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South Carolina

South Carolina latest to join ‘ban the LGBTQ+ books’ effort by Republicans

Governor orders a comprehensive investigation into the presence of “obscene and pornographic materials in public schools in South Carolina”



Former President Trump & South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster on June 26, 2018 (Screenshot via WCNC NBC 4 Charlotte, NC)

COLUMBIA, Sc. – In what has turned into a nationwide effort by Republicans at the local and state levels to remove and ban LGBTQ+ themed books from public schools, labeling those books “pornographic,” joining in this week, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster added his voice.

McMaster sent a letter to South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman asking her to “begin a comprehensive investigation into the presence of obscene and pornographic materials in public schools in South Carolina.”

In a follow-up tweet, the Governor added; “For sexually explicit materials of this nature to have ever been introduced or allowed in South Carolina’s schools, it is obvious that there is or was either a lack of, or a complete breakdown in, any existing oversight processes or the absence of appropriate screening standards.”

The Governor’s actions were preceded by outrage by conservative parents in the Fort Mill School District, (Officially known as York County School District 4). Parents had sent the Governor a copy of  Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, which is classified in the Comics & Graphic Novels > LGBT genre.

The book is written as an autobiographical look at author Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns. The 2020 ALA Alex Award Winner has frank illustrations of oral sex and other sexual content, along with discussions related to pronouns, acceptance and hormone-blocking drugs.

Greenville, South Carolina NBC affiliate WYFF 4 reported Thursday that the Governor reacted saying, “We looked at what was sent to us and I was shocked,” he said. “I stand with the parents who, of course, are standing for their children and there is no place in South Carolina for these kinds of inappropriate materials to be presented to young people.”

The Greenville County School District tells WYFF News 4 that a copy of that book has been in one of its high school libraries since March. It had only been checked out once, said GCS spokesman Tim Waller.

Waller added that district personnel reviewed the book and removed it from inventory.

The South Carolina Department of Education said it doesn’t have a role in choosing library books.

“Each district has its own board policy for review and purchase of library and media center books. It is clear that in this particular instance, the (Fort Mill School District) failed to properly vet the book in question for adoption,” said Ryan Brown, chief communications officer for the South Carolina Department of Education. “We had already begun a review of district policies concerning local purchases texts after this incident occurred and will make recommendations for improvement.”

The issue over LGBTQ+ themed books has become a lightening rod among conservatives. In Virginia, Spotsylvania County schools will have to begin removing books this week that contain “sexually explicit” material after the school board voted 6-0 to order the removal.

That directive comes after two parents raised concerns at a school board meeting about books available to students, particularly LGBTQ+ fiction.

In Texas, The Keller Independent School District had also removed — “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe, after multiple parents complained about its availability to students in one of that district’s high schools.

The Texas Education Agency was instructed in a letter Wednesday by Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott to investigate “the availability of pornography” in the state’s public schools system and determine if criminal activity had occurred as a result.

The Governor’s order to investigate the alleged criminal activity comes two days after he had tasked state education officials to develop statewide standards preventing “pornography” and “other obscene content in Texas public schools,” citing two memoirs about LGBTQ+ characters which include graphic images and descriptions of sex the Texas Tribune reported.


South Carolina

New SC Poll: 71% say state should not intrude in trans youth care

In a major poll 71% of South Carolina voters, including a majority of Republicans, believe the government should stay out of trans youth care



South Carolina State House, Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: State of South Carolina)

By Erin Reed |  COLUMBIA, S.C. – A new poll conducted by Mason Dixon Polling & Strategy among registered voters in South Carolina has revealed that an overwhelming majority believes the government should not intervene in medical decisions regarding gender-affirming care for transgender youth, provided parents are involved in those decisions.

Even a majority of Republicans oppose government intervention in the new poll. These findings are noteworthy given South Carolina’s heavily Republican legislature and its tendency to vote predominantly for Republicans in national elections. With this new poll, a clearer picture is emerging regarding the general public’s perception of bills targeting trans youth; South Carolina could enact such a bill imminently.

The poll, surveying registered voters in South Carolina, posed the question: “If parents are already involved in the decision-making process, do you believe the government should or should not intervene in LGBTQ gender-affirming health care decisions concerning individuals under the age of 18?”

