Tuesday, Tennessee’s General Assembly passed a bill that would defund the University of Tennesee’s Office For Diversity and Inclusion. The bill has been passed to the state Senate.

Legislators would divert funds currently allocated to the Office of Diversity, “to minority scholarships for engineering students. It would also bar the university from using state funds to support the annual Sex Week programming or gender-neutral pronouns,” reports The Tennessean.

This year’s Sex Week agenda:


The University’s Sex Week took place earlier this month and hosted a porn star to speak about “butt stuff” and “oral pleasures.” Shockingly (or not), state legislators do not want to continue sifting state funds to pay for the annual event.

So, students protested:

The Tennessean continued:

The bill passed 9-2 Tuesday in the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee. It appears to be headed for the Senate floor, although multiple senators in the committee suggested they disagreed with the version of the bill that was passed by the House of Representatives Monday evening.

The House bill was amended to send about $100,000 of the Knoxville diversity office’s funding to a program that would print “In God We Trust” decals for law enforcement vehicles while sending about $336,000 to minority scholarships.

Both chambers will have to agree on one version of the bill for it to become law.

Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, who amended his bill to remove the decal program completely, said it would be “inappropriate” to adopt the House’s version of the bill. After the vote, Gardenhire said he doubted the Senate would approve a version of the bill that included the decal program. But, he said, the bill without the decal program had a good chance of passing.

Republican lawmakers have threatened to defund the diversity office for months after two controversial posts on the office website that promoted the use of gender-neutral pronouns and “inclusive holiday celebrations.” University officials eventually removed both posts, but lawmakers have continued to question UT’s diversity funding throughout the legislative session.

UT has not commented on how the diversity office would operate if the bill became law, or if the people in that office would lose their jobs without the state funding the office depends on. In a statement Tuesday, university spokeswoman Karen Simsen said “it is speculative for the university to comment about pending legislation.”

Most college campuses have their own version of Sex Week. Fine. But expecting state taxpayers to foot the bill is more than a bit tone deaf.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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