Women’s and gender studies program introduces LGBTQ minor

The College of Arts and Sciences introduced a new minor designed to help break down barriers and create diversity among students and academics departments last spring.

The 15-credit interdisciplinary minor is called Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer studies, or LGBTQ for short, and is offered through the Arts and Sciences’ Women’s and Gender Studies program.

“Students signed a petition in favor of the implementation of the minor while it was being conceived over the last three years,” said Steven Butterman, the director of Women’s and Gender Studies.

The addition gave students in Arts and Sciences another option in fulfilling the college’s requirement to have a minor along with their major.

“The new minor was ultimately approved by the Faculty Senate last year, and we inaugurated the program with our new gateway course last spring,” Butterman said.

When he taught one of the minor’s required classes – WGS 202, Introduction to LGBTQ Studies – last semester, the course was so popular that its maximum capacity of 25 students had to be raised.

“We ended up with 37 students in the class,” Butterman said. “I did not have the heart to turn students away.”

To encourage diversity, students are required to take courses in sociology and political science, as well as two director-approved courses in any other academic department to complete the minor.

Butterman believes that incorporating faculty members from different areas of study into the minor will “encourage collaboration among colleagues in various disciplines.”

In addition, five one-year scholarships of $10,000 apiece were awarded this year to support the study of LGBTQ-related courses.

One of the recipients was sophomore Adam Tomashek, who is majoring in biochemistry and visual journalism and minoring in chemistry and LGBTQ studies.

“I’m really looking forward to continuing to open up my mind to different opinions and new ideas,” said Tomashek, who will start taking courses in the minor in the spring 2013 semester.

Another recipient of the scholarship was senior Leor Avramovich. In addition to the LGBTQ minor, Avramovich is majoring in both women’s and gender studies and psychology, and is on the pre-law track.

“I am very interested in the minor,” said Avramovich, who will also start the minor next semester. “The women’s and gender studies program is a very nurturing environment.”

Butterman believes there are “students across a multitude of orientations, ethnicities and intellectual pursuits that have made the new minor a safe space for the rigorous exchange of ideas and insight.”