South Carolina state Sen. Mike Fair (R) condemned the University of South Carolina Upstate for its upcoming two-day LGBT symposium during an interview with WYFF published Monday, attacking one LGBT-themed performance as an inappropriate recruitment strategy.
"It's just not normal and then you glorify, or it seems to me, that the promotion at USC Upstate is a glorification of same-sex orientation,” Fair said while discussing the one-hour program, “How to Become a Lesbian in 10 days or Less.” “That's not an explanation of 'I was born this way.' That's recruiting.”
State Sen. Kevin Bryant (R) also called the university's choice of programming a promotion of "perversion" and a misuse of state funds.
“If they’ve got extra money sitting around to promote perversion, obviously they’ve got more money than they really need,” Bryant, a member of the Senate budget-writing committee, told The State on Friday.
The show, which was scheduled to take place during the April 10-11 Bodies of Knowledge Symposium and Conference, has since been canceled for disrupting the school’s educational mission, according to Tammy E. Whaley, USC Upstate’s assistant vice chancellor for university communications.
“The title of ‘How to Become a Lesbian in 10 days or Less,’ while deliberately provocative, is satirical in nature but has not been received as such,” Whaley said in a statement to WYFF. “The controversy surrounding this performance has become a distraction to the educational mission of USC Upstate and the overall purpose of the Bodies of Knowledge symposium.”
Gail Stephenson, president of LGBT advocacy group Upstate Pride, criticized the show's cancellation as an attack on diversity and a disservice to USC Upstate students.
“Diversity is diversity. And we can't just say we are going to choose this part of diversity, but we're not going to choose this part of diversity,” Stephenson told WYFF. “Then what's next? Are we going to cut out women's studies? Racial integration?”
In March, South Carolina lawmakers approved $52,000 in budget cuts from USC Upstate and the College of Charleston as punishment for assigning freshmen students LGBT-themed books as required reading.
USC Upstate lost $17,146, the cost of its required reading program, for assigning “Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio,” a collection of stories from South Carolina’s first gay and lesbian radio show.
Although South Carolina’s House Ways and Means Committee passed the budget 20-1, some state lawmakers, including state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D), opposed the committee's move to censor universities' reading curricula through funding cuts.
"We are now in a posture where individual moral compasses and beliefs are being pushed down on our institutions of higher education," Cobb-Hunter, who cast the lone vote against the budget package, said in March. "Do you think for one minute some companies are going to look seriously at us, when they think about their workforce coming to a state like this, with members of a Legislature who believe their job is to pass judgment on colleges of higher learning to dictate what books people are going to read?"