Last year, state lawmakers passed legislation defunding the University of Tennessee’s campus LGBT center.
So the Knoxville university reached into its pockets and is funding the center privately, hiring a salaried, full-time coordinator paid for from private funds rather than government money.
“You can’t thrive if you aren’t well,” UT chancellor Beverly Davenport told the Knoxville Sentinel. “You can’t thrive if you are marginalized.”
The Pride Center has been run by student volunteers and maintained by private funds since last year, when legislators redirected the $445,882 allocated to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion away from LGBT students and toward scholarships for minority engineering students. Unsurprisingly, those same lawmakers aren’t happy the school has figured out how to keep the center open, despite their best efforts to shut it down.
Republican Senator Mae Beavers, who is now running for governor, said she was appalled that taxpayer funds “were being used to promote a radical agenda that did not reflect the values of the State and our citizens.”
“Diversity is for black, white, Asian, Latino, male, female,” fellow Republican state Senator Joey Hensley told the Sentinel “We do need a diversity of those things, but when we get into every small group getting some special treatment, no, I don’t think we should spend money on that.”
After Chancellor Davenport pledged to reinvest in the Pride Center, Republicans responded by threatening legislation specifically prohibiting state dollars from being used to fund it. “If state tax dollars are being used, then I can tell you that I look forward to bringing another piece of legislation,” said Rep. Micah Van Huss.