For several years, the Tennessee legislature has threatened to take action against the University of Tennessee (UT) for allowing students to conduct an annual “Sex Week” on campus. Now the state legislature has followed through on its misguided threat by passing HB 2248, which states:
State funds shall not be expended by the University of Tennessee to promote the use of gender neutral pronouns, to promote or inhibit the celebration of religious holidays, or to fund or support sex week.
In addition to prohibiting the use of state funds to support Sex Week, the bill also cuts the budget of UT’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, reallocating the money to “fund scholarships to be awarded through the minority engineering scholarship program.”
FIRE has consistently opposed the legislature’s efforts to crack down on Sex Week, which is already entirely paid for by student activity fees and private donors, meaning that no state dollars fund the endeavor.
FIRE is deeply concerned about the chilling effect that legislative interference with university students’ extracurricular activities will have throughout the state. We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops, and we offer our assistance to any students or student organizations affected by the bill.