Lawmakers threaten to cut funds after gay lifestyle seminar - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Lawmakers threaten to cut USC Upstate funds after gay lifestyle seminar

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Bodies of Knowledge Symposium (April 7, 2014/FOX Carolina) Bodies of Knowledge Symposium (April 7, 2014/FOX Carolina)

A flier on the campus of USC Upstate in Spartanburg shows the dates and times for the Bodies of Knowledge Symposium which starts Thursday, but it's the subject surrounding it that has students talking.

"From my perspective as a Christian, as a believer, I don't support a gay movement or the lesbian movement for that matter," Calin Popviciu said.

He's a student who won't be attending the seminar.

"You don't want to bring a movement on campus that might affect the way that things are being taught," Popviciu said.

A seminar called How to be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less, which was part of the symposium, is now canceled after state lawmakers threatened to cut funding from the school again.

"Our budget should not be cut because we are trying to learn diversity," Hannah Ker said.

She's a student at USC Upstate too.

"You're coming to college for an experience, and I feel it's very different from high school," Ker said.

About a month ago, state lawmakers voted to cut funding to USC Upstate after they learned about a required reading book entitled Out Loud. The book is about being gay in the South.

"I don't think that a lot of parents in the state of South Carolina are sending their kids to college to learn about how to be a homosexual," Sen. Lee Bright said.

Bright represents District 12 in Greenville and Spartanburg counties. He said lawmakers are taking a closer look at funding for public colleges and universities.

"If these public universities want to basically deal in pornography and want to deal in what they see is a grand alternative lifestyle, then they can do it on their own dime and go private," Bright said.

John Masterson is senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at the USC Upstate. He said he welcomes the conversation with lawmakers. He said USC Upstate has a lot to offer.

"We try to be as good steward as we possibly can with the people's money," Masterson said.

He said the title of the canceled seminar was meant to be catchy and it is a play about gay awareness.

"The program grew out of an incident of gay bashing, a murder of a young man a few years ago," Masterson said.

And students said the situation taught them about choice.

The woman behind the canceled seminar, Leigh Hendrix, released the following statement about her event, "How to be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less is not a seminar to recruit anyone. It is a play about finding yourself and finding your voice as an artist. I have been proud of how the play speaks to LBGTQ and straight people."

Though Hendrix's seminar was canceled, the Bodies of Knowledge Symposium is not and it starts on Thursday.

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