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Friday, May 9, 2014

Alison Bechdel's Fun Home at Center of South Carolina Controversy

Posted By on Fri, May 9, 2014 at 3:30 PM

click to enlarge Alison Bechdel - COURTESY OF ELENA SEIBERT
  • Courtesy of Elena Seibert
  • Alison Bechdel

In punitively slashing the budgets of their own state colleges, legislators in the South Carolina House of Representatives have unwittingly given late-night comedians a great wealth of new material about narrow-mindedness, blind ideological loyalty and homophobia.

As reported in various media outlets including National Public Radio  the College of Charleston had the audacity to assign to first-year students a book that acknowledges the existence and humanity of people who are not heterosexual. That book, the acclaimed Fun Home by Vermont cartoonist Alison Bechdel  has also been adapted into an award-winning, Pulitzer-nominated off-Broadway musical.

The University of South Carolina Upstate, another school that state legislators deemed worthy of a good, hard spanking, did not assign Fun Home to first-year students, but did assign other works that dare to challenge the state’s centuries-long tradition of upholding heteronormativity.
click to enlarge Fun Home the Musical at the Public Theater in New York City - COURTESY OF CATHY RESMER
  • Courtesy of Cathy Resmer
  • Fun Home the Musical at the Public Theater in New York City

Because of these colleges’ decisions to assign readings that challenged conservative viewpoints, South Carolina legislators decided that a fair and just punishment was to slash the schools’ funding by $70,000.

Students at both schools have been demonstrating to remind state lawmakers that South Carolina is not, in fact, exempt from the protection of the First Amendment.

In a move that many writers and pundits see as directly connected to the Fun Home flap, conservative Republican Glenn McConnell, the state’s lieutenant governor, has, after intense pressure by those same legislators, just been selected as the new president of the College of Charleston.

At last report, despite the best efforts of South Carolina lawmakers, gay and lesbian Americans continue to exist, even in South Carolina.

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