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S.C. Senate panel rejects budget cuts to colleges that assigned gay-themed books

Thursday, May 1, 2014
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Senate’s budget-writing committee has rejected an effort to punish two South Carolina universities for assigning gay-themed books to freshmen.

South Carolina statehouse in ColumbiaAP

South Carolina statehouse in Columbia

Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler on Wednesday recommended adopting the House’s proposed $70,000 cuts. But the Senate Finance Committee rejected that proposal by a vote of 7-11.

Senate President Pro Tem John Courson, said earlier this week that the Legislature shouldn’t micromanage universities’ curriculum.

“I think that should be up to the presidents of the institution and the board of trustees which the General Assembly elects,” said Courson, R-Columbia.

The House’s budget plan cut $17,162 from the University of South Carolina Upstate and $52,000 from the College of Charleston for their book selections.

College of Charleston was to be penalized 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 was to lose $17,000 for assigning “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, called the assignment the promotion of a lifestyle.

The issue will likely resurface next week as the full Senate debates the budget.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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