S.C. Governor Upholds Penalties for Gay-Themed Books in State Budget

Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina has opted not to veto a measure in the state’s 2014-15 budget that would penalize two universities by a total of nearly $70,000 for assigning books with gay themes, reports The State, a newspaper in Columbia, S.C.

Under the budget, the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina-Upstate will have to spend $52,000 and $17,000, respectively, to teach the U.S. Constitution and other founding documents, “including the study of and devotion to American institutions and ideals.” The budget will take effect on July 1.

The South Carolina House of Representatives initially voted to strip the universities of the funds outright, but it later opted, in tandem with state senators, to direct the money to the teaching of the founding documents.

The punishment was a response to gay-themed reading assignments made by each college. The College of Charleston had assigned Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel, and the Upstate campus had chosen Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio, edited by Candace Chellew-Hodge and Ed Madden.

Several organizations, including the Modern Language Association, the American Association of University Professors, and the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, issued a statement on Friday condemning the measure.

“Penalizing state educational institutions financially simply because members of the legislature disapprove of specific elements of the educational program is not only educationally unsound, it is constitutionally suspect,” the statement says.

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