Can U. of Tennessee Students Keep a Staple of LGBT Life Afloat?
But two months ago, a new law gave that fight fresh urgency and dimmed the center’s future. Republican state lawmakers stripped $436,000 from the university’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion for a year and diverted the money to engineering scholarships for minority students. The lawmakers said they were acting in response to two posts on the Pride Center’s website — one about using gender-neutral pronouns, the other about avoiding faith-based language — that set off national controversies over political correctness.
The legislation forced the diversity office to close for the 2016-17 academic year. (Its future beyond then is uncertain.) The law didn’t explicitly mention the Pride Center, but because the center operated under the diversity office, university leaders said it had to close, too. The space lost its part-time director, its graduate assistant, and its budget.