The Tennessee Legislature REALLY Doesn't Like “Sex Week”

If you were to make a list of the big problems faced by the sex education system in any American state, where would you start? The level of funding? The quality of public education? The high school dropout rate, perhaps?

Well, if you’re a legislator in Tennessee, evidently, the top educational priority you’d have would be cracking down on Sex Week at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, because it’s “not education” but the glorification of “depravity” which “takes the name of the university and drags it through the trash.”

sex week protest

Heck, if you were a legislator in Tennessee, you might even spend six years wringing your hands over Sex Week, passing resolutions which “condemns the administration of the University of Tennessee” and “expresses its displeasure with the University for permitting Sex Week to be held on the UT-Knoxville campus.”

Most all though, what you’d need is to commission the state’s Comptroller’s Office to write a freaking 269-page report which lays out all the options for reining in sex week – including a bunch of options that will serve only to get the state sued on First Amendment grounds.

Read all about this insane moral panic over Sex Week in Calico’s latest post: “The Tennessee Legislature REALLY Doesn’t Like Sex Week.”

by Calico Rudasill, Porn For Women

Back when I was in college, there was no such thing as “Sex Week” on any campus of which I’m aware. The first time I became aware of such an event on a college campus was when Yale College introduced their version, back in the early aughts.

We may not have had official events which celebrated sex or which sought to educate people on the subject, but what we did have – and what I assume most other campuses had, as well – was quite a large number of sexually active college students.

Hell, I’ll even go way out on a limb and suggest most college campuses have always been places where a fair amount of of sex was taking place. I don’t think I’m the only one who believes this to be the case, either.

Seeing as how the average college student is likely to be having sex anyway, one might think we could all agree that having events which explore, explain and give people a forum to express themselves about sex is a good thing. Heck, maybe there are even some politicians out there who would agree it’s a good idea for colleges to encourage discussion of sex – just not in Tennessee.


To hear the pols who want to shut down Sex Week at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville tell it, the university’s annual event is more like Bacchanalian orgy than a student-led event.

“What we have seen in the conduct, for example, of Sex Week on the UTK campus, is not education. It’s not even the free exchange of ideas,” wrote State Senator Dolores Gresham, who chairs the Tennessee Senate’s Education Committee. “It seeks nothing more than to glorify depravity, and it takes the name of the university and drags it through the trash that we have seen touted as educational in lofty phrases and terms.”

“Human sexuality is a legitimate academic field of inquiry and should be approached in a scholarly manner,” Gresham added. “It is not a circus by which the dignity of the human person is denigrated and besmirched. What a betrayal.”

Somehow, I get the feeling that if the UTK students who organize the event were willing to have a Sex Week in which everyone was instructed that sex was something very serious and solemn which should only happen between married, heterosexual people strictly for the purpose of procreation, Sen. Gresham would have less to say about it.

Of course, the students would have less to say about it that way too – mostly because they’d stop attending and/or giving a shit about what anyone involved in the event had to say.

By the Time the Legislature Comes Up with a Plan to Address Sex Week, Current Students Will be Retirees

Illustrating just how much time, effort, thought and angst the Tennessee General Assembly has devoted to wringing its hands over Sex Week at UTK, the state’s Comptroller of the Treasury recently issued a 269-page report on the subject.

So far, my favorite thing in the report comes in a section of its executive summary, where the Comptroller’s Office discusses responses from five UT officials to the question of whether the school’s administration has been “tone deaf” in its response to legislators’ concerns about Sex Week.

The officials responded that “the university has done all that it can legally do,” considering that if they moved to outright ban Sex Week, they could easily run afoul of the First Amendment and find themselves being sued by students associated with the event.

Former UT System President Joe DiPietro takes home the Grand Prize for sarcasm in response to that inquiry: “Maybe it’s best for us to get into a legal suit, to show people that we aren’t being tone deaf.”

Sex Week May Not Be Tennessee’s Most Pressing Educational Issue…

I sure hope that remark of DiPietro’s was sarcasm, anyway, because this campaign by the legislatures to shut down Sex Week has already wasted enough time, money and energy to last well into the next decade.

“As a direct result of Sex Week, legislation has been passed, university policy has been changed, legislative hearings focused on the event have been held, and some gubernatorial appointees to the university’s Board of Trustees failed to receive the necessary votes from state legislators for confirmation,” the Comptroller’s report states.

Five years ago, the state’s House of Representatives “formally condemned the organizers of Sex Week with the passage of House Joint Resolution 661.”

“(T)his Body hereby condemns the administration of the University of Tennessee and expresses its displeasure with the University for permitting ‘Sex Week’ to be held on the UT-Knoxville campus for a second consecutive year,” the House wrote in HJR 661.

Really guys? You seriously took the time to draft an official tsk-tsk because college students organized an event which featured “an aphrodisiac cooking class, drag show, and condom scavenger hunt”?

Here’s a thought for all these Tennessee pols: Instead of spending your time wagging your collective finger at the organizers of UTK’s Sex Week, maybe they could expend similar energy and devote the same sort of passion to addressing the overall quality of education in the state?
It’s food for thought, at least – and aphrodisiac-free food, at that!

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