Gay alumni fundraise for U of Tennessee LGBTQ center after state defunds it
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Gay alumni of the University of Tennessee are leading an effort to privately fund the institution’s Pride Center after state lawmakers voted to defund the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Tennessee state lawmakers voted in 2016 to defund the diversity office, citing requests to be sensitive to students’ preferred pronouns and its backing of a week of educational programs about sex, including ones about preventing sexual assault and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

The defunding of the office essentially cut off funds for the Pride Center, NBC News reported.

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Chad Goldman, a University of Tennessee alumnus, is leading the effort to create a $3 million endowment for the center.

Goldman, who is gay, said the office didn’t exist when he attended the university.

“When you’re a young person of that age, life can be challenging enough already, and you’re trying to figure out your way, figure out who you are,” he told NBC. “When you are coming to grips with being gay or LGBTQ ... it makes it all that more difficult.”

He said that when he visited campus in 2016 and saw the center, he was “very excited for the students there now who are figuring out who they are.”

"Now they have a very obvious place with a name on the door they can go to if they are wondering, or if they just want some scholarship, or they just want to go to a place where they feel like they belong,” Goldman said.

University of Tennessee Chancellor Beverly Davenport asked Goldman to lead the fundraising efforts after he and his husband raised $9,000 for the center at their annual Super Bowl party last year, according to NBC.

They raised another $300,000 at a fundraiser earlier this month and are planning on holding more events, in addition to an online campaign.

“If we can [raise $300,000] in one single night, I feel very confident that we are going to get there,” Goldman said of reaching the $3 million fundraising goal.