The College of Liberal Arts has expanded its curriculum this fall with the addition of a minor in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies (LGBT). By doing so, Temple becomes one of the first in the area to offer students a program in LGBT studies.
Many universities in the area offer LGBT resource centers, including the University of Pennsylvania, which established one of the first in 1982. Few other universities have taken the next step to institutionalize LGBT studies, which puts Temple at the forefront academically.
“The rationale of the oversight committee (which developed the curriculum for the minor) was that the courses are out there we might as well pull them together as a comprehensive minor so students can put it on their transcripts,” said Patricia Melzer, advising coordinator for the new LGBT minor and director of the women’s studies program.
Melzer also mentioned the validation that some student groups on campus feel with the creation of the new minor.
“I think that it validates our presence on campus,” said Victoria White of the Rainbow Pride Alliance, an LGBT group at Temple, “just like African American studies and women’s studies do.”
LGBT student groups like S-FLAG (Student Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and Lambda began the process of petitioning for the minor about two years ago, White said. They collected signatures from faculty and students at various events like National Day of Silence, a yearly event in which participants protest anti-LGBT abuse.
The initial curriculum was developed from existing courses from several departments. It was put together by Rebecca Alpert, former co-director of women’s studies and current chair of the religion department, and an oversight committee of five to six faculty members from various departments.
Melzer helped revise the proposal and in May 2004, two years after the process began, the minor was approved by Temple’s board of trustees to be implemented in the fall of 2004.
The minor itself consists of a number of courses examining gender, sexuality and sexual orientation across various disciplines. Students can delve into a variety of areas including public health, African American studies and sociology.
There are two requirements for the minor: an internship at an LGBT agency and Gay and Lesbian Lives, a course the oversight committee plans to add to LGBT Studies.
The course titles range from Human Sexuality to The African American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Experience, and will be expanding in the spring to include courses such as Religion and Sexuality: East and West, Sex Roles in Cross-Cultural Perspectives and AIDS and Society.
The internship requires 120 hours of fieldwork in an LGBT community agency. Students in the past have worked with The William Way Community Center in Center City and volunteered at summer camps geared toward LGBT youth.
“We do have LGBT community agencies on file,” Melzer said. “I’m pretty confident that we could place two students immediately.”
The freestanding minor is administrated by the women’s studies program of the CLA, and is open to students from all majors. For more information or to register for the new LGBT minor, contact the CLA Advising Center located on the first floor of Sullivan Hall.
Candice Thompson can be reached at email@example.com.