Society

S.C. Cuts Funding for College Reading Program, Senator Says It's 'Recruiting' Gays

| by Allison Geller

South Carolina lawmakers voted to defund a Spartanburg university reading program because it allegedly glorifies homosexuality.

The House voted last month to cut $17,146 from University of South Carolina Upstate's budget—the exact cost of the institution’s reading program. Conservative representatives took issue with this year’s required book, “Out Loud:  The Best of Rainbow Radio,” a short story collection from South Carolina’s first gay radio show.

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"It's just not normal and then you glorify, or it seems to me, that the promotion at USC is a glorification of same sex orientation,” said Republican state Sen. Mike Fair.

Fair went so far as to state that the school is “recruiting” gay people. The University booked a show called "How to Become a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less."

“That's not an explanation of 'I was born this way.’  It's recruiting,” said Fair.

The assistant vice chancellor for university communications Tammy E. Whaley told WYFF in a statement that the University had cancelled the show.

“The title of ‘How to Become a Lesbian in 10 days or Less,’ while deliberately provocative, is satirical in nature but has not been received as such. The controversy surrounding this performance has become a distraction to the educational mission of USC upstate and the overall purpose of the bodies of knowledge symposium. As a result, we have cancelled this segment of the symposium,” Whaley wrote.

The South Carolina legislature also cut funding for a College of Charleston reading program that had assigned a gay-themed book, the graphic novel "Fun Home."

Joan Bertin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, warned against the ominous implications of government censorship on university reading material.

“It’s unconstitutional, it’s bad policy, and it’s bad for students,” she said. “What kind of message does this send to students in the state, regardless of their sexual orientation? [It sends the message that they] should keep their mouths shut and their minds closed,” Bertin told Publisher’s Weekly in response to the spate of funding cuts in South Carolina colleges.

Gail Stephenson, president of Upstate Pride at USC Upstate, remarked that other programs could be axed due to the legislature’s views.

“Diversity is diversity.  And we can't just say we are going to choose this part of diversity, but we're not going to choose this part of diversity.  Then what's next?  Are we going to cut out women's studies?  Racial integration?” Stephenson said.

Sources: WYFF, Publisher’s Weekly