For months, a student group at the University of Tennessee called SEAT (Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee) has been organizing an event called Sex Week, designed to "foster a comprehensive and academically-informed conversation about sex, sexuality, and relationships with the purpose of educating the University of Tennessee student body and the Knoxville community through innovative, collaborative, and entertaining programming and events." The budget to support the event had been established, until Chancellor Jimmy Cheek announced on March 20, 2013 that state tax and tuition dollars will no longer be available as funding because of pressure from the state legislature. Although the organization raised enough funding through other vehicles, including private donations and increased funding by the Central Programming Committee at the university, the state legislature continues to harass UT about the event, demanding that Cheek and other administrators "explain the academic merits" of the seminars and talks that will be featured during Sex Week.
An event like Sex Week, which is designed to educate students about sex and will feature topics from diverse perspectives including "Religion and Sexuality" and "How Can UTK Prevent Sexual Assault?", is designed to do exactly what the legislators are questioning: to provide "academically-informed" discussions about a wide number of topics related to sex. Sex education is absolutely critical in our day and age, especially for young people. Please sign this petition to encourage Chancellor Cheek and other UT administrators to stand up for Sex Week, sex education, free speech, and the will of the student body when and if the school must defend the program in front of conservative, backward-thinking legislators.