CONWAY, Ark. — A new sign sits outside Heather Smith’s Little Rock store, Domestic Domestic.
“Sometimes we try to inspire, sometimes we try to make people laugh,” Smith said.
This one serves multiple purposes, it reads:
“Being gay is like glitter, it never goes away.” – Lady Gaga.
It’s the exact quote that was recently removed from outside the University of Central Arkansas library at President Houston Davis’ request.
“I kind of think that’s, in a way, a violation of free speech to the people who attend this institution,” UCA Sophomore Isaiah Weston said.
Weston says he’s straight and a Christian.
“I don’t see anything offensive about it,” he said referring to the quote.
In an Email sent to students and faculty, Davis says the decision to remove the sign was “complicated.”
He says it’s a “core university value that we support our entire community and its diversity.”
He goes on to say “it was not okay for the university sign to be used to make a personal statement…”
“It felt like a real slap in the face when on the anniversary of the Pulse massacre, the president decided to have it taken down,” UCA Senior Ashley Hunter said.
With just 5 classes left to graduate, she’s withdrawn from UCA.
“I didn’t want to be associated or give money to a place that thought that my existence was a ‘view’,” she said.
Hunter also referenced times the university allowed ultra-conservative politicians to hold rallies as well as anti-gay organizations on campus.
President Davis also mentioned being mindful of having minors on campus during the summer.
But back in Little Rock, Smith says that’s an argument for the sign in her eyes.
“As someone who hadn’t come out as a high school student who was terrified, it would have meant so much to me to see a sign that said that,” Smith said, thinking back to the summers she spent on college campuses a part of different programs.
As the sign says — like glitter — this conversation is not going away.
We did try to find students we felt removing the sign was appropriate but were not successful.
The University sent an additional statement responding to the decision, you can read it here.