A group of self-identified College of Charleston students, alumni and employees have put “on notice” the S.C. legislator behind last week’s vote to cut funding to two state colleges for having students read gay-themed books.
The group — members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and their allies — started a Tumblr blog criticizing the budget cuts called “Homo Sweet Homo: Gay Faces, Gay Places,” playing on a former state tourism slogan, “Smiling faces, beautiful places.”
The blog was the idea of South Carolina members of Southerners on New Ground, a regional social justice advocacy organization based in Atlanta, whose members are largely made up of members of the LGBTQ community who wanted to provide a forum for people to respond to the cuts, said Jenna Lyles, a 2010 College and Charleston alum and the advocacy organization’s state field organizer.
Last week, the House Ways and Means committee — at the request of Rep. Garry Smith, R-Greenville — voted to cut nearly $70,000 from the College of Charleston and University of South Carolina Upstate for books they had students read.
According to the program website, students at USC Upstate are assigned the book in entry-level English courses. At the College of Charleston, students and faculty are encouraged to read the selection, which is incorporated into courses and activities on campus, according to the college’s website.
Lawmakers voted to withdraw funds based on amounts the schools spent on required-reading books last year — $17,000 by USC Upstate for “Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio” and $52,000 by the College of Charleston for “Fun Home.”
After the controversy, both universities are seeking wider input on reading selections.