Tennessee lawmakers pass scaled-down bill to defund UT diversity office

UT Diversity Matters coalition member Dana McLemore lays down on the Joe Johnson/John Ward University Mall on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at the University of Tennessee. The protest comes as the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday sent to the Senate floor a bill to shift funding from salaries in the University of Tennessee's Office for Diversity and Inclusion on the Knoxville campus into scholarships for minority students in engineering programs.
photo Sen. Todd Gardenhire

NASHVILLE - State lawmakers today took final action on a bill defunding the University of Tennessee's Office for Diversity and Inclusion, adopting a scaled-down version that devotes one year's funding to minority engineering scholarships.

The House and Senate adopted a conference report that used a compromise developed by Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, sponsor of the Senate bill.

Some other Republican lawmakers want to strip funding permanently in light of the office's actions or suggestions or programs they found offensive such as suggested use of gender neural pronouns and to avoid letting holiday parties become a "Christmas Party" and the Knoxville campus' "Sex Week."

Instead, the office's $436,000 in funding goes for what may be as many as 100 scholarships for minority students.