Bill advances to cut diversity, buy ‘In God We Trust’ decals

A Tennessee House panel voted Tuesday to strip $100,000 from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and instead direct the money for printing decals stating “In God We Trust” for placement on police cars, reports the Times-Free Press.

Members of the Education Administration and Planning Committee approved the bill, sponsored by Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Gray.

The bill also bars the university from using funds to promote the annual “Sex Week” observance or any “gender neutral pronoun” policy. Nor could funds be used to “promote or inhibit” celebrations of religious holidays.

…House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, told colleagues they were overreaching by moving to strip funds for non-education purposes.

“Is that what we’re going to do?” he asked. “We’re going to print some decals. Certainly we have the right, certainly we have the power. But sometimes power is best wielded when it’s not. These guys [UT] screwed up but we cannot have a knee-jerk reaction to this.”

Van Huss said his bill, which has been amended, is “definitely not a knee-jerk reaction. These are taxpayer funds. These are my constituents’ dollars going to fund this department.”

…Rep. Rick Womick, R-Murfreesboro, defended Van Huss’ bill and attacked suggestions that one official put on a UT website about use of non-gender-specific pronouns like “ze” and “hir.”

“That’s insanity,” Womick said. “That’s the English language. Just because someone had a sex change you’re not going to hurt their feelings.”

Apparently alluding to Sex Week, Womick said, “If you want to fornicate, go do it privately, not on tax dollars. That offends me.”

UPDATE/NOTE: In the Senate, sponsoring Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, has taken the bill “off notice” — generally a signal that he’s not going to pursue a vote on it. See The Tennessean account, HERE.