5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Homegrown Homophobia

While international homophobia sometimes takes center-stage, don't count out good ol' America's ability to be just as bigoted as our friends across the pond.
By: Sunnivie Brydum
March 11 2014 5:32 PM

Welcome back to our weekly round-up of the most infuriating bits of anti-LGBT rhetoric to grace our news feeds in the past seven days. This week, American homophobes were on a roll, giving us plenty to choose from — our only problem was picking only five outrageous stories to share here. Read on to see what made the cut, but expect a healthy dose of snark in the following pages — sometimes it's the only way we can get through the day. 

5. South Carolina Legislators Punish Schools That Include LGBT Stories

In South Carolina, it appears the only good kind of education is a straight education — one that ignores all historical references to the fact that LGBT people exist. At least, that's how things will go if Republican Rep. Garry Smith (pictured above) has his way

Because schools aren't hard-up enough for funding as-is, Smith introduced a piece of legislation that would slash the budgets of South Carolina universities that dare to assign LGBT-inclusive books to students. 

Both the University of South Carolina Upstate and the College of Charleston had incorporated LGBT issues and history into their curriculum, the state’s Republican legislators proposed a budget cut for the 2014-2015 fiscal year in order to teach the public universities a lesson. That budget, which has already passed the Higher Education subcommittee and the House Ways and Means Committee, would strip the University of South Carolina, Upstate of $17,162, and the College of Charleston of $52,000. It's slated to go before the full state House this week. If approved by that chamber, the budget would then move to the state Senate and finally to Republican Governor Nikki Haley, whose office has yet to respond to requests for comment.

Naturally, the proposed cuts have drawn outrage from a number of students, faculty and alumni who have voiced their disapproval on a website that was created to protest the slashing of the budget.

"I am a gay USC Upstate faculty member and a proud CofC alumnus...and SC is my home too,” read one post. “I won't stand by and let my academic freedom AND my civil rights be devalued."

But Rep. Smith won't be swayed by those limp-wristed alumni and their tender-hearted allies. He said he proposed the cuts after receiving an email from a concerned parent whose 17-year-old daughter would be attending the College of Charleston, and was upset because the university offered no options for students who were offended by LGBT subject matter. 

"I think the university has to be reasonable and sensible to the feelings and beliefs of their students," Smith told CNN, somehow free of irony. "That was totally ignored here. I was trying to hold the university accountable. Their stance is 'Even if you don't want to read it, we'll shove it down your throat.' It's not academic freedom — it's academic totalitarianism."

Yes. Because including accurate discussions of historical LGBT people who really did exist is nothing if not "academic totalitarianism." And you know what isn't totalitarian at all? Telling admission-paying, legally adult students what they can and cannot read. Sweet freedom...

4. Lesbian Couple Claims Antigay Neighbors Ran Them Out of Town

After what they say was more than ten years of antigay harassment and discrimination from neighbors, a lesbian couple in Vermont is taking their town to task — and to court. 

Barbara Ernst and Barbara Supeno, who have been together for 21 years, bought lakefront property in Addison, Vt., in 2004. But in the decade since, the couple said town leaders have been attempting to push them out, inflating the property values, circulating homophobic letters, and keeping the couple in the dark about zoning meetings they needed to attend, according to Burlington TV station WPTZ's review of the lawsuit.

"It's entirely based on their sexual orientation," attorney David Bond said. "Neighbors insulted them, made obscene gestures to them. There were dead animals left on their property."

The couple's suit focuses largely on conflicts they have had over zoning and property. Two public meetings where held in 2008 regarding a fence they had installed, but they say they were not notified about the meetings. The complaint also says Supeno faced a $100 fine for installing an accessibility ramp for her mother. Also, they claim that anonymous bullies circulated a letter about the couple three years ago, which stated they were scam artists. The couple also alleges that a homophobic slur spraypainted outside the town offices was directed at them. 

Neither the couple nor the town officials named as defendants were willing to speak on-camera, but the formal charges include "defamation, false light invasion of privacy, tortious interference with prospective business relations, sexual orientation discrimination, common law retaliation and violations of common benefits clause," according to WTPZ. 

Find more outrageous news on the following pages…

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