Last Modified: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 6:42 PM The recent public dust-up over a fledgling academic minor in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette might be noteworthy in any university town.
After all, the planet is small, the web worldwide and the possibility for soundbites unyielding this election year. A tempest in Lafayette may travel the road to Lake Charles.
Thus, the Louisiana Family Forum has criticized the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for its minor academic program offering, which the organization says is out of step with Louisiana values.
Since the spring semester, ULL has offered the LGBT studies minor, drawing from some 100 existing courses already offered around campus. At least one dean has said the minor has some popularity. Perhaps so.
The Family Forum should not be faulted for speaking out on matters of public interest; that’s what such organizations do. The American Civil Liberties Union has also issued a statement on the flip side of the matter, and has that perfect right. Let the discussions — but, please, not the posturing — begin.
ULL President E. Joseph Savoie, in his weekly blog, wrote that creating and approving academic minors differs from creating and approving majors. The institution itself can create and approve a minor, while the institution, the University of Louisiana Board and the state Board of Regents must give their approval to an academic major. Savoie said some 200 universities across the country offer academic studies in LGBT; to offer the minor, he said, does not imply the university is an advocate or adversary on specific LGBT-related issues.
Savoie rightly notes that LGBT minors may actually bolster their work preparedness. “Rooted in sociology, studies of human subgroups help prepare students for careers, such as counselors, personnel directors, teachers, social workers, criminal justice professionals, healthcare providers, managers and those involved in pastoral care,” he wrote.
The Baton Rouge Advocate reported that U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, who is seeking election to a newly created House seat that includes Southwest Louisiana, also recommended that ULL drop the minor, which he suggested has neither academic benefit for students nor “worthwhile financial return to taxpayers.”
But Savoie’s assertion that the courses for the minor were drawn from existing campus courses answers the first charge nicely: The courses have the same benefit within a LGBT minor as they would have outside the minor within their own, individual departments. And not every academic course of study has a measurable financial return; some hold their own intrinsic value or contribute to the common body of knowledge that all people need. Consider, for example, a religion minor.
In the end, the LGBT minor will sink or swim on its own merits. As time passes, this issue will seem, well, minor. This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney,
Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.
Posted By: Erin Kelly On: 7/20/2012
Title: Controversy follows ULL's LGBT offering
"If what is said about the courses already being offered at the university prior to being compiled into a minor or true, then there should be no need for such a minor." -- That could be said about any minor at the university. By that rationale, you could get rid of minors in psychology or history.
"If the university should decide to create a minor that studies the behavioral of any particular ethnic group for example there would likely be (and rightly so) a public uproar." -- Why rightly so? Programs like LGBT studies, women's studies, African American studies, Asian studies, Creole/Cajun studies etc., were created to allow for scholarship in specific fields that were previously presented through a Eurocentric point of view. Creating programs of studies such as these allows specific groups to evaluate, study and analyze their history on their own terms, which they should have the right to do, especially if universities such as UL-L are offering it. The point of higher education is to provide a well-rounded education to people of all backgrounds, not to create a singular trajectory of education that pushes everyone down identical paths. Our education system was built around a model that has marginalized certain oppressed groups in the past; programs like these seek to correct that marginalization by allowing students to study programs that provide comprehensive study and scholarship.
Students aren't being forced to take the LGBT minors; they are adults who can choose which programs they want to study, so there really should be no uproar. And to suggest that the program has no academic value is naive, considering the current climate in our society related to LGBT studies. Just because there aren't many jobs in Louisiana that would benefit from an employee with an LGBT minor doesn't mean these jobs don't or won't exist -- they exist (mostly outside of the south) where LGBT communities consider themselves part of a civil rights movement. Whether or not people agree that it is a legitimate civil rights movement is irrelevant, since those people aren't the ones taking the classes and everyone has the right to believe--and study--the programs of their choice.
Posted By: Yax K'uk Mo' On: 7/19/2012
You realize that UL has minors for African-American studies and Cajun and Creole studies, right?
Posted By: J Boudreaux On: 7/19/2012
Title: Controversy follows ULL's LGBT offering
If what is said about the courses already being offered at the university prior to being compiled into a minor or true, then there should be no need for such a minor. If the university should decide to create a minor that studies the behavioral of any particular ethnic group for example there would likely be (and rightly so) a public uproar. Why do institutions of so called higher learning open themselves up to such controversy?