The University of Central Arkansas president is not a little monster.
UCA’s Torreyson Library recently celebrated Pride Month with a classic Lady Gaga quote on its signboard: “Being gay is like glitter. It never goes away.”
This signboard, which has removable letters and sits outside the campus library, is regularly updated for special events or to provide information.
️Happy Pride Y’all️
We love & respect all the LGBTQ+ members of our community.
— UCATorreysonLibrary (@UCA_Library) June 12, 2019
Library staff posted a photo of their special Pride message on social media, along with a link to the library’s LGBTQ resources guide. “The UCA Library is dedicated to maintaining a safe and inclusive space for everyone,” the site reads. “We value the needs, cultures, abilities, and experiences of all individuals, encouraging civility and open discourse in our facilities, collections, services, and people.”
But UCA president Houston Davis demanded that the Gaga quote be removed the day after it went up, claiming, “we do have to be very careful that we walk the fine line between individual freedom of speech and institutional voice,” KATV reports.
While agreeing that it is “not only appropriate but very important” to advocate for the LGBTQ community, he argued that campus signage was not the place to “advocate for a personal viewpoint.”
— KATV News (@KATVNews) June 19, 2019
“Timing of the sign in the summer also was considered,” Davis continued. “We have to be very mindful of the hundreds of minors that are on campus during the summer which further complicates an environment that is normally programmed for adults and our very meaningful conversations about ourselves and our world.”
Many UCA students, faculty, and alumni denounced Davis’ decision on the library’s Facebook page. Some students also posted sticky notes around campus in support of the LGBTQ community.
“When people are being murdered daily for being trans, and kids are taking their own lives because they’re gay, our institutions, like universities, are in many cases, LIFE SAVING,” wrote Rachel Winne McAdams. “Creating space on campus for ‘the other’ is never something that should be seen as advancing a personal agenda.”
There’s lots of resources inside the library!
Come on in and check out a book from our LGBTQ+ book display. pic.twitter.com/PEUymIIm1K
— UCATorreysonLibrary (@UCA_Library) June 19, 2019
We’ve got lots of great LGBTQ+ movies for you to check out during Pride month (and all the other months)! ️
You can check out 7 movies for 7 days pic.twitter.com/mIQ0Cq0raw
— UCATorreysonLibrary (@UCA_Library) June 14, 2019
Join us Tuesday night at 6pm. pic.twitter.com/n36k0CsYP9
— UCATorreysonLibrary (@UCA_Library) June 23, 2019
Davis later responded to the controversy in a statement, noting that he had met with library faculty and staff to discuss “best practices for making appropriate use of the sign.” He also listed the university’s numerous LGBTQ-related services and events.
“I understand that the removal of this quote has caused fury and sadness across campus,” Davis wrote. “I am very sorry that this has been the outcome and that anyone has felt unwelcome or silenced. That was certainly never my intention. We are absolutely committed to supporting our LGBTQ students and our entire campus community.”
Torreyson Library has continued to commemorate Pride Month by recommending LGBTQ-related books, movies, and other resources on social media.