GLAAD: Oran Smith is Wholly Unqualified to Lead South Carolina's College and University System

Smith has built a career targeting LGBTQ South Carolinians

ICYMI: Finalist for SC higher ed overseer once was editor of a neo-Confederate magazine

NEW YORK – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today condemned Oran Smith, a member of Coastal Carolina University’s board of trustees in South Carolina for his extensive anti-LGBTQ record. Currently, Smith is a finalist to be the taxpayer-funded Executive Director of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education.  

"Oran Smith is wholly unqualified to lead South Carolina's college and university system. He has demonstrated time and time again his disdain for those who don't share his narrow views,” said Zeke Stokes, a South Carolina native and GLAAD Chief Programs Officer. “His hateful record and rhetoric over the decades disqualify him. He simply cannot and will not serve the needs of all students."

According to the State of South Carolina, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (CHE) “serves as the coordinating board for South Carolina’s 33 public institutions of higher learning […] The Commission is responsible for assuring a balance between student and taxpayer interests and institutional policies, aspirations, and needs.” The CHE’s own website states: the “CHE works closely with institutions to expand educational opportunities for all state’s citizens…”

Prior to being a finalist, Oran Smith also served as editor of the neo-Confederate Southern Partisan magazine from 1989 to 1999. Smith’s decades long racist and anti-LGBTQ record was the subject of a news investigation in today’s The State newspaper in Columbia, SC. The Southern Poverty Law Center credits Southern Partisan as one of the key players in the Neo-Confederate movement going as far back as the 1980’s.

For more on Smith’s anti-LGBTQ activism, see below.


Helped write South Carolina’s amendment banning marriage equality.

— Said he believes marriage between one man and one woman “is the gold standard for kids,” adding that “Anything that harms that ability in a family is something we oppose.”

— Insisted that marriage equality would “reverse thousands of years of human flourishing.”

— Attacked lesbian author Alison Bechel’s celebrated memoir Fun Home “because it's promoting that lifestyle."

— Attacked city of Columbia, SC, for flying Pride flags: “I think the mistake the city has made is being knee deep in agenda for a specific organization promoting a specific kind of lifestyle.”

— Stoked fears about “young girls who may have men in their shower rooms” at public schools.

— Said of transgender rights: “The idea of gender identity, in particular, is a relatively new concept, and one that concerns us on how it may actually work if it were put in our statute."

— Complained about ads promoting LGBTQ tourism in South Carolina: “"I think with today's economy, we have to be really smart with our tourism dollars, and South Carolina's market, very clearly, is the family-friendly market," Smith said. "So if we want to spend our dollars in a way that's wise, we need to go after our market, and our market is families."