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Tennessee university caves on ‘Sex Week’ after Fox News ‘lesbian bondage’ complaint

By David Edwards
Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:21 EDT
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Fox News radio host Todd Starnes
 
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The University of Tennessee has decided to pull state funding from an effort to educate students about sexual health and empowerment after a Fox News contributor complained that the school was giving the money to a “lesbian bondage” expert.

Last week, Fox News radio host Todd Starnes warned that the university was going to spend up to $20,000 on a six-day “Sex Week” that included events like “Loud and Queer” and an oral sex workshop called “How Many Licks Does It Take.”

Starnes noted that erotica author Sinclair Sexsmith, who runs the “Sugarbutch Chronicles: The Sex, Gender and Relationship Adventures of a Kinky Queer Butch Top” website, would be conducting a workshop on poetry about sexuality.

The Fox News radio host seemed most interested in the fact that Sexsmith was an “expert in sexuality and leather,” even though she told the network that she would “not be engaging in lesbian bondage demonstrations.”

But Starnes’ breathless headline, “University of Tennessee Uses Student Fees to Host Lesbian Bondage Expert,” got the attention of Christian websites and state Sen. Stacey Campfield (R), who threatened to reconsider the university’s budget over Sex Week.

“We are not talking about health and safety to do a drag show. What are these issues so important for?” Campfield told WATE. “This is not something that the parents sent their kids to school to learn, this is not even close, we have some serious issues going on at the University of Tennessee.”

And on Wednesday, the school caved and promised not to use state funds for the event.

“We support the process and the students involved, but we should not use state funds in this manner,” Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said in a statement.

Sex Week organizer Haslam Scholar Brianna Rader, however, promised that the event would go on as planned.

“We felt pretty blindsided,” Rader explained to Metro Pulse. “Despite the controversy, the administration was still pretty positive about it earlier this week.”

“This whole thing makes it more important to do this. People are getting upset about college kids talking about sex education? This sounds made up. This sounds like we’re in a movie,” she added. “It was a cowardly move, and I’m disappointed in them.”

Rader encouraged supporters to donate to the Sex Week UT website and sign a petition calling for the chancellor to reinstate event funding.

Watch this video from WATE, broadcast March 15, 2013.

 

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
 
 
 
 
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