Target: Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam
Goal: Keep a university’s diversity office open and allow it to teach students about gender-neutral pronouns.
The Tennessee General Assembly recently approved a bill that would eliminate state funding for the University of Tennessee’s diversity office and ban university administrators from teaching students about gender-neutral pronouns. According to The Huffington Post, this bill would also prohibit the university from providing funding for the students’ annual “Sex Week” events. This bill is a blatant violation of freedom of speech, and it is obviously motivated by bias against transgender and non-binary individuals.
This bill is only the latest in a series of bills at the state level which have attempted to dehumanize transgender people, such as North Carolina’s infamous “bathroom bill.” Conservative lawmakers are clearly uncomfortable with the idea that transgender non-binary people exist, and think they can erase them by attempting to ban gender-neutral pronouns. However, the legislature should have no jurisdiction over what pronouns University of Tennessee administrators want to use and promote.
If the state eliminates funding for the University of Tennessee’s diversity office, students at the university may not be able to get the help and support they need, and valuable education efforts could be undermined. The same is true if the university is barred from funding Sex Week, which provides valuable information and resources to students.
Sign the petition below to encourage the governor of Tennessee to veto this bill and protect free speech and minority student rights on college campuses.
Dear Governor Haslam,
As you are already aware, the Tennessee General Assembly recently passed a bill which would remove all state funding for the University of Tennessee’s diversity office, and ban university administrators from promoting gender-neutral pronouns. I want to encourage you to veto this bill, as it is a blatant violation of free speech which is obviously motivated by bigotry.
Several states have recently passed bills which have attempted to dehumanize gay or transgender people, such as North Carolina’s infamous “bathroom bill.” Tennessee has now become the latest state to write legislation which obviously aims to suppress the rights of transgender and non-binary people. Surely you can see that this bill would be an unjust restriction of free speech. The state should not be controlling the pronouns that its universities teach.
This bill would also prohibit the university from providing funding for Sex Week, only because state lawmakers disagree with the sexually liberal attitudes the event promotes. To attempt to manipulate college activities in this way is a gross abuse of power.
I hope that you will veto this bill to send a message that Tennessee values free speech and does not approve of xenophobia.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mark & Andrea Busse