South Carolina House Votes to Financially Punish Colleges That Assigned Gay Books

The South Carolina House refused on Monday to restore book purchasing budget cuts assigned to College of Charleston and University of South Carolina Upstate after the two institutions of higher learning taught literature dealing with homosexual content. Totaling nearly $70,000, the cuts reflect the amount of money the institutions spent on buying texts for the freshman class this year. Some saw the cuts as censorial attempts to limit what can be taught in colleges, while the majority argued vehemently that teaching Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and a book about an LGBT radio station, Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio promoted "a lifestyle" that they do not agree with.

Gildacobb-hunterAssociated Press reports:

When it comes to public colleges, legislators should be debating funding and building construction, not "pushing our own moral agenda on these institutions of higher learning," said Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (right), D-Orangeburg.

"Are we saying we don't trust the college students enough to expose them to something they may not have seen before? We can't let you read anything other than what we believe?" she asked. "What about the notion of freedom to have different views? Isn't this what we go all over the globe fighting for?"

Some thought, however, that making the books mandatory reading took it all a step too far.

GarrysmithRep. Garry Smith (right), whose subcommittee made the reductions, said he wanted to make a point after college officials declined to give students an option to read something else. He said he wouldn't oppose the books if they were part of an elective course. He called it promotion of a lifestyle.

"Freedom comes with responsibility. These universities did not act responsibly," said Smith, R-Simpsonville.

Rep. Wendy Nanney, R-Greenville, said opponents of the cuts argue for a diversity of ideas but don't want to consider conservatives' viewpoint. After House Speaker Bobby Harrell rejected Smith's suggestions to project illustrations from "Fun Home" on the House screen, Nanney said, "It's not appropriate to even put up in this room but we're giving it to 18-year-old kids?"

Sadly, it might just be that Representatives Smith and Nanney are less mature than the "18-year-old kids" who read the texts.

College of Charleston President George Benson said the university is committed to academic freedom, and any university education must include the opportunity for students to engage controversial ideas…

"Our students are adults, and we will treat them as such," Benson said. "Faculty, not politicians, ultimately must decide what textbooks are selected and how those materials are taught."


  1. JackFknTwist says

    Oh Garry Smith, you cascading fool, even the Vatican has abolished its Index of Banned books.

    Shouldn’t you wake up from your 19th century torpor ?
    And Garry , being completely bigoted and bitter is out; try being inclusive, make friends, get out and meet people with opinions which are not taken from their One Book Creeds,(Koran,Bible, Mormon, Dianetics,) and please forget those loons with the fish on their cars.
    I mean, that’s just certifiable, right ?

  2. Craig says

    Enchantra – that was my thought. I had to buy my books in college. Also, I never read any gay themed books growing up or in college and somehow I turned out gay. I blame that on being forced to read the tragedy of Romeo and Juliette. If that was what straight relationships were like, screw that!

  3. says

    Suppression of University syllabus (free speech) by defunding because it doesn’t reflect a conservative (religious) view. Stated on legislative record as such. Students reading books about the civil rights struggle of LGBT should have to reflect a conservative narrative otherwise it’s propaganda? Where are Olsen/Boies, Roberta Kaplan, Llamda Legal?

    The obvious analogy question is would they dare suppress books on the historical civil rights struggles of women, Native Americans, African Americans, and immigrants that showed information that contradicted a conservative view? They do this against LGBT because they think they can get away with it.

    The actions and words of conservative legislators yet again shows quite clearly the need for inclusion of SO/GI as a protected class in anti-discrimination laws.

  4. Rees Cramer says

    The irony is the schools will keep the books in the classes and now because they made such a ruckus, the students will read every page. Way to get them to read Republicans.

  5. Bill says

    @enchantra : the colleges were not buying the books but rather requiring the students to read the books, whether the students purchased the books or borrowed them from a library, or whatever.

    The budget cut was meant to “punish” the college by making it charge the students a higher tuition, so actually they are punishing the students.

    @wolf: it is constitutional as they are simply reducing the amount of money the state will give to the college, and states can set that amount as they wish. Laws based on idiotic public policies can be constitutional.

    For instance, it is constitutional to set the value of pi to three for purposes of computing the area used in property-tax computations for a circular plot of land. It is not legal to pass a law forbidding jokes about the level of education of whoever would vote for such a silly law. If they passed a law setting pi to three for such purposes, the interesting case would be that of a math professor who owned a square piece of property and computed its value as the sum of the taxable areas of infinite set of disjoint circles such that each point was within some circle. The professor would, of course, prove that the sum converged. He would use terms such as “measure” and “sigma algebras”

  6. Komit says

    Liberal agenda. Smith wanted to allow students to opt out but thats not what you want. Some people find talking openly about a private matter offensive. If you want to tell everyone about your sexual preference thats your business but you have not right to subjugate others to your idea of inclusiveness. And exactly what does homosexuality have to do with higher education? This is why america is lagging behind other countries while were demanding schools teach strait kids its ok to be gay the rest of the world is crunching numbers equations and formulas. You liberals are truly destroying this country.

  7. says

    KOMIT – the rest of the world is doing”better” because we’re decades ahead of you in terms of understanding and embracing LGBT Equality in cuture, law and policy.

    You and your kind are stupid because you’re so busy hating gays your forgot how to do anything else, and don’t have a proper education. If you were pro-gay, you’d be smarter. Fun fact – anti-gay folks are the nation’s plebes. 😀

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