Social work and English professors, an honors lecturer and a sociology student will have one thing in common this fall. They will all teach a class that is the first of its kind at Texas State — LGBT Studies: An Interdisciplinary Approach.
The class started as an idea by Shaun Bryan Ford, sociology senior, during an independent study course. During this time, he brought the idea to several professors who jumped on board.
“People don’t necessarily know what it is or that it’s an academic field,” Ford said. “It hasn’t been at Texas State, but there’s always a first.”
The class’ instructors feel it is a step in the right direction for the school, though Texas State is not the first to teach classes on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“It is time that Texas State offers the course, and I’m excited that it’s in honors,” said Catherine Hawkins, professor in the school of social work. “I think it’s an extension of human rights interests. A lot of people think human rights issues only happen outside, but they pertain to the U.S. as well.”
Hawkins will be the main instructor teaching the course.
The course will be taught in three sections, each with a different emphasis. Hawkins will concentrate on social, political and legal issues pertaining to the LGBT community. These issues include challenges to same-sex marriage and domestic partnership. The course will bring in faculty from the English and theatre departments and several guest speakers.
“It’s fascinating,” said Nancy Wilson, assistant professor in English. “It’s a history of human thought, from sociology to psychology.”
Wilson will teach a portion emphasizing LGBT in literature.
The course will also involve a section on theater, with an emphasis on the play “Sordid Lives,” which will be performed by the Wimberley Players in November. Hawkins hopes this will cause university and community interaction to become embedded in the course. Honors senior lecturer John Hood is slated to teach this section.
Wilson said despite the number of universities with entire departments devoted to LGBT studies, there still remains a lack of programs like this in the nation. Wilson said she noticed several universities, including the University of Oklahoma, lacking allies and support for such programs. She noticed the absence during a writing center conference, where the Texas State writing center was named a safe workplace.
“It’s a really important course, and I think it’s important for the university,” Wilson said. “Hopefully it’s the first of many, and we will have an LGBT studies department.”
Ford said this marks a new chapter for Texas State.
“As our professors say, no one can teach you to be gay,” Ford said. “It’s an academic study. So, we expect you to learn.”
Ford noted he wouldn’t have been the first Texas State undergraduate to start a course.
“I went to a leadership conference at the Lyndon B. Johnson library and found out that LBJ had introduced the first journalism class to Texas State,” Ford said. “I never thought I had anything in common with him, but apparently I do.”
Editor’s Note: Shaun Bryan Ford is a former employee of The University Star.