After many years of planning, the LGBTQ Studies Program launched for the 2017–2018 academic year last fall, bringing a new track of coursework for students.
LGBTQ studies offers a transcript-recognized minor and certificate for undergraduates and a LGBTQ/Sexualities track for graduate students working on the graduate portfolio program in women’s and gender studies.
“(The idea for bringing LGBTQ studies to UT has) been there for as long as LGBTQ studies scholars have been researching and teaching at UT, which would take us back to at least the 1980s and 1990s, when scholars such as Lisa Moore (in 1991) and me (in 1987) joined the faculty,” Program Director Ann Cvetkovich said in an emailed statement. “We’re already teaching many courses, and have been for quite some time, so this impact is ongoing … The courses provide an opportunity for LGBTQ-identified students to learn about their own history, culture and politics, and they also afford all students the opportunity to become more knowledgeable about issues of gender and sexuality that affect all of us.”
LGBTQ studies is led by an advisory council made up of LGBTQ-affiliated faculty and staff from various departments. The program builds from the LGBTQ/Sexualities research cluster that was founded in 2004.
When asked about the possiblity of a LGBTQ studies major, Cvetkovich said they are likely to continue partnering with the WGS major.
“We are hoping to see WGS become a department in the coming years, which would in turn create more resources for (LGBTQ) studies,” Cvetkovich said.
Marketing sophomore Aleyiah Pena is currently working on the LGBTQ studies minor. She added the minor after taking Intro to LGBTQ Studies and thought it would be interesting to learn about the history.
“Since I’m a marketing major, I have to know how many different people think, because you have to market toward them and really know your audience in order to do it right,” Pena said. “I feel like with this (LGBTQ studies minor) I’m diversifiying my knowledge of different people and learning about where they come from and what they’ve been through.”
As someone who identifies with the LGBTQ community, Pena said taking LGBTQ studies courses has brought her closer to the community because she is more informed about sexuality.
Pena is not alone. Undeclared freshman Bobby Scherer is working on the LGBTQ studies certificate.
“I was looking for another class to fill out my schedule, and I found Intro to LGBTQ Studies and thought it would be interesting to take,” Scherer said. “I was asked if I wanted to do the certificate too and I thought it would be a cool thing to be part of.”
Scherer said he hopes to soon declare majors in government and sociology and believes learning about the LGBTQ community will help him better understand people and work with them.
“I am gay, but knowing more about the history will help me to better help other people and to be a better person in general,” Scherer said.
The program will be celebrating its launch this Thursday and Friday by hosting the “Queer Camaraderie” symposium.