CA's LGBTQ law blocks SoCal college rocket club from Alabama competition

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018
California LGBTQ law grounds college rocket club
A Citrus College rocket club can't travel to a prestigious NASA competition in Alabama because of California law banning publicly-funded travels to states that discriminate.

GLENDORA, Calif. (KABC) -- A Citrus College rocketry club may be reaching for the stars, but is coming up with a handful of politics.

The Rocket Owls team has earned a coveted spot at the annual NASA Student Launch competition, where 60 college teams from across the country go head-to-head, building and launching high-altitude rockets.

But the event is held in Huntsville, Alabama which is one of eight states now targeted by the California legislature's AB 1887. That law bans publicly funded travel to states deemed to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people.

Citrus College released a written statement saying "The College stands with the State Chancellor, the Legislature and the Governor in support of AB 1887 as a response against discrimination. ...As an alternative, the Rocket Owls will be participating in a rocket competition sponsored by Friends of Amateur Rocketry/Mars Society to be held in Mojave, California."

But at least one Citrus College faculty member is upset that the students will not be able to compete in the NASA competition. Math professor Paul Swatzel says he's hoping the school will let the students participate if they raise their own money and don't use any public funds. He's already donated $500.

"To be an undergraduate, even more a community college student, to do something like this alongside Ivy League schools and top four-year schools across the country is quite an experience," he said.