And Sex Week at UT-Knoxville. Sigh. Seems like they just kind of threw in the sex week issue just because. From The Knoxville News Sentinel.
Gov. Bill Haslam allowed the bill that diverts about $436,000 from the University of Tennessee's office of diversity and inclusion and into minority engineering scholarships during the next school year to become law without his signature on Friday.
"This bill received considerable debate and discussion during legislative session, and the final form of HB 2248 was revised so that its primary effect is to redirect administrative funding for the Office for Diversity and Inclusion for one year into scholarships for minority engineering students. Although I do not like the precedent of redirecting funds within a higher education institution's budget, I find the ultimate outcome of the legislation less objectionable and am therefore letting it become law without my endorsement," Haslam said in a message to the Legislature.
The governor's action comes a day after the University of Washington announced that it is hiring UT Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Rickey Hall, who has been at the center of controversy and calls to defund his office. He becomes Washington's vice president for the office of minority affairs and diversity and chief diversity officer.
House Bill 2248:
* Reallocates "all funds in the budget of the office of diversity and inclusion" at UT Knoxville for fiscal year 2016-17 into scholarships for minority students in engineering programs. That budget contained about $436,000 in the 2015-16 school year. The UT Board of Trustees has not yet approved budgets for 2016-17.
* Bans UT from spending state funds "to promote the use of gender-neutral pronouns, to promote or inhibit the celebration of religious holidays, or to fund or support sex week," most of which had already occurred.
The bill has a dual set of roots, one growing out of four years of student-sponsored "Sex Week" activities on the Knoxville campus and the other from a newsletter and a web posting by the diversity office last year.
Republican lawmakers denounced the first Sex Week in 2013, a wide-ranging set of events, programs and discussion panels — some with salacious titles — on sexuality, preventing sexual assaults and sexually transmitted diseases and other topics, including sexual abstinence. The statehouse outcry prompted UT to pull any state funding from the event, which was mostly funded with student activities fees and donations.