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Current Page: U.S. | Monday, April 06, 2015
'Sex Week' at Univ. of Tenn. Includes Revenge Porn, Sex Toys and 'Loosening Up the Bible Belt' — Are Churches Opening Up to Gay Marriage, Porn and Switching Genders?

'Sex Week' at Univ. of Tenn. Includes Revenge Porn, Sex Toys and 'Loosening Up the Bible Belt' — Are Churches Opening Up to Gay Marriage, Porn and Switching Genders?

A panel on religion and sexuality held as part of the University of Tennessee's 2014 "sex week." | (Photo: Courtesy of Brianna Rader)

The University of Tennesse's "sex week" will go on as scheduled this week, despite efforts to challenge funding for the event.

Organized by the group Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee, sex week starts on Monday and runs through Saturday, April 11.

In years past, the event has included the distribution of "condom flowers" and the wearing of penis costumes.

Colleen Ryan, executive board member of SEAT, told The Christian Post that sex week is part of "the movement of college campuses around the country in encouraging healthy and inclusive conversations about such critical issues."

"Our student-driven mission is why we have really made more explicit our focus on sexual assault prevention and the importance of consent," Ryan added.

"Sex Week 2015 will have events such as our sexual assault roundtable, our seminar on creating a healthy sexuality, and our workshop by Megan Andelloux on practicing consent and communication with your partners."

In 2013, university officials and state lawmakers announced that taxpayer dollars were not going to be used to fund the events of sex week, which reportedly included a golden condom scavenger hunt and a lesbian bondage expert.

"Some activities planned as part of sex week are not an appropriate use of state tax dollars," stated university system president Joe DiPietro.

"The university's three-part mission is to provide education, research and public service, and the state allocates this funding to help us fulfill the mission."

Ryan of SEAT told CP that sex week is "able to receive funding support from the university now in a couple of ways."

(Photo: Reuters)

"Specific academic departments can sponsor relevant events, such as the religious studies department sponsoring one of our religion-focused events, or the English department sponsoring one of our literature and creative writing events," said Ryan.

Tennessee continues to make it harder for sex week to get funds, as Ryan explained that much of the funding "has always come from a pool of student programming fees."

"Last year in a move to reduce our funding, our state passed legislation requiring a new 'opt-in' procedure regarding student programming fees," Ryan said.

"Now, in order for a student's money to go into the pool of programming funding, they must opt-in or that money will go elsewhere at the university. As such, we have had to rely much more heavily on outside sources. We also receive private donations and apply for grant funding."

Sex week was first held at Yale University in 2002 and spread to other institutes of higher education including Harvard and Brown.

Supporters have argued that sex week events provide useful and necessary sex education to students while critics have argued that they celebrate harmful and dangerous promiscuity.

Events scheduled for this year's sex week at the university includes a drag show, as well as discussions on revenge porn, religious views on sexual ethics, the "science of orgasm," the "ethics of sex work," a discussion on abstinence and virginity, and a panel titled "Loosening up the Bible Belt," which is said to include topics on how churches in the South are dealing with those who fell that internet porn, gay marriage and switching genders are morally acceptable.

Emily Hill, president of UT's Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship, told CP that she felt sex week "reflects sexual brokenness and people living in sin" but also "reflects the need for a greater understanding of sex that parents definitely don't provide."

"One of the greatest issues that it addresses is sexual assault on campus by working to define consent and dialogue with people about it through creative outlets," Hill said.

"We have a huge issue with sexual assault and date rape on our campus ... this dialogue is a necessity. … There are other aspects of sex week that are very educational as well."

When asked by CP how Christians should approach sex week, Hill of Chi Alpha replied that it should be "without condemnation and contempt."

"We're not going to get anywhere by calling people sinners and whores ... that's what a street preacher does on our campus. He goes up to girls and actually calls them whores. Is that Christ's love? No," Hill continued.

"You can't just call the people organizing and participating in sex week sinners and be done with it ... they really think they are trying to accomplish good things and you have to step back and respect that, and work in conjunction to start dialogue and create events within your own organization to address the sin and what the Bible says about sex as well as amplify the good aspects from the events."

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