On March 12, the S.C. House of Representatives passed a budget that cut funding for the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate by $52,000 and $17,163, respectively– the precise amounts each college spent on gay-themed books for first-year students. In a joint letter, NCAC criticized attempts by the South Carolina State Legislature to punitively defund state universities that assigned LGBT-themed books to students.
“The proposed budget cuts are designed to punish the schools solely because some members of the legislature don’t approve of certain books being taught,” said Executive Director Joan Bertin in a public statement. “The Supreme Court has sent a clear message over decades: lawmakers may not prohibit the expression of ideas simply because they find them to be offensive.”
The letter was co-signed by the ACLU of South Carolina, the American Association of University Professors, the Modern Language Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Association of American Publishers, the National Council of Teachers of English and the American Library Association. The letter was sent to members of the State Senate Finance Committee in advance of senate debate over the budget.
The College of Charleston selected Alison Bechdel’s coming-of-age graphic novel Fun Home as its group read for first-year students, while USC Upstate assigned gay poet and professor Ed Madden’s Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio as summer reading for introductory English courses.