Looking Out: South Carolina House votes to punish colleges for assigning LGBT-themed books

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By Michael Gold

The Baltimore Sun

1:14 PM EDT, March 13, 2014


Some South Carolina lawmakers weren't thrilled to learn that two public universities assigned books with gay and lesbian themes as reading for students.  

So, in a state budget approved Wednesday by the South Carolina House of Representatives, legislators cut both schools' book-buying budgets. The budget will now go to the South Carolina Senate.

Like many colleges these days, both the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate have first-year reading programs that have freshmen read the same book and discuss it on campus.

For 2013, the College of Charleston assigned "Fun Home," Alison Bechdel's brilliant graphic memoir (seriously, go read this right now) that discusses her coming out and her father's life in the closet, among other things. The school purchased and distributed copies of the novel, but says it wasn't required reading. At USC Upstate, students enrolling in English 101 were asked to read about an LGBT radio station in "Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio."

In retaliation, state representative Garry Smith proposed slashing the schools' budgets, taking away $52,000 from the College of Charleston and $17,162 from USC Upstate. The cuts were approved by a subcomittee, and attempts to reverse them in advance of Wednesday's vote were unsuccessful.

"Freedom comes with responsibility," Smith told The Associated Press. "These universities did not act responsibly."

Turning the page to other news:

That's what caught my eye this week. Any big LGBT news that has you talking?