GOP lawmaker wants university to end new program on transgender studies

Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) this week reiterated his call for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to terminate a new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) studies program, and said the university should focus only on programs that help create jobs.

"Please do not assign scarce assets meant for 15,000 students on a minor that serves five people and offers nothing for direct employment prospects," Landry wrote to the university, according to a report from Louisiana's KATC. "I hope the university will put our people over politics."

Landry and university President Joseph Savoie have been in a back-and-forth discussion over the LGBT studies program since it was created earlier this year. Landry asked Savoie to terminate the program in July, in a letter that also asked for information about whether there were any federal rules that prevented the university from discontinuing the program. Landry said he would "do everything in my power to either repeal these requirements or secure a waiver for the University."

That prompted Savoie to defend the program in a letter to Landry that said "universities support student learning and produce new knowledge, educated leaders, informed citizens and expert professional skills and training."

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This week, Landry said Savoie's response was an "attempt to turn the program into a political soap box."

"[Y]our allowance of political pressure to implement this program not only jeopardizes the integrity of our university, but it also jeopardizes the access to courses our students need to compete in today's economy," he wrote.

In July, it was reported that Landry's effort to end the LGBT program was criticized by his own brother, Nicholas, who is gay. According to that report, Nicholas posted a letter to his brother on his Facebook page that said, "By embracing diversity and acknowledging our differences, we gain understanding. Understanding is education."

Rep. Landry reportedly wrote back on his own Facebook page, "To my brother. I am sorry we disagree, but we still love and pray for you."

Because Louisiana lost a congressional seat, Landry is running against Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.) this year, as wel as a Democratic candidate, Ron Richard.

— This story was updated at 9:51 a.m.