S.C. Won't Restore Funds to Colleges Over Gay Books

Tuesday, 11 Mar 2014 02:07 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The GOP-controlled South Carolina House of Representatives has refused to restore funding to two state colleges that were punished for assigning gay-themed books to students.

The College of Charleston had $52,000 in state funds cut from its budget after "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,'' a critically acclaimed graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, was assigned to students taking a summer reading program.

And the University of South Carolina-Upstate was docked $17,000 after "Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio," edited by Candace Chellew-Hodge and Ed Madden, was assigned for a first-year reading program.

Lawmakers had made the cuts stating the gay-themed reading material did not reflect the community standards of state taxpayers.

The House’s minority Democrats had pushed several amendments to have the funding restored, but they were rejected four times Monday by votes of 69-41, 70-43, 71-40, and 71-38.

Proponents of the restoration attempts said college students are adults who should study a wide variety of ideas, The State newspaper reported.

"Are we saying that we don’t trust the students in the state to expose them to something they have not seen before or expose them to an ideology that may be foreign to them?" Democratic state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg said.

But state Rep. Garry Smith of Greenville, who was behind the pulling of the funds, said the material promoted a lifestyle and did not reflect community standards, according to The State. He said he would not object to the books if they were part of elective courses.

"Fun Home," describes the author's childhood with a closeted gay dad and her own sexual awakening as a lesbian. "Out Loud"  tells the history of the Palmetto State's first gay and lesbian radio show.

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