An April 2010 TSG Senate bill is drawing attention to gen-ed requirements.
In what Temple Student Government Senate President Colin Saltry said was a “last-minute thing,” TSG passed a bill last spring that called for GLBT classes to be an option to fulfill the general education’s race and diversity requirement.
Senate bill S10-12, “a resolution calling for LGBTQA classes as an option when fulfilling the race and diversity general education requirement,” was proposed and passed during TSG’s April 19 Senate meeting last academic year. Introduced by former School of Communications and Theater Senator Malcolm Kenyatta, the bill was sponsored by TSG’s student life committee.
While the bill was passed, it made no change on the gen-ed requirements, which Saltry credits to a lack of research.
“When this came out, it was originally brought before the senate as an act,” Saltry said. “There was no research done in addition to it. It was just words on a page.”
Saltry said the issue is still being researched, but it is not a priority at this point in time. He added that TSG realized this resolution was not possible even if they had researched because the mechanisms for changing the gen-ed requirements are complicated.
There are currently no options for GLBT classes that count toward any of the nine gen-ed areas.
The gen-ed director and associate director, respectively, Dr. Istvan Varkonyi and Dr. Julie Phillips said although there aren’t any GLBT classes in gen-ed, the topic is brought up throughout the curriculum.
“There’s a wide-spread recognition of the importance and also taking those issues up in a variety of context and places,” Phillips said.
Phillips and Varkonyi said they do not create the courses, so a faculty member would have to develop a course on GLBT issues for one to be established.
Varkonyi said although Temple offers a GLBT-focused minor, staff involved in that curriculum face difficulties extending GLBT classes to the gen-ed department.
“They are understaffed,” Varkonyi said. “They can’t even sustain the courses that they have in the program to get met by the demands of the students.”
Queer Student Union President Nina Melito said she thinks it is interesting there are no gay and lesbian studies in the gen-ed department to begin with.
“It kind of speaks to our thinking as Americans that most of the classes in the gen-ed requirement for diversity are race classes,” Melito said. “We need to also add in other minorities, including gays and lesbians and transgenders because homophobia is still prevalent in America, as is racism.”
Melito took the gen-ed human sexuality couse, but she said it did not dig deeply into GLBT subject matter.
Purple Circle President and QSU Events Coordinator Ash Yezuita said the addition of a gay and lesbian lives course, which is currently offered in the GLBT minor, would be significant in promoting awareness for GLBT issues.
“It’s important, in terms of understanding diversity issues and to have the LGBTQA community be recognized as a group that frequently faces problems involving depression and discrimination,” Yezuita said. “It’s really insane how these issues are being completely ignored.”
Yezuita said incorporating GLBT issues in existing gen-ed classes is also important.
“The students that may not take a gay and lesbian life course will still be confronted with the real issues that this population of individuals face,” Yezuita added.
Kenyatta said he is disappointed the bill never made an effect.
“I feel like a lot of what happens with TSG legislation is that there really is no enforcement mechanism unless it is specifically geared towards TSG policies,” Kenyatta said.
Before it can tackle more in-depth issues, Saltry said TSG has to increase its voter turnout.
“It’s not a case that we’re just ignoring this,” Saltry said. “It’s just a case that we’re trying to focus on things we can get done now.”
Kenyatta said that the solution may be in the hands of the student body and that there has not been enough of a push for GLBT classes.
“People have to be more forceful in saying, ‘Hey, this is what we want,’” Kenyatta said. “There hasn’t been enough noise made about it from TSG or from the student body.”
Melito said classes on the issue would be interesting to all students.
“[GLBT classes] would help people gain more knowledge about our issues,” Melito said. “I think it’s interesting to a lot of people.”
Recalling the recent gay teen suicides across the country, Kenyatta said educating people on GLBT issues could potentially stop hatred and bullying.
“People need to have more of an understanding of what [GLBT issues] mean,” Kenyatta said. “There’s so much hatred towards LGBTQA people in a lot of different parts of the country.”
Cary Carr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.