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Advocacy groups are criticizing a vote by South Carolina legislators to cut the budgets of two universities that recommended gay-themed books — including Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home — to incoming freshmen as an attack on free speech and academic freedom.
“This kind of censorship not only threatens the core of academic freedom but also inhibits the free exchange of ideas so important to progress,” Victoria Middleton, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina, said in a statement issued jointly with South Carolina Equality. “The First Amendment was intended to protect all speech – even speech we don’t agree with — and politicians shouldn’t be in the business of dictating what we think.”
The state House Ways and Means committee voted 13-10 on Wednesday to cut $52,000 from the College of Charleston, which came under fire last year for its selection of Bechdel’s acclaimed 2006 memoir for its summer reading program, and $17,142 from the University of South Carolina Upstate, which assigned Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio, about South Carolina’s first gay and lesbian radio show. The figures represent the amount each college spent on the programs.
A South Carolina university that came under fire over the summer for including the gay-themed Fun Home as recommended reading for incoming freshmen now may see its state funding reduced for the decision.
The Charleston Post and Courier reports the state House Ways and Means committee on Wednesday approved a budget that would cut $52,000 from the College of Charleston’s summer reading program in retaliation for recommending Alison Bechdel’s Eisner Award-winning 2006 memoir as part of “The College Reads!” (Contrary to widespread reports, the graphic novel wasn’t required reading.)
According to the newspaper, the 13-10 vote came after a lengthy debate in which “some House members accused the college of promoting a gay agenda and forcing pornography on its students.”
The University of South Carolina Upstate also faces a loss of more than $17,000 for assigning Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio, about South Carolina’s first gay and lesbian radio show. The figures represent the amount each college spent on the programs.