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S.C. lawmaker claims university program is designed to recruit lesbians

Monday, April 7, 2014
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina college that recently lost $17,000 in state funds after it assigned students a gay-themed book, has cancelled a solo performance with same-sex themes after a state lawmaker accused the school of trying to recruit lesbians.

Mike Fair

Mike Fair

The University of South Carolina Upstate has cancelled the performance of “How to be a Lesbian In 10 Days or Less,” a comedic coming out story performed by Leigh Hendrix that was scheduled to be part of the school’s upcoming Bodies of Knowledge Symposium, a conference focused on the LGBT community.

But the planned performance has drawn the anger of Republican state Sen. Mike Fair, who says that university students are being “recruited” to become gay.

“It’s just not normal and then you glorify, or it seems to me, that the promotion at USC is glorification of same sex orientation,” Fair said. “That’s not an explanation of ‘I was born this way.’ It’s recruiting.”

Tammy E. Whaley, assistant vice-chancellor for USC Upstate said that “the title of ‘How to Become a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less,’ while deliberately provocative, is satirical in nature but has not been received as such.”

“The controversy surrounding this performance has become a distraction to the educational mission of USC Upstate and the overall purpose of the Bodies of Knowledge symposium. As a result, we have canceled this segment of the symposium,” she said, in a statement to WYFF-TV.

The performance is the latest-themed activity to catch the ire of state legislators.

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Last month, lawmakers voted to cut $70,000 collectively from the College of Charleston and the USC Upstate in retaliation for assigning freshmen to read books dealing with homosexuality.

College of Charleston was penalized more than $52,000 for assigning students to read “Fun Home,” a book by Alison Bechdel that describes her childhood with a closeted gay father and her own coming out as a lesbian. USC Upstate lost $17,000 after it assigned “Out Loud:The Best of Rainbow Radio,” a book about South Carolina’s first gay and lesbian radio show.

Rep. Garry Smith (R), whose House subcommittee made the cuts, said he wanted to make a point after college officials declined to give students an option to read something else. He called the assignment the promotion of a lifestyle.

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