It found that 71% of the state’s registered voters believe the government should not intervene in such gender-affirming health care decisions. Opposition to government intervention was substantial across all political affiliations: 67% of Republicans, 70% of independents, and 80% of Democrats were opposed.

You can see the results here:

South Carolina remains one of the few Republican-controlled states that has not enacted a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth. House Bill 4624, currently under consideration by state legislatures, seeks to prohibit such care for transgender youth, mandate that teachers disclose transgender students’ identities, and deny Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming procedures up to the age of 26 years old, marking a significant intrusion into the care of adult transgender individuals.

The debate surrounding this bill has been intense, highlighted by a senior legislator’s claim that “young people” are using litter boxes in classrooms, “identifying as cats,” and “answering yes or no with a meow.” These assertions have been consistently debunked as a hoax spread by extremist accounts, including Libs of TikTok.

The latest poll aligns with other recent surveys in primarily Republican states and national polls, offering a nuanced perspective on the general public’s views on transgender care. While some polls have been published indicating opposition to transgender care for youth, others suggest a lack of strong feelings on the issue, with it not being a high priority for most people.

For example, only 1% of respondents in a Fox News poll identified trans/woke issues as a top policy priority.

The picture becomes significantly clearer, though, when it comes to government intervention into care that a parent approves of. According to a recent Data For Progress poll, 76% of participants believe decisions regarding transgender care for youth should be made by parents or doctors.

In Kentucky, 71% opposed a law that would permit the state to override parents’ decisions to secure gender-affirming care for their transgender teenagers. A Grinnell College poll similarly revealed that a significant majority opposes bans on transgender care with parental consent.

Additionally, a Pathfinder poll last month found that a majority of voters would be motivated to oppose political candidates who frequently discuss restricting access to healthcare and sports for transgender youth.

The notion that the general public disapproves of anti-trans legislation is further supported by electoral outcomes where transgender issues have been a focal point. In the 2023 school board elections, 70% of Moms For Liberty and 1776 Project candidates, who campaigned extensively on anti-trans student policies, were defeated across the United States.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear vetoed a gender-affirming care ban in the state. Despite significant advertising expenditures targeting him during the reelection campaign over this veto, he secured victory by a larger margin than in his initial campaign. In 2023, the Virginia Legislature, the Arizona Governor’s Race, the Michigan legislature in 2022, the Wisconsin Supreme Court election, and the Walker-Warnock Senate race were all significantly influenced by anti-trans political narratives; Democrats were victorious in each of these contests.

Despite public sentiment, Republicans have continued to advance anti-trans legislation throughout the United States. In South Carolina, some Republican legislators seem determined to advocate for a comprehensive ban on transgender care for youth and to implement a Medicaid ban for individuals under 26, disregarding polling data and previous election results.

For these lawmakers, the 2024 elections will be particularly significant if polling on this issue reflects accurate public opinion.


Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.


The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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South Carolina

South Carolina school bans 5 books after the push to ban 97

There were 3,000 plus book bans in schools last year, 1,000 more than the year before. That rise is inspired, in part, by Moms for Liberty



Beaufort, SC, bans 5 books from school shelves after push to ban 97 in an effort led nationally by extremist group Moms for Liberty. (Screenshot/YouTube 60 Minutes)

BEAUFORT, S.C. – A South Carolina school district’s superintendent pulled 97 books from schools after a ban push from a few parents and residents. Almost all of the books have since been returned to school libraries.

There were more than 3,000 book bans in schools last year, a thousand more than the year before. That rise is inspired, in part, by Moms for Liberty—a Florida-based conservative group that says it is fighting for the survival of America. You might expect a sympathetic ear in Beaufort, South Carolina. The county votes Republican and is home to many veterans who did fight for America.

But when two people demanded the banning of 97 books, Beaufort found itself in a battle over the true meaning of liberty.  CBS News 60 Minutes senior correspondent Scott Pelley reports:

The preceding article was previously published & broadcast by the CBS News program 60 minutes.

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South Carolina

GOP bill would declare transgender people’s pronouns to be false 

Dr. Michael O’Brien, offered his insight into the bill, stating it is a “cruel bill designed specifically to harm trans South Carolinians”



By Erin Reed | COLUMBIA, S.C. – A new bill in South Carolina would mandate schools to make it official policy that using a transgender person’s pronouns is “false.” The bill would also mandate that teachers could not go by their preferred pronouns or gendered honorifics if they do not match their assigned sex at birth.

Lastly, it would allow parents to more easily remove books from the classroom. When confronted with the effects this legislation would cause, Dr. Michael O’Brien, a pediatrician in the state, the bill’s sponsor, state Representative Jordan Pace (R-District 117), responded, telling Dr. O’Brien to “repent.”

The bill is House Bill 4707, and it is the latest in a slew of “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” laws. It closely mirrors other laws such as Florida’s most recent “Don’t Say Gay” expansion. That law also has a provision barring transgender teachers from going by their preferred pronouns. This resulted in at least one transgender teacher being fired in the state for using their honorific, and another transgender teacher being told she could no longer go by “Ms. Doe” and instead would have to go by “Mr. Doe” or “Teacher Doe.”

However, House Bill 4707 extends beyond Florida’s legislation. It requires every school to adopt the stance that “the sex of a person is an immutable biological trait” and that “it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.” Essentially, it compels schools in South Carolina to teach or assert that disregarding a transgender person’s pronouns is the “appropriate” action and that using a transgender person’s pronouns is “wrong” or “false.”

See the provisions here:

The implications of this bill for transgender teachers and students in South Carolina are profound. Teachers would be forced to change their titles to those of their assigned sex at birth. Likewise, teachers would be forced to “out” themselves as transgender if they wished to stay in compliance with the law.

Moreover, students would receive instruction portraying transgender identity as “incorrect” or “false,” severely impacting transgender students’ well-being.

When responding to the bill, a local pediatrician, Dr. Michael O’Brien, offered the bill’s sponsor his insight into the bill, stating that it is a “cruel bill designed specifically to harm trans South Carolinians” and offering to discuss the bill with him.

Representative Pace responded by telling him that it is “cruel” to affirm transgender people and that instead, he should “repent” and hope that the “lord shows [him] mercy.”

This is not the first time Representative Pace has weaponized the powers of the state against transgender people. Previously, Representative Pace announced that his caucus successfully shut down the Medical University of South Carolina’s gender clinic for trans youth.

This came after the South Carolina Freedom Caucus, of which Pace is a member, threatened to strip funding from the hospital unless it shut the clinic down. The hospital acquiesced to legislative pressure and shut the clinic down in December 2022.

Bills like this are likely to proliferate in 2024. Florida’s first Don’t Say Gay law was passed in 16 states in the aftermath of its passage in Florida. Similarly, Florida’s bathroom ban on transgender adults has also been introduced in South Carolina.

Already, 89 bills have been filed for the 2023-2024 legislative session across the United States, and state legislatures have not even opened for 2024 yet. Meanwhile, the transgender community continues to endure an escalating series of legislative attacks.


Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here:


The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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South Carolina

Myrtle Beach SC area county govt nixes already issued Pride proclamation

The County Council’s decision highlighted the long-simmering tensions between conservative Christians and the LGBTQ community



Grand Strand Pride 2022 (Grand Strand Pride/Facebook)

MYRTLE BEACH, Sc. – The seaside resort city of Myrtle Beach has long been a vacation destination for LGBTQ+ people in South Carolina, although its not considered an LGBTQ+ mecca its not intolerant either until recently.

A decade old survey by UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute 2010, showed that the the highest density of gay couples in South Carolina lived in Myrtle Beach, which ranked the highest with 11.67 gay couples per 1,000 households.

This week though, according to the local Myrtle Beach Sun News, Horry County Council members on Tuesday did something highly unusual. They voted to nix a not-legally-binding resolution after having voted to approve it last month. That resolution? To declare June as Pride Month.

Under the headline of “Horry Republicans supported Pride Month, until they noticed. Where did council go wrong?” the paper noted that the County Council’s decision highlighted the long-simmering tensions between conservative Christians and the LGBTQ community.

The local LGBTQ advocacy group Grand Strand Pride was behind the resolution, organization leader Terry Livingston said, and local conservative pastors, like Rev. Mack Hutson, led an effort to nix the resolution.

“This news dampens our spirits but we resolve to make progress by continuing our advocacy work to make all of Horry County inclusive, diverse and equal for all,” Grand Strand Pride said in a statement Wednesday.

Rev. Mack Hutson who led the effort to have the proclamation revoked told the Sun-News in an interview:

“I don’t feel like the majority of the people of Horry County were very happy about our county putting a stamp of approval…on the month of June being declared gay pride month,” Hutson said. “Everybody I had talked to was totally against it. The gay community (are) not the only people who live in Horry County.”

“We had no idea and that’s our fault, we had no idea it was the LGBTQ (resolution),” council member Johnny Vaught told the paper adding:

“This is still the Bible Belt and there’s a lot of conservatives around here,” he said. “I have to serve the majority of my constituents and the majority of my constituency is saying we don’t want that.”

Reacting to the decision Rev. Hutson told the Sun-News he was pleased to see the council’s reversal. “I’m so proud of Horry County Council that they had enough backbone to do that,” he said.

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South Carolina

South Carolina’s governor signs anti-Trans youth sports bill

“We must not play into fear or treat some of our most vulnerable community members – our transgender young people – like political pawns”



South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster (Screenshot/WCIV ABC 15)

COLUMBIA – South Carolina’s Republican Governor Henry McMaster signed H.4608, the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” an anti-transgender bill that restricts trans students from participating in school sports that matches their gender identity in middle school, high school, and colleges across the state. All students will only be allowed to compete with the gender listed on their birth certificate.

The measure had passed its final legislative hurdle earlier this month and was forwarded to McMaster who signed it on Monday.

The passage of H.4608 comes after more than two years of LGBTQ+ and allied South Carolinians resisting similar efforts to ban transgender youth from sports participation. Between 2020 and 2021 advocates defeated 8 different versions of this bill, demonstrating consistent and powerful leadership from supporters of transgender dignity and equality. SC United for Justice & Equality is a coalition of more than 30 organizations committed to LGBTQ equality in SC that fought hard against the bill.

“It pains us to see lawmakers in South Carolina, and now the governor, ignore the voices of thousands of South Carolinians – including parents, medical providers, students, faith leaders, and transgender people ourselves – who expressed loudly and clearly that this bill will harm young people in our state. Transgender youth are not a threat to fairness in sports, and this law now needlessly stigmatizes young people who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence, make friends, and build skills like teamwork and leadership, winning and losing,” Ivy Hill, a leader in the coalition who serves as Executive Director of Gender Benders and Community Health Program Director of Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a statement.

“While extreme lawmakers ultimately forced through this anti-transgender attack, the SC United for Justice & Equality coalition is so proud of the ways that thousands of supporters of transgender dignity spoke out and organized against H.4608 and other bills this year. We are grateful for every South Carolinian who expressed their love, support, and respect for transgender youth and rejected these politics of division and cruelty. Despite this setback, we will never stop fighting on behalf of trans and queer young people, and our coalition will explore every strategy possible to surmount every barrier to equality,” Hill added.

Dr. Elizabeth Mack, a board certified pediatric critical care physician and pediatrician in Charleston, SC, has been one of many medical providers who has worked against the bill. When the bill passed in the Senate, she said:

“As a born and raised South Carolinian, it is my expectation that our state’s elected officials make decisions based on evidence and listen to our state’s experts. We must not play into fear or treat some of our most vulnerable community members – our transgender young people – like political pawns. Transgender youth face higher rates of bullying, mental health issues, and even suicide than their non-transgender peers, which we sadly see routinely in pediatric ICUs. This bill tells a population that is already at risk, ‘We do not support you,’ and I am devastated to see it pass. We must protect our future – our young people.”

2019 report from the Campaign for Southern Equality found that more than half of LGBTQ+ people in SC reported experiencing depression (71%) and anxiety (63%) – and rates were even higher for trans individuals and those who are BIPOC.

“Every day, The Trevor Project’s crisis counselors hear from young transgender and nonbinary people who want nothing more than to be honest about who they are and have the same opportunities as their peers. Like every one of the sports bans we’ve seen passed across the country over the last three years, this is a solution in search of a problem, and it will only work to increase the isolation and stigmatization of an already-marginalized group of students,” said Sam Ames, Director for Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. “Our 2022 national survey finds that nearly 1 in 5 trans and nonbinary youth attempted suicide in the past year — and this elevated risk is not due to their gender identity, but rather because of how they are mistreated. It’s heartbreaking to know that trans youth, who already report the highest rates of anxiety and depression symptoms, now have one more thing to worry about. We implore lawmakers to stop these unfair and unnecessary policies targeting a small group of marginalized youth, and focus their energy on the well-being of all youth.”

The Trevor Project’s new national survey also found that 71% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported that they have experienced discrimination based on their gender identity, and those who have reported significantly higher rates of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who have not. However, research also shows that transgender and nonbinary youth who had access to gender-affirming schools report lower rates of attempting suicide.

Recent polling conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project, 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health. When asked about new policies that would ban transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams and transgender boys from playing on boys’ sports teams, 74% of transgender and nonbinary youth said it made them feel angry, 57% felt sad, 43% felt stressed, and nearly 1 in 3 felt scared.

A 2021 peer-reviewed study by The Trevor Project’s researchers, published in Transgender Health, also found that transgender and nonbinary youth who reported gender identity acceptance from adults and peers had significantly lower odds of attempting suicide in the past year. The Trevor Project’s research has also found that a majority of LGBTQ young people (68%) have never participated in sports for a school or community league or club — with many citing fear of bullying and discrimination as a key factor for not participating.

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SC man convicted under anti-sodomy law sues over sex offender status

Convicted before SCOTUS ruling Lawrence v. Texas making it illegal to criminalize private intimate relationships between consenting adults



Graphic via Gilles Law PLLC Rock Hill, SC

COLUMBIA, Sc. – A South Carolina man forced to register as a sex offender for having consensual gay sex with another man in 2001 is suing the state over its “unconstitutional” anti-sodomy statute. 

The man – identified as John Doe in the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Carolina and private attorney Matthew Strugar – was found guilty under the state’s anti-sodomy law, titled “buggery,” in 2001. As a result, he was forced to register as a sex offender, a status he holds today, even though he was pardoned in 2006, according to the complaint

His conviction came before the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas that made it illegal to criminalize private intimate relationships between consenting adults.

Doe’s partner was also found guilty of the offense. 

“South Carolina is the last state in the country to require sex offender registration for pre-Lawrence sodomy convictions,” said Allen Chaney, ACLU of South Carolina’s Legal Director. “This practice needlessly subjects law abiding citizens to the horrors of the sex offender registry and demonstrates a deeply troubling animosity by the State towards the gay community.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, argues that requiring Doe to register as a sex offender violates his Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection under the law. It names South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson and Chief of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Mark Keel as defendants. 

Robert Kittle, spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office, said Wilson did not have a comment on the pending litigation. 

Doe is seeking to have his name, and the names of other people convicted under the law, removed from the registry. According to the lawsuit, at least 18 people in South Carolina are still forced to register as sex offenders because of the buggery law. 

“It is unconscionable that in 2021, South Carolina would still put people convicted of having gay sex on the sex offender registry,” said Strugar. “This kind of overt, state-sanctioned homophobia would have been surprising 30 years ago. Today it is shocking. And it is unconstitutional.”

Doe’s lawyers write that a sex offender status “seriously restricts the public and personal lives of registrants,” adding that Doe “suffers severely under the sex offender label, which involves the state in the daily management of his life.” 

Doe said he was denied a professional license recently, leading him to bring the lawsuit forward. In addition, Doe must report to the local sheriff’s office twice a year and report information that is “encyclopedic in scope,” according to the complaint. 

“Doe suffers continuing harm because of the continued application of South Carolina’s Buggery statute,” the lawsuit alleges. 

“This is wrong, violates well-established constitutional law, and must be stopped,” wrote the ACLU of South Carolina in a press release. “Being gay isn’t a crime, and having gay sex isn’t a sex offense. Enough is enough.”

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