The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has announced it will offer a new minor in LGBT studies, making the school the first university in the state to offer an LGBT minor, ULL's student newspaper The Vermillion reports.
"It's not only going to promote acceptance and tolerance on campus, but it's also going to give students who are LGBT, questioning, or just looking for some sort of support the knowledge and comfort of knowing there are people on campus they can turn to if they need something," Christina Newgebaver, assistant coordinator for the LGBT minor, told The Vermillion. "It will hopefully promote educated learning about LGBTs and not promote the stereotypes that are out there."
The LGBT minor became available to students this past spring semester. According to sociology professor DeAnn Kalich, Ph.D., who led the initiative to create the minor, a UL campus-climate survey conducted a few years ago found some aspects of campus life were less LGBT-inclusive than the university might have hoped.
In a survey released to different colleges about inclusiveness of LGBT topics, an unknown department returned a survey form with the words "This is bull----!" written across the front. The survey committee also found prejudices in housing, particularly against transgender students, were predominant at the time.
However, some department heads did provide helpful feedback, prompting the decision to initiate an interdisciplinary LGBT minor that would contribute to a more inclusive campus. The requirements for the 18-hour minor draw on preexisting classes like sociology and anthropology, but can also incorporate a variety of other classes as long as students agree to complete extra coursework related to LGBT issues.
A representative from the Human Rights Campaign called Kalich to applaud the new minor, particularly considering Louisiana has no employment protections in place for LGBT people.
"In terms of the bigger picture, we're just stepping on the bus at our university," Kalich told The Vermillion. "Now, will we sit in the back or not is the question? I don't think we're trying to take over, but we're trying to get recognition and equality. That's our vision: equality for everyone.