Lawmaker Criticizes ATU's "Sex on the Lawn" Event

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. - An event at Arkansas Tech University, titled "Sex on the Lawn," caught the eye of a state representative. 

The all-inclusive sex education seminar hosted by a campus LGBT organization didn't sit well with Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville). She took to Facebook, posting, "This is a post from the Arkansas Tech Department of Diversity and Inclusion. As state legislators, we hold the 'purse strings' of the state's budget. Do you think this is an appropriate use of your tax dollars?"

Many students answered "yes," arguing the campus club, SPECTRUM, uses member dues to put on the event. 

"I just wanted to be part of a group that supports the diversity and inclusion of different sexualities," said junior Sydne Lorfing, who joined SPECTRUM this semester. "Realizing that that is a thing that happens, that it is real."

To continue its mission, advocating for acceptance, SPECTRUM is about to host its third-annual "Sex on the Lawn" event, providing booths for people of different sexual orientations, gender identities and disabilities. 

"It's good for students to understand safe sex because I know from my experience going through public school, it was really just about abstinence and staying away from sex," Lorfing said. 

However, some parents answered "no" to Rep. Bentley's question. 

"I don't know that it has a place at our university here locally," said Haskel Hicks, a father of a Tech graduate.

Hicks believes there's a place for sex education on a public college campus but not for an LGBT agenda, which he thinks the event is pushing. 

"Not that I think people don't have the right to be those things," he said. "I just think that it shouldn't be that a state sponsored organization like Arkansas Tech should be funding to do that. I'd like to see it [the event] pulled out of the diversity organization part of it because those matters are for everybody. It's not about diversity." 

However, Lorfing, who plans on attending Thursday's event, argues the ones complaining need to do their homework. 

"It's just trying to educate students on how they can be safer with their bodies and everything here on campus," she said. "No matter your sexuality."

Arkansas Tech released the following statement Monday in response to the event:

"This March will mark the third consecutive year in which SPECTRUM, a registered student organization at Arkansas Tech University, has hosted an event that seeks to provide any interested students with information relevant to sexual health. A few examples of topics include unplanned pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted disease prevention, sexual assault resources, consent and healthy relationships. Arkansas Tech University is content neutral as it relates to the free speech of its students, faculty, staff and registered student organizations and seeks to provide venues for individuals and organizations to share their views in a way that does not interrupt the educational process."

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