On February 20, Republican Representative Gary Smith of South Carolina has submitted a proposal to reduce the budget of two South Carolina colleges that included books about LGBT people in the class curriculum.
The College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate assigned the texts as part of their incoming freshmen orientation programs.
The two books include “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel and “Outloud: The Best of Rainbow Radio.”
“Fun Home,” by Bechdel, best known for her comic “Dykes to Watch Out For,” is a memoir about the writer’s childhood and journey to coming out, all the while under the parental guidance of her deeply closeted father. “Outloud: The Best of Rainbow Radio” is a collection of personal narratives that first aired on Rainbow Radio, ”South Carolina’s first lesbian and gay radio show.”
Though Smith says he, “understands diversity and academic freedom,” he is claiming that the decision to assign these readings, without giving students another option of reading non-LGBT themed works, amounted to the “promotion of a lifestyle with no academic debate.”
According to one student, there was no reason to oppose the curriculum, given that it wasn’t causing an uproar among the student body.
“Only a small group of parents made a huge fuss because they refuse to let their adult children live their lives,” a current student at Charleston College in the state, Catherine Stiers, wrote on a Slate comment board. “News flash y’all; you aren’t on the PTA [Parent Teacher Association] anymore.”
She added, “For those who say no one should go to college in SC looking for a liberal education…that’s so far from reality. Charleston is an extremely liberal city these days, especially around the college scene.”
“This is ridiculous,” another reader wrote. “Perhaps colleges are also wrong to demand that students study algebra before applying.”
Though not all of Smith’s Republican colleagues are behind the initiative, the measure has been tentatively approved by the House budget committee.