A degree program that will allow students the opportunity to explore different theories of sexuality and examine various Los Angeles-based gay, lesbian and queer organizations next semester was recently approved.
Students will be offered classes that examine such subjects and earn a minor in queer studies, which was approved by the Educational Policy Committee.
“Students will learn about the lives, histories, communities and experiences of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people, intersexed people and other queers,” said Sheena Malhotra, the director of the program, in an e-mail interview.
Malhotra said the program is important because students will finally have a safe place to question the norms of society.
There are currently classes that refer to these topics, but they have never been linked to each other, said Jacob Hale, a philosophy professor and the director of the Center for Sex and Gender Research.
“It’s been a glaring absence in our curriculum here at CSUN,” Hale said. “This program basically fills in that gap.”
A committee was organized by the Dean of the College of Humanities, Elizabeth Say, to develop a solid curriculum. The committee was comprised of seven professors from different departments who spent about a year working on the program.
Hale, who was a part of the team, said the committee wanted to make sure the minor included the ways in which race, ethnicity, social class and gender interact with sexuality.
Students must earn a total of 18 units for the minor by taking three required classes and three elective classes.
The introduction course, “Perspectives in Queer Studies,” also counts toward general education credits for students who don’t want to minor in queer studies.
Elizabeth Adams, a liberal studies professor who is a member of the EPC and also took part in forming the minor, said, “I hope students, regardless of their identity, will find this minor gives them some depth of understanding about what is a really complicated issue in modern life.”
Sociology major David Zamani said he will enroll in one of the classes because “it’s always good to know what is going on” and get a better idea of the community.
Malhotra said the minor could be helpful to students once they graduate because with a background in queer studies, they could be very marketable to organizations involved in social justice work.
Looking at issues of diversity is just one aspect of queer studies.
“The program isn’t simply about trying to replace negative stereotypes with positive representations, but also to critically call into question our concepts of sexual orientation,” Hale said.
Deciding on a name for the program wasn’t easy. Nobody wanted a long name, Hale said. They finally decided on queer studies after much disagreement and discussion.
“It’s a provocative name, but in a good way,” Adams said.