Gay student’s HIV status revealed in student council smear campaign
HOUSTON — Campus police at the University of Houston-Downtown have launched an investigation over flyers that surfaced on campus that detailed private medical information about a gay student’s HIV status.
Kristopher Sharp, a third year student who is running for student body vice-president, was called into the UHD Dean of Students Tommy Thomason’s office last week and given a copy of the flyer that had been found at numerous locations around campus.
The front of the flyer had the words “WANT AIDS?” above a picture of Sharp with a large “x” on it, and “Don’t support the Isaac and Kris homosexual agenda” at the bottom. (Isaac Valdez, also a junior at UHD, is Sharp’s running mate.) On the back of the flyer was Sharps’s medical information from a physician visit, including his HIV status and prescribed medication, along with his home address and telephone number.
Sharp told the Houston Press that he was “really devastated” by the incident and, and that his first reaction was, “How quickly can I transfer?” to another school.
“There’s a culture at UHD that is somewhat less accepting of LGBT youth, but something of this magnitude is completely mind-blowing,” he said. “I knew, going into the election, that I could possibly be targeted because of my sexuality — but I had no idea that it would go to this level.”
UHD Director of Media Relations Claire Caton told LGBTQ Nation that the university is actively pursuing an investigation into the matter and trying to find the person or persons responsible.
“We’re taking this incident very seriously,” Caton said. “Of course, any time our students’ rights are violated, we take that very seriously.”
According to campus university police officials, because proper words such as AIDS and homosexual were used on the flyer versus offensive slang, it is considered free speech and therefore protected.
But while the involuntary public disclosure of the medical status without permission does fall under criminal statues in the Texas Criminal Code, Sharp said he’s not interested in pursuing criminal charges.
He said he doesn’t want anyone to go to jail — he just wants an apology.
“I just want to know why they did it,” Sharp said. “Truth be told, we can keep that between us, as long as the person comes forward and speaks to me. I’ve been able to reflect, and I really just want an apology.”
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