Legislators look to defund ATU department over sex education event 'Sex on the Lawn'

Legislator looks to defund Arkansas Tech Department

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - Arkansas legislators are threatening to defund an Arkansas Tech University department over a sex education event called "Sex on the Lawn."

The event was held by Spectrum, an LGBTQ organization at Tech, that said the event looks to "provide knowledge about practicing safe sex for everyone."

But, Representative Trevor Drown (R-Dover) claimed it's the name of the event that isn't going over well with people in the River Valley.

Drown filed a proposed amendment to House Bill 1213 which would effectively take away all funding from Arkansas Tech's Department of Diversity and Inclusion.

The amendment reads:

"Arkansas Tech University shall not budget, allocate, commit for expenditure or expend any funding for the Arkansas Tech Department of Diversity and Inclusion or its successor."

Now, students and professors at Tech are up in arms.

“Taking away a department that's only goal is to help increase diversity and help promote inclusion on campus doesn't make sense to me,” said student Emma Scarbrough.

Doctor Sean Huss, a professor of sociology at Tech said the amendment is not only going to affect programs but it'll impact the faculty and more importantly, the students.

Drown, however, claimed that this proposal is entirely constituent lead.

“We have to keep diverting our attention to Arkansas Tech because of the complaints we are getting,” he said.

He claimed the event wasn't just about sex education because he received pictures from the event of sex toys displayed on tables.

“We do not want the reputation to get out that Arkansas Tech University or this community acts in that manner,” he said of the event.

Drown said another reason he proposed the amended was because the "Sex on the Lawn" flyer also had the department's name at the bottom. That's not something he wants $155,000 of taxpayer money to go to.

President of Arkansas Tech University, Dr. Robin E. Bowen released a statement saying she was "dismayed, but not discouraged" about the amendment.

“To put it in the simplest terms, doing away with this Department of Diversity and Inclusion would limit opportunities for higher education and that is wrong," she continued in the statement. "We will work with legislators to ensure they understand the important of such offices not only at Arkansas Tech University, but at universities and colleges throughout our state."

As for the students, they say they still don't understand the legislators decision.

“Everyone wants to be included and everyone deserves to be included in a space of education,” Scarbrough said.

Students and professors said they will continue to fight for their department while legislature Drown said he will continue to fight for the people of the River Valley.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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