US: South Carolina legislators cut university funding over gay-themed literature

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Legislators in South Carolina have voted to cut $70,000 (£42,000) in funding from two public universities as punishment for recently assigning gay-themed literature to students.

On Wednesday, members of the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to cut $17,000 (£10,200) in funding from the University of South Carolina Upstate and $52,000 (£31,200) from the College of Charleston.

The University of South Carolina had assigned “Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio,” a collection of stories first broadcast on a state radio program, to first-year students

The College of Charleston had assigned “Fun Home,” an autobiography about a young woman growing up in rural Pennsylvania.

Legislators cut funding to equal the amount both universities had spent on the books.

State representative Garry Smith, who pushed for the cuts, told The State newspaper: “One of the things I learned over the years is that if you want to make a point, you have to make it hurt.

“I understand academic freedom, but this is not academic freedom. This was about promoting one side with no academic debate involved.”

Mr Smith also argued that “Fun Home,” which won the Eisner Award, the GLAAD Media Award and the Lambda Literary Award, “could be considered pornography.”

Same-sex marriage is still illegal in the State, although recently a representative filed a bill which would allow married same-sex couples to file joint tax returns.

Last year, the former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party said all trans people “should all be put in a camp”, because they are “sick freaks”.