FSU’s Student Senate President, Jack Denton, has been accused of making alienating, homophobic and transphobic remarks in a public group chat.
While discussing various activist organizations due to recent injustices, Denton made this comment: “…everyone should be aware that BlackLivesMatter.com, Reclaim the Block, and the ACLU all advocate for things that are explicitly anti-Catholic.” When asked to further clarify this statement, Denton responded with, “BlackLivesMatter.com fosters ‘a queer affirming network’ and defends transgenderism. The ACLU defends laws protecting abortion facilities and sued states that restrict access to abortion.”
Denton, when pressed further, did not offer an apology for his comments (that I or any of my sources are aware of). Instead, he claimed “It is important to know what you’re supporting when you’re Catholic. If I stay silent while my brothers and sisters may be supporting an organization that promotes grave evils, I have sinned through my silence.”
Screenshots of Jack Denton’s messages are available here.
I had the chance to interview Student Senator Samuel Bogle concerning this event, the repercussions of these remarks and the actions that have since been taken. (For full transparency purposes, I’d like to take this moment to state that Samuel Bogle and I are in a relationship, however, all responses in this interview reflect Bogle’s individual thoughts.) The interview is as follows:
Her Campus (HC): Do you believe these were inappropriate comments?
Samuel Bogle (SB): A big initiative at FSU is one called “Upholding the Garnet and Gold.” This recognizes that FSU is a diverse community with a long-standing tradition of respect for the dignity and worth of each person. This shameful rhetoric does not represent those values.
HC: In your opinion, why is that?
SB: This rhetoric implies that BlackLivesMatter.com’s support for queer people and the rights of transgender people is a “grave evil,” which is unequivocally wrong.
HC: These controversial remarks have sparked an outcry for the motion of no confidence on the Senate floor. Tell me more about that; how did you and others come to make the decision?
SB: It was not a decision made lightly, there was much deliberation and discussion within the pride caucus [of which Samuel Bogle is a member]. We came to the decision that this greatly needed change could not wait. I commend the bravery of Senator Kundhavi Gnanam for her brave words in introducing and advocating for the motion of no confidence.
It should be noted that the motion for no-confidence failed by only four votes as according to the founder of the pride caucus, Senator Brendan Gerdts. I asked Senator Samuel Bogle what happened following this.
SB: Because it failed, I and many of the other senators left the meeting in protest. So many of us left that quorum was not able to be met.
As a result, the meeting had no choice but to adjourn early. Not only did many Student Senators leave the meeting in protest, but a petition was soon published to Change.org calling for Jack Denton’s removal from Student Senate. For more information, the petition in question can be found here.
HC: What happens if Denton resigns as a result of this petition?
SB: We will elect a new Senate President in the next Student Senate meeting.
Later, when I had the chance to interview Senator Brendan Gerdts, he agreed with Senator Samuel Bogle that action must be taken: “If there aren’t consequences for the elected officials, there will be for the transgender students in the environment they [elected officials] have created,” Gerdts stated.
Senator Brendan Gerdts’s closing remarks were fortunately optimistic, as he states, “I do believe in legitimate change, but we have to work hard for it.”
Again, Senator Samuel Bogle and Senator Brendan Gerdts agree.
HC: What do you think this situation will ultimately lead to?
SB: I think this is a stepping stone to a larger movement within Student Government. More and more people want to see their values reflected in leadership.
HC: Do you think this situation can lead to that?