South Carolina Legislators Vote to Cut University Funding for Assigning LGBT Books

By Jase Peeples

Originally published on Advocate.com March 09 2014 3:46 PM ET

Two South Carolina public universities may soon find their budgets slashed as punishment for assigning LGBT-inclusive books to students, reports CNN.

Both the University of South Carolina Upstate and the College of Charleston had incorporated LGBT issues and history into their curriculum, which has now prompted some of the state’s Republican legislators to propose a budget cut for the 2014-2015 fiscal year in order to teach the public universities a lesson.

A budget that would strip the University of South Carolina Upstate of $17, 162 and the College of Charleston of $52, 000, will be voted on by the state’s House of Representative this week. But the proposed cuts have drawn outrage from a number of students, faculty and alumni who have voiced their disapproval on a website that was created to protest the slashing of the budget.

"I am a gay USC Upstate faculty member and a proud CofC alumnus...and SC is my home too,” read one post. “I won't stand by and let my academic freedom AND my civil rights be devalued."

However, Republican Rep. Garry Smith said he proposed the cuts after receiving an email from a concerned parent whose 17-year-old daughter would be attending the College of Charleston and was upset because the university offered no options for students who were offended by LGBT subject matter. "I think the university has to be reasonable and sensible to the feelings and beliefs of their students. That was totally ignored here. I was trying to hold the university accountable," Smith told CNN. "Their stance is 'Even if you don't want to read it, we'll shove it down your throat.' It's not academic freedom -- it's academic totalitarianism."

The proposed budget, which includes the cuts, has already passed the Higher Educations subcommittee and the House Ways & Means committe with no signs of slowing down. If approved by the state’s House this week, the budget would then move to the state Senate and finally to Republican Governor Nikki Haley, whose office has yet to respond to requests for comment.