Classes surrounding the LGBTQ community have been sparse in the past few years, so Weber State University professors Theresa Kay, Melina Alexander and Richard Price have put into motion the works of a queer studies minor.
The minor is now on its way to getting approved by the Faculty Senate, but has not yet been fully approved.
In fall 2019, the three professors conducted an experiment asking students about their interests in LGBTQ-based courses being taught at WSU and how likely they would be to take them.
The results of this experiment were promising; 79 students said they would take at least one queer studies course and 42 students said they would select it as a core studies minor.
Kay noted that Weber is hesitant to allow classes to continue if there is insufficient enrollment, so the success of this new minor will ultimately lie in the hands of students.
As of now, the minor will include nine core credits and 18 elective credits. The classes required for the minor are heavily centered around LGBTQ topics.
Core classes will include Intro to Women and Gender Studies, Queer Theories and either an internship or research methods.
The elective credits will derive from a variety of departments. For example, Human Sexuality from the health department and LGBTQ+ Politics from the political science department.
Kay said some of the classes will cover the theories and existing research that help students understand why identities may develop, how society responds to different identities and how members of the LGBTQ+ community are affected by societal thoughts. Course objectives will often overlap.
Though some existing classes will be included in the minor, there are a couple of new courses in the works as well. One of these includes LGBT America Since 1945, which will be taught by Price.
Kay has been an ally for the LGBTQ community for over 12 years, participating in the Ogden Pride Board and Ogden Outreach. But before she became involved she said she was blissfully unaware of the marginalization the community faces.
“One of the most important things that someone who minors in queer studies would get is more understanding and therefore be better equipped to deal with diverse populations,” Kay said. “Not only will these different courses be talking about LGBTQ+ identities, but also about how those identities intersect with race or religion.”
The idea of a queer studies minor is not the first of its kind. WSU is jumping aboard the diversity train after a handful of universities have already developed the program, including the University of Oregon, the University of New Hampshire and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Price chose to be involved with the development of the minor for a few reasons, but the primary reason is because of the significant amount of controversies surrounding transgender-inclusive content in schools and libraries.
For the past two years, Price’s LGBTQ political science class has focused on methods of censoring queer-inclusive stories and books over the last 50 to 100 years.
Price said the recent most frequently challenged book written for middle grade students is called “George” by Alex Gino. The story is about a fourth-grade transgender girl dealing with her identity and resistance from the community.
Kay said she is looking forward to supporting the LGBTQ community in any way she is able.
“This is just an area of diversity, like race,” Kay said. “It’s not a choice. It’s not immoral or sinful. We have a long way to go with diversity issues in general, but particularly gender and sexual orientation of minority individuals.”