UWRF plans to offer new LGBTQ course
November 12, 2009
A course addressing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) issues is currently being developed by the Coordinator of women’s studies, Michelle Parkinson, and UW-River Falls psychology professor Todd Savage.
A listening session was held Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, in which students, faculty and other interested parties were invited to come and assist in the process of developing the LGBTQ course.
“The session was sparsely attended. However, concerns were brought up about what would be included on the syllabus,” Parkinson said.
Ashley Olson, sociocultural coordinator of Student Affairs, helped at the listening session and believes this course offers a unique opportunity for LGBT students and heterosexual students.
“Not only will it allow for LGBTI identified students to explore their own identity, but also provide straight identified students with an opportunity to learn more about LGBTI history, theory and much more,” Olson said.
According to Parkinson, the course would cover a missing part of the curriculum of women’s studies. It would include information about social issues that the LGBTQ population faces and what they face every day. It would also include a psychology perspective in which sexual identity would be discussed and literature would be read addressing LGBTQ related topics.
“We would look to bring in panelists, activists and members of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) on campus to come and speak with the class,” Parkinson said.
The recent hate graffiti displayed on campus makes Parkinson believe that there remains a lack of awareness of these types of issues on campus, she said.
“We do need to make this campus a better and safer place for everyone and that includes the LGBT population. This course is built to not only inform people but also to create a place academically for LGBT students to feel safe, speak openly and network with others,” Parkinson said.
The original idea of developing this type of course was brought up and agreed upon by the entire women’s studies committee.
“It’s really its own topic. We felt that intellectually and academically we needed it. UWRF has the social justice series and the GSA group, but is missing the academic piece,” Parkinson said.
This course would count as a multidisciplinary in the general education requirements and possibly in the American cultural diversity category. It may also be added to the women’s studies major curriculum. The course is in the process of development and may be offered either next fall semester or more likely spring 2011.
“Once we build up the course, we will hopefully be able to offer a certificate in LGBT studies. This could take a few years, but it would be beneficial for those looking to work in the area or in a non-profit organization,” Parkinson said.
UWRF Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Co-Chair Jennifer Lambert is ecstatic about the LGBTQ course offering and believes UWRF will greatly benefit from it.
“I think students on this campus will gain a lot from this course, a much broader understanding of the LGBTQ community, as well as how these identities intersect with class, race, gender, and many other identities an individual can hold,” Lambert said.