UPDATE: La Tech responds to LGBT community - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

UPDATE: La Tech responds to LGBT community

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RUSTON, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Louisiana Tech University has released an official statement on the controversy surrounding the LGBT protest of Phil Robertson.

"The right to express and debate differences in opinions, ideologies, and values is at the core of a university community, and Louisiana Tech certainly supports its faculty in this exercise of free expression. It's important to note that the annual Tower Medallion recipient is selected by the Louisiana Tech Alumni Association and it's member representatives, and not the university. It recognizes those alumni who have achieved in their professions while remaining loyal to their university. The name of the recipient is not released prior to the announcement at spring commencement, which is also the case with the faculty award winners who are announced for the first time, following the Tower Medallion winner. Despite the decision of the three faculty members who opted to protest the award recipient, the focus for Louisiana Tech remained on recognizing the 957 students who successfully completed their studies and honoring them for their achievements. We are extremely proud of what they have accomplished and look forward to them representing us as Louisiana Tech alumni."

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RUSTON, La. (KNOE 8 News/Equality Louisiana) - On Friday afternoon, a group of Louisiana Tech students involved in Prism, the organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and their allies on campus, were alerted to the fact that the university would honor Phil Robertson from the popular reality TV show Duck Dynasty at the commencement ceremony held on Saturday.

Students only found out about Robertson’s role in commencement from faculty members, who also found out about the award the day before the ceremony.

Only a few months ago, Robertson came under fire for anti-LGBT comments in his interview with GQ Magazine. As soon as they found out about the recognition of the reality TV star, Prism members and other students at LA Tech began organizing a social media action to let the university know they did not support the university’s actions.

Students, faculty, and people across the state posted Facebook statuses and tweeted at Louisiana Tech using the hashtag #NoHonorInBigotry to send a message to the university.

Hannah Ellsworth, President of Prism, said, “We wanted to make a statement displaying our disapproval of the honoring, and for several reasons, including the minimal time we were given to react, a social media campaign was the best way to do this. Faculty, staff, and students didn’t have any time to give input since no one new until the day before.”

The social media campaign accompanied a walk-out by several faculty members during the commencement ceremony.

Prism is a coalition member of Equality Louisiana (EQLA), a statewide coalition of over 30 LGBT and allied organizations. The student organization had the support of EQLA and other advocates.

Tim S. West, President of Equality Louisiana issued a statement saying EQLA was proud of the Prism leadership and members for standing up for their community on campus.

“I was very happy to hear that some of the faculty members walked out of the commencement ceremony in protest. I think that sends a very strong message. The views held by Robertson are not the views held by all Louisianians.”

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