UL first in Louisiana to offer LGBT minor as option
Published: Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 22:07
Despite early difficulties, sociology professor DeAnn Kalich, Ph.D., successfully spearheaded the creation of UL Lafayette’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) minor, which became available to students this past spring semester, making the university the first in Louisiana to offer an LGBT minor.
“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,” said Christina Newgebaver, assistant coordinator for the LGBT minor. “It will hopefully promote educated learning about LGBTs and not promote the stereotypes that are out there.”
Kalich explained that the initiative for the minor came from the findings of a UL campus-climate survey conducted a few years ago to determine the inclusiveness of LGBT people in all areas of campus life. As a member of a committee consisting of students, faculty and staff, Kalich worked with Pearson Cross, Ph.D., head of the political science department, to survey the academic support and inclusiveness of LGBT topics within different colleges.
Although Kalich and Cross received mostly helpful responses from the department heads they surveyed, an unknown department head returned one of the survey forms with the words “This is bull----!” written across the front. Additionally, the committee uncovered significant housing prejudices at the time, especially pertaining to transgender students.
At the conclusion of the survey, the committee asked Kalich to initiate a future interdisciplinary LGBT minor that would hopefully aid in creating a more inclusive atmosphere for LGBT people on campus.
“At UL, in many ways, we’ve been a leader. When we were USL, we led the way in desegregation, and later we tried to lead the way in bringing women and other minorities up to the southern regional average salary,” Kalich said. “I think that this is recognition of another unprotected class of citizens who really don’t have civil rights, particularly in this state.”
Afterward, Kalich and Newgebaver designed a minor curriculum and sent it for approval to the administration. Because the university was experiencing severe budget cuts, the minor could only consist of existing university resources, including classes. In order to make the minor interdisciplinary, other colleges signed off so that their specific classes could count toward the minor.
A major paperwork delay occurred in spring 2011 when signature documents were lost, until Kalich and Newgebaver, who is also the administrative assistant for sociology, anthropology and child and family studies, walked the paperwork through to the appropriate people in order for all courses to get approval. Due to this delay, the minor was not officially available until the following year, although some students did begin taking classes that counted toward the minor.