Why COD Allows LGBTQ+ Hate Group On Campus

Why is COD platforming a known hate group? Manager of Student Life Chuck Steele comments.

Devin Oommen, Staff Writer

The group Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment, or H.O.M.E, was on COD’s campus last Monday and Tuesday spreading an anti-LGBTQ+  message. Students may be wondering why this group is allowed to be on campus.

In an interview, Chuck Steele, manager of student life, said that the college is bound by federal law not to prevent groups from being on campus based on the content of a group’s message.

“We have no choice in the matter. We provide opportunities for community members to be on campus, and content does not enter into it,” said Steele. “This falls under our distribution of printed material policy.”

H.O.M.E’s table and sign set up in the 1st floor Student life hallway (Danny Olivares)

Groups that wish to be on campus distributing printed materials fill out a request form, and requests are granted based on availability of the space.

In 2014, the founders of H.O.M.E filed a lawsuit against Waubonsee Community College after the college rejected their request to distribute their flyers on the school’s campus. In Jan. 2015, a judge issued a court order that the policy the school cited to deny the group was too restrictive, ruling that the college was infringing on the group’s First Amendment rights by denying their request based on the content of their speech.

“That’s where the federal law comes into place. Some schools have tried to be too restrictive in some of their policies. There’s a tension there, what is allowable and what isn’t,” said Steele.  

Steele said students are not obligated to engage with the group.

“The students do not have to stop, do not have to listen, do not have to engage, if they choose not to,” said Steele. “If it’s not something that they feel is going to be productive…Then we encourage students to use that ability to just walk away if they like.”

In a 2014 interview with the Daily Northwestern Wayne Lela, founder of H.O.M.E, said college students were close-minded on the subject of homosexuality, which he finds inappropriate.

“They don’t want to hear another side. I just find that inappropriate for an educational institution,” Lela said.

Wayne Lela hands a flyer to a student (Danny Olivares)

H.O.M.E’s website says the group doesn’t support violence against the LGBTQ community. 

“We believe in educating them about the lifestyle, just as we believe smokers, for example, should be educated about their unhealthy lifestyle. It should also go without saying that such education is not a hateful act, as many misguided people would have you believe,” the website said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) keeps a list of active hate groups. Two criteria SPLC uses to define what Anti-LGBTQ hate groups are include groups that claim LGBTQ people are threats to society and disseminate untrue statements as facts. SPLC lists H.O.M.E as one of 23 active hate groups in Illinois.

Students take a photo with LGBTQ+ pride flags (Danny Olivares)

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a non-profit organization that takes on civil liberties cases with the objective of guaranteeing constitutional rights are protected for all citizens. The ACLU details why speech like this is and should remain to be allowed on college campuses. The article explains that speech that is punishable by the government is limited to speech that “intentionally and effectively provokes a crowd to immediately carry out violent and unlawful action.” 

The website says public colleges that allow guests to use the campus can’t selectively choose which guests are and are not allowed based on the content of their speech. The ACLU is known to work for the rights of underrepresented groups but they also take cases defending the speech of hate groups. ​​”Restricting the speech of one group or individual jeopardizes everyone’s rights because the same laws or regulations used to silence bigots can be used to silence you,” the website said.