Knoxville church helps raise funds for UT Sex Week

Knoxville church helps raise funds for UT Sex Week


6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The controversy continues tonight over the University of Tennessee's upcoming Sex Week.

UT Sex Week is a student-organized event covering a number of topics about sex, gender and sexuality.

After criticism from state lawmakers, the university pulled more than $11,000 worth of state funding for the event.

Now, supporters of Sex Week are working to make up that deficit, and they're getting some help from a Knoxville church.

Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church is located just down the street from UT's campus, and during their services Sunday morning, they're trying to be the best neighbors they can be.

They're donating 100 percent of the money collected during the service to help fund Sex Week.

"This is really a faith in action thing for us. The efforts of students at UT to offer that kind of programming is vitally important, and we see it as part of our ministry to support that," said Youth Religious Education Director Kim Mason, of TVUUC.

Organizers believe that open conversation about sexuality in a safe environment is essential.

"Supporting Sex Week can go a long way towards helping students better understand themselves and the community that they're in," said Mason.

TVUUC itself offers a comprehensive sex education program for members.

Church goers tell 6 News they are excited to help make Sex Week possible for UT students.

"They can choose not to have access to it. They don't have to go to any of these events, but if they want this kind of information then it should be provided," said TVUUC member Lizzie Roper, a former UT student.

Member Jeffrey Kovac, who is also a UT professor and sponsor of Sex Week, says while some of the event's content may be controversial, he sees it as necessary.

"It's true that there's some stuff that's a bit edgy, but there's a lot of stuff like talking about your virginity, how to talk to your doctor about sex, and how to talk to your parents about sex," said Kovac.

The donations from TVUUC mean a lot to Sex Week student coordinators.

"It was a really big shock to us to get that funding pulled and not get that support from our state and our administration, but then to see all these Knoxville community members help us out, it makes me feel really fulfilled," said Sex Week Co-Chair Brianna Rader.

TVUUC raised $870.62 on Sunday.

That money will go to the students behind Sex Week as early as Monday.

UT Sex Week is scheduled to take place April 5 through 12.

Sex Week is still receiving $6,700 from UT student programming money.

UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek made the decision to withdraw the state funding.

A spokesperson for Cheek said he is not commenting beyond a released statement where he said: "We support the process and the students involved, but we should not use state funds in this manner."

He also said that the decision was Cheek's alone and that no approval process was necessary.

Campfield told 6 News Thursday that while denying state funds for Sex Week is a step in the right direction, he wants all funding to be withdrawn including the money from student programming.

"They're still using student dollars that are not something that kids have an opportunity or parents have an opportunity to opt out of," Campfield said. "I don't think that's something that the parents pay their kids tuition to go to school for."

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