SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Anti-LGBT advocacy organizations are criticizing the choice by University of South Carolina-Upstate officials to require incoming freshman to read an LGBT-themed book in their first-year reading program. Meanwhile, LGBT advocates are pushing their supporters to speak out in favor of the inclusive book choice.
Palmetto Family Council and Palmetto Conservative Alliance say the book, “Outloud: The Best of Rainbow Radio,” and the reading program, Preface, are using taxpayer dollars to promote homosexuality. Students are required to read the text in English 101 and University 101 courses and to attend related events in their English courses.
Josh Kimbrell, a conservative radio host and leader with Palmetto Conservative Alliance, has said LGBT-themed reading materials at South Carolina colleges are “poisoning higher education.” The action from conservative groups in the Upstate follows similar controversy earlier this summer, when groups objected to the College of Charleston’s choice to require freshmen to read lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.”
Kimbrell has said his group will work to have the state legislature “forbid public universities from using public money and mandatory student fees to promote any sort of sexual agenda.”
Kimbrell added, “This kind of propaganda doesn’t align with the view of most South Carolinians, and we shouldn’t be forced to pay for its promotion.”
Ryan Wilson, executive director of the statewide LGBT advocacy group South Carolina Equality, praised USC-Upstate officials for their choice in reading materials and, today, urged his group’s supporters to speak out in favor of the book.
“Unfortunately, the Palmetto Family Council and other groups that oppose LGBT diversity and inclusion are calling on their members and supporters to try and stop this book from being read by USC Upstate students,” Wilson said in an email. “They fear that students might be exposed to true life experiences of members of our LGBT community and have compassion on us, or worse, support equality as a result of reading our stories. We have been told that the voices opposing this book are outnumbering the voices in support!”
He has urged supporters to contact USC-Upstate officials with messages of support and thanks.
“Outloud: The Best of Rainbow Radio” was edited by the Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge and Dr. Ed Madden. It includes collections of commentaries and interviews from Columbia’s “Rainbow Radio,” founded in 2005 and, for five years, the only LGBT-themed radio program in the Carolinas.
Commentaries and stories in the book include, according to the Preface reading program website: “Citadel cadets and drag queens, a slam poet from Columbia and a Spartanburg school teacher, a seminary student in Atlanta and a gay Army vet just back from the Middle East, West Columbia rednecks and rural Texas tomboys, as well as South Carolina’s first lesbian Congressional candidate. A young man talking about his gay uncle and a retired attorney talking about her gay son. Two boys who dare to dance at the prom, a psychic who may be attuned to the gay agenda, and a dying man who makes his last visit to church on Christmas.”
qnotes has been a past sponsor and supporter of the radio program.