their sole purpose is to criticize Republican officials in Iowa.
For instance, Progress Iowa blames the sequester cuts that President Obama created are “due to the failure of Congressional Republicans like Tom Latham and Steve King to reach a solution”. The group called Governor Branstad their “Turkey of the Year” for 2012.
In fact, virtually every single post on Progress Iowa’s website is a criticism of Republicans or conservatives, except for one. That one encourages Iowans to thank Democrat Senator Tom Harkin for “his years of progressive leadership”.
So, a conference supposedly aimed at combating bullying of a certain segment of the population is giving free reign to a partisan group that constantly takes part in bullying and name-calling of Iowa’s elected officials, as long as those officials are Republicans.
Jake Dagel also takes issue with the workshop entitled, “For the Bible Tells Me So”, claiming it demonizes those who believe in the Bible’s teachings.
Dagel is encouraging people to contact Marlana Schnell, the chair of the DMACC Diversity Commission, and ask her to pull the school’s funding from the event. Within seconds of the press conference’s conclusion, Schnell entered the room and spoke with Dagel.
TheIowaRepublican.com captured the exchange on video. Media members then questioned Schnell, as did Iowa Republican National Committeewoman Tamara Scott and Chuck Hurley, who works with Bob Vander Plaats in the Family Leader organization.
As you can see in the video, Schnell says no one at DMACC supports attacks on Jan Mickelson or Bob Vander Plaats. However, she made it clearly the school will not pull it’s funding of the conference.
“We’re supporting the conference in it’s entirety, the anti-bullying stance against LGBTQ youth,” Schell said.
In response to a question from TheIowaRepublican.com, Schnell said the accusations by Dagel that the anti-bullying conference is actually engaging in bullying is “something we’ll take to discussion at the commission level in terms of our support, but in terms of who I might respond to at the conference, I would leave that as a commission decision.”
The conversation remained cordial and continued for 12 minutes. Schnell noted that she did not review information about all of the various workshops at the conference prior to pledging DMACC’s support of it.
“We support activities that build diversity awareness. In general, we support any type of activity that will increase awareness for our gay, lesbian youth that attend, or adults who attend our student body. We want them to feel included and non-discriminated,” Schnell says.
Tamara Scott asked Schnell about the bullying of Christians and conservative students, and referred back to the scheduled workshop on the Bible. Scott says the workshop demeans Christians by talking about the Bible as “an excuse to hate”.
“They have been bullied throughout time, those being Christian students, conservative students. There have been studies and research done that show college campuses are continually left-leaning and hostile toward those with a conservative and Christian point of view,” Scott said. “And why are they not included in this bullying conference?”
“I think we could use this as an opportunity to find that middle ground,” Schnell responded. “DMACC is as supportive of our right students as we are our left students.”
The LGBTQ conference is scheduled for April 3. Jake Dagel says he will continue to push DMACC administrators to withdraw their financial support of the event.
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