NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Social conservatives and state politicians are so worked up in Tennessee over goings on at the state university you'd think students wanted to erect a mosque on campus, but in fact they're just planning the next Sex Week, which, come to think of it, is just as threatening to some as Islam.
Just look at the stops being pulling out. Yesterday, a cabal of anti-porn groups got together to issue a fatwa... er, press release "petitioning the University of Tennessee Chancellor, President and executive officers to halt 'Sex Week' sessions on the grounds that it potentially violates Tennessee state obscenity laws while creating a hostile environment for female students and does not include factual evidence that illegal pornography creates a demand for trafficking."
Members of the cabal include usual suspects Girls Against Porn & Human Trafficking, Concerned Women for America, Beverly LaHaye Institute, Enough is Enough, Movieguide, Trafficking in America Task Force, and Pink Cross Foundation. Not exactly a bastian of sexual tolerance.
Their arguments are also redundant, a typical blend of scare tactics, urban myths and evangelical code evoking the encroaching perils of porn creating fertile ground for trafficking, obscenity at the school and escalatingly vague claims about violating school policy and putting the school in criminal jeopardy.
According to Tiffany Leeper, founder of Girls Against Porn, "The University is potentially violating Tennessee law by not reviewing the content of 'Sex Week' in depth and materials brought by those invited. The University is also violating the Department of Education's Civil Rights Letter of Finding requiring policies that prohibit sexual harassment-related activities that create a hostile and sexually charged environment for females on campus."
A quick perusal of the UT Sex Week schedule undermines that comment, however. With sessions planned on Transgender Sexuality, Gender Theory 101, abstinence, STI testing and hook up culture, no one in their right mind could argue that the agenda reinforces patriarchal stereotypes. If anyone reinforces those abusive labels, it's the very people and organizations opposed to Sex Week!
Indeed, as was noted in an earlier posting on UT Sex Week, "Other Sex Week guest speakers include clinical sexologist Megan Andelloux, sex and relationship expert Reid Mihalko, and more than two dozen others. They will lecture on a variety of topics ranging from sexual health, gender theory, and hook-up culture to communication, consent, orgasms, and abstinence. UT Sex Week features more than thirty events including a poetry slam, an art show, and various lectures on the intersection of sexuality with history, culture, religion, law, and public policy."
As instructive and comprehensive as all that sounds, to Tennessee state officials it all just sounds like "perversion." Or, as Rep. Richard Floyd (R-Chattanooga), the sponsor of a nonbinding House resolution passed this week condemning the event, put it, “If those people who organize this thing want to have it, hey, let them get off campus. They can go out there in a field full of sheep if they want to and have all the Sex Week they want.”
That's just a taste of what you get from the "Sexual Gateway" state, where in 2012 legislators passed a law that bans instruction in schools promoting "any gateway sexual activity or health message that encourages students to experiment with non-coital sexual activity," such as kissing and hugging, and instead requires instruction that "exclusively and emphatically promote(s) sexual risk avoidance through abstinence, regardless of a student's current or prior sexual experience."
With Sex Week 2014 about to commence, the push-back from students and faculty against moves to kill the event has only further inflamed the anti-sex brigades in and out of government. In retaliation, legislators are now threatening to completely eliminate funding for guest speakers at the state university, effectively throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and the institutional anti-sex brigades have warned in their press release, "The F.B.I. field office has been notified of planned illegal distribution of pornographic material to minors on campus."
No word on how many agents have been mobilized to deal with the situation.
For more information about UT Sex Week, which is scheduled for March 2-7, go here.