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State House Votes To Redirect Funding For UT Diversity Office, Citing 'Divisiveness'

The University of Tennessee's Office of Diversity and Inclusion has been a target for conservative state lawmakers who dislike some of its guidance on Christmas and gender neutral pronouns.
The University of Tennessee's Office of Diversity and Inclusion has been a target for conservative state lawmakers who dislike some of its guidance on Christmas and gender neutral pronouns.

Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives have voted to strip roughly $5 million funding from the University of Tennessee's Office of Diversity and Inclusion. That's all of the agency's funding.

The move is meant to shut down a program that drew attention last year for suggesting the use of gender neutral pronouns and for recommending Christmas parties be referred to as holiday celebrations.

Those were just the latest actions on the UT Knoxville campus that have irked conservatives in the Tennessee legislature, like Rep. Roger Kane, R-Knoxville.

"There is diversity, but what this center does is it creates a sense of divisiveness," Kane said Monday night, just before the chamber approved the funding change.

The House measure would take money for the diversity office and split it between scholarships for minority students and decals for police cruisers that say "In God We Trust."

The state Senate is working on a separate plan to defund the diversity office. It, too, would put money into minority scholarships but not the "In God We Trust" stickers.

Copyright 2016 WPLN News