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Publishers Weekly talks with Suzanne La Rosa on South Carolina book defunding controversy

Publishers Weekly quoted NewSouth publisher Suzanne La Rosa in a recent article about the South Carolina state house’s controversial decision to cut funding to two schools that assign books with gay and lesbian characters to their freshmen. The University of South Carolina Upstate assigns their students Out Low: The Best of Rainbow Radio, edited by Ed Madden and Candace Chellew-Hodge, and the College of Charleston assigns their students the novel Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

The South Carolina state house cut almost $70,000 in funding from the schools, citing separately to Publishers Weekly issues with books that promote “the gay and lesbian lifestyle.”

“I believe it’s important to publish on these topics,” La Rosa told Publishers Weekly reporter Paige Crutcher. “This is shameful, hurtful, punitive behavior on the part of the state of South Carolina. Sadly, it’s also curiously revealing about the role the state believes it has to play in the life of its academic community.”

In their conversation, La Rosa told Crutcher, “To the degree that we can better educate people to be compassionate and not to fear ‘the other,’ then we will succeed in creating a society more hospitable to and accepting of the value of books like these in question. That is, after all, our mission as publishers. Keep in mind: Even legislators are not beyond redemption.”

NewSouth plans to release a book of Southern-themed LGBT coming-out stories in 2015, tentatively titled Crooked Letter I and edited by Connie Griffin.

Read “Booksellers and Publishers React to the Defunding of S.C. Universities” at the Publishers Weekly website.