Gay studies program grows in student numbers
Instructors report surplus of new class registration
September 12, 2007 8:37 PM
National Coming Out Day may still be a couple weeks away, but here at SF State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) classes are more popular than ever.
The school is not alone in offering an LGBT degree; other U.S. colleges offering similar programs include Ivy League schools Yale and Cornell University as well as Chicago’s DePaul University—a Roman Catholic Institution.
Sociology and Human Sexuality lecturer Jen Reck has taught Queer Cultures and Society at SF State since the class was created four semesters ago. Although it has always proved to be popular, Reck said, she has seen an increased level of interest in her class with every semester.
“Each semester I see more and more students coming into the class and wanting to take it,” Reck said.
Reck added that students in the the class come from a wide variety of different majors, disciplines and sexual orientations—though many of the students belong to the LGBT community, several are heterosexual students, Reck said.
Emo Loredo, 24, came to SF State from Cal State Stanislaus last semester. Loredo, who is treasurer of the SF State’s Queer Alliance and a student in Reck’s Queer Cultures in Society class, said SF State has more options for LGBT students than his former campus did.
“I feel very fortunate to have come to SF State and to have come across this program,” he said.
Fellow student Chantal Buck, 20, agrees. Buck grew up in Berkeley where she says she was always exposed to a very accepting culture. Now in the class, Buck said she is enjoying the engaging discussions and learning environment which she hopes will prevent others from discriminating against people in the LGBT community.
“Through education and experience (discriminators should) lose the fear of the unknown and learn that (LGBT people are) just people,” Buck said.
Some students would like to see more offered in LGBT studies.
Former Queer Alliance President Bradley Zeledon, 21, said he did some research on fulfilling his Segment III graduation requirement with LGBT coursework, but was discouraged when he discovered that not all the classes seemed to be offered every semester. Zeledon said he thinks it’s sad.
“It seems like we’re still underrepresented,” he said.
Lecturer Gary Mallare, teach es a course called Homophobia and Coming Out, and had a surplus of interested students this semester. The popularity of the course forced him to over-enroll his section by a few students and turn away others.
Mallare refers to the course as “experiential,” and said he uses his background in psychology to direct his class through a thinking process that’s not about finding right or wrong answers. Discussions cover queer rights history, stereotypes and prejudice, as well as more personal topics like strategies for coming out.
“My primary goal for this class is a lot of self-awareness,” he said. “A lot of self-growth.”
Andrew Daulton, 27, said he’s taking Mallare’s class to help fulfill part of his Segment III requirement but the openly gay student also said it’s important for students to take this class as way, in addition to finding support on social networking sites such Facebook or MySpace.
“I was out my senior year, but before that--forget it-- there was no support,” he said.
“Now you have support and it’s actually in the flesh,” Daulton said of the class. “It’s emotional because you see it and it affects you and other people.”
The LGBT minor is still in its early stages, Mallare said. He compared the area of studies to ethnic studies, which started out very broadly but has since separated into Asian-American studies, Black studies and several more fields.
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