Legislature becoming LGBT book critics in S.C.

By on February 28, 2014
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On Wednesday, members of the South Carolina House of Representatives took a vote to cut $17,000 in funding from the University of South Carolina Upstate and $52,000 from the College of Charleston for assigning books with the main topics involving homosexuality.

“One of the things I learned over the years is that if you want to make a point, you have to make it hurt. I understand academic freedom, but this is not academic freedom. This was about promoting one side with no academic debate involved,” State Representative Gary Smith said (Washington Post).

The decisions to cut these books and to further cut these schools’ budgets are repulsive and emotionally charged. The two books, Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio and Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, simply focus on ways of life that certain politicians do not agree with. There is no objective reason behind their criticism.

Out Loud is a collection of stories of drag queens, gay army veterans, family members of people who are homosexual, the first lesbian candidate for office in South Carolina’s state Congress, and more. These stories describe what it is like to be gay and lesbian in the South, and are important in understanding that situation.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel is a memoir in graphic novel form about the author’s childhood and her relationship with her late father. The work tells the story of Bechdel’s coming out as a lesbian, and also addresses such questions as gender role, suicide, and dysfunctional family life in a novel that again exposes a truer perspective on what it means to be gay.

Whether these stories promote one side of a moral argument or not is irrelevant; they are sharing the personal stories of people. Banning these books is pointless, especially when there is so much that can be learned from them.

People like Gary Smith, whose actions are lead by their prejudices, are out of their jurisdiction in these cases. It is wrong for them to punish schools for assigning certain books when there was never a law stating they couldn’t.

If issues like these continue to spring up, will there come a day when plays such as “Sex” and “The Drag,” will be banned from performance in states with homophobic leaders? How much more will politics censor what we are allowed to learn? How long will it be until they teach us what they want us to know instead of what we should know? Action needs to be taken to protect our education.

Eric Kaemmerer
Staff Writer
ekaem2@uab.edu

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