Last week, the South Carolina House of Representatives passed a budget that punitively cut the budgets of two colleges that had incorporated LGBT-themed books into elective reading programs. CBLDF has joined a coalition of free speech advocates to urge the South Carolina Senate to reject the budget cuts.
The budget cuts specifically affect two schools: College of Charleston, which had used Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home in a voluntary summer reading program for incoming freshman, and the University of South Carolina Upstate, which had used Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio for a similar program. Neither school required students to read the books. If the budget passes, both schools will see budget cuts exactly equivalent to what they were given for the programs.
The National Coalition Against Censorship wrote the letter, addressed to the Senate Finance Committee, and CBLDF joins the ACLU of South Carolina, the American Association of University Professors, the Modern Language Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the National Council of Teachers of English and the American Library Association in signing the letter.
In the official press release, NCAC Executive Director Joan Bertin discusses the legality of the proposed budget cuts, noting that case law does not support them:
“The proposed budget cuts are designed to punish the schools solely because some members of the legislature don’t approve of certain books being taught. The Supreme Court has sent a clear message over decades: lawmakers may not prohibit the expression of ideas simply because they find them to be offensive.”
Vcitoria Middleton, the Executive Director of the ACLU of South Carolina adds:
“This kind of political interference with academic freedom not only violates core First Amendment values, it compromises the quality of higher education in our state.”
The entirety of the letter appears below.
Previously on CBLDF: