Trans rights, medical marijuana, book censorship, and 'a traditional approach to history’

It’s a busy week in Columbia. Our rights are on the line. Here are some opportunities to show up and fight. 

Freedom to read under attack 

On Tuesday, just two blocks away from the State House, the State Board of Education will vote whether to adopt a statewide policy banning books with descriptions of sexual conduct from all K-12 classrooms. A similar policy in Iowa has already led to the removal of books including 1984, Native Son, and The Color Purple from schools (and an ACLU of Iowa lawsuit to boot). We can stop this before it becomes our reality here in South Carolina. 

The State Board of Education will vote on proposed regulation R. 43-170 (PDF download) on Tuesday, February 13, at 1 p.m. in the Rutledge Building conference center (1429 Senate St., Columbia). We’ll be there along with students, librarians, and teachers speaking against this transparent attempt at politically motivated censorship. Please show up a few minutes early if you would like to sign up to speak. 

Trans rights now. Trans rights forever. 

This is a make-or-break week for the rights of transgender South Carolinians and their families. Here are 4 ways you can take action:  

  1. Write to your state senator urging them to vote NO on H. 4624, a bill that would ban medically necessary care for transgender youth. Our coalition partners in SC United for Justice & Equality have set up an action page that will connect you with your senator and give you some talking points if you would like to use them. 
  2. Show up to the Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee hearing Wednesday, February 14, at 10 a.m. in Room 308 of the Gressette Office Building (1101 Pendleton St., Columbia). Arrive early and sign up for public comment if you would like to give a comment of up to 2 minutes in length. 
  3. Submit written testimony to the subcommittee by Monday, February 12, at 12 noon to with "H. 4624" in the subject line.  
  4. Since it’s Valentine’s Day after all: Write a short Valentine to transgender South Carolinians via this form, and we’ll deliver it to the senators on the Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee. 

If the subcommittee gives a favorable recommendation, the full Senate Medical Affairs Committee will take a vote on H. 4624 on Thursday, February 15, at 10 a.m. in the same room. From there it would advance to the Senate floor for debate. 

Medical marijuana — finally?

The South Carolina Senate has been consumed with debate over legalization of medical marijuana (S. 423). We anticipate the debates will continue this week. 

Legalization of medical marijuana is a far cry from full legalization and ending the failed war on drugs. Still, this bill would allow medical professionals to provide relief to people living with cancer, epilepsy, and other chronic illnesses. We support its passage 

Similar debates have been repeated for nearly a decade now in the General Assembly. Sen. Tom Davis, a Republican from Beaufort, has re-introduced medical marijuana bills each session. We hope this is the year his colleagues come around. 

You can write to your senator here

Whose history? Our history 

Apparently frustrated that their other school censorship bills are getting jammed up, members of the the South Carolina Freedom Caucus are now pushing a bill (H. 4374) that would make it impossible for teachers and students to have honest conversations about history. 

The bill would override state social studies standards, which are written in a years-long public process with input from teachers and historians, and instead require the state to enforce “a traditional approach to history.” Details are scarce on what “traditional” means here, but we can hazard a guess. 

So much for freedom! 

The House K-12 Subcommittee will consider the bill at its meeting on Tuesday, February 13, an hour-and-a-half after adjournment of the House in Room 433 of the Blatt Building (1105 Pendleton St., Columbia). You can send a message to the full House Education and Public Works Committee here