South Carolina lawmakers voted Wednesday to withdraw about $70,000 in funding from two public colleges that included books with gay themes on their freshman reading lists.
The Columbia State reported that state House budget writers took away $17,000 from the University of South Carolina Upstate for teaching “Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio,” a book about the state’s first gay and lesbian radio show. They also withdrew $52,000 from the College of Charleston for teaching “Fun Home,” which describes the author’s growing up with a closeted gay father and her own coming out as a lesbian. Those amounts were based on the amount of money spent on the required-reading books last year.
The Republican lawmaker who pushed the legislature to punish the colleges for their choice of books told the newspaper that schools shouldn’t force one view on students.
“One of the things I learned over the years is that if you want to make a point, you have to make it hurt,” state Rep. Garry Smith said. “I understand academic freedom, but this is not academic freedom. … This was about promoting one side with no academic debate involved.”
The College of Charleston has already begun considering more than double the amount of books it looked at last year for incoming freshman, a spokesperson told the Columbia State.
One Democrat on the budget committee said if legislators want to meddle in academic oversight, they should run for college trustee instead.
“(We) need to stop running a dictatorship forcing people to believe what we believe,” state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter told the newspaper. “This is a wide, wide world.”
This post has been updated.