Eastern Washington University has expanded its course offerings to include a minor in sexuality and queer studies – part of an effort, faculty members say, to incorporate more teachings about LGBT communities.
“This is the first part of a larger revision of the curriculum,” said Judy Rohrer, director of the EWU Women’s and Gender Studies Program.
The program already offered a major and a minor in women’s and gender studies, which include courses on feminist movements and theories. The new minor, offered starting this fall quarter, explores the history, activism and contributions of LGBT people.
The minor curriculum includes four courses or 20 credits. Those topics also will be incorporated into the major curriculum, and “sexuality” will be added to the name of the umbrella program, Rohrer said.
“It’s recognizing that there are lots of people who don’t fit a very traditional image of gender roles and expectations around sexuality,” said Mimi Marinucci, a professor who also teaches philosophy at EWU.
Washington State University, Western Washington University, Portland State University and the University of Oregon offer similar minors in sexuality and queer studies.
In addition to promoting inclusivity and curbing discrimination, Rohrer said there are economic arguments for LGBT-focused education. She cited a 2018 Gallup survey that found 12% of Gen Z teenagers identified as something other than heterosexual.
“Employers are looking for students who know how to navigate a diverse, increasingly diverse world,” Rohrer said. “Especially in the service sector, and in education, and in health care, people want employees who have knowledge of marginalized communities.”
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