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Saturday, November 26, 2022

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Students engaged in Penrose's class. Students engaged in Penrose's class.

Off the Beaten Course: LGBT 322

In this course, students learn about the struggle for LGBT rights and the continuing challenges faced by the LGBT community.
By SDSU News Team

Off the Beaten Course is a series that delves into SDSU's course catalog to share unique and non-traditional classes.

Course title: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies — History and Culture
Professor’s name:  Walter Penrose, Jr.

1) What inspired you to create this course?  

My own interest in the history of sexuality and LGBT rights.

2) What can students expect to learn from this course?  

The focus of the course is on LGBT history and culture. Students are challenged to understand that the way we view sexuality and gender is unique and time-specific. Native American cultures, for example, were much more understanding of sexual and gender variance than European colonists who settled on our shores. Students also learn about the struggle for LGBT rights and the continuing challenges faced by the LGBT people.

3) What makes this course different from similar courses?   

This course is offered for upper-division general education credit in the humanities, but differs from other such courses in that it provides a safe-space for LGBT students to learn about their own history, and for other allied students to expand their understanding and acceptance of LGBT people. I hope that someday this may become a required course for all students as we strive toward a more tolerant and humane society.

4) Is there one day on the syllabus for this course you most look forward to? If yes, why?  

I most look forward to student presentations, which vary from historicizing the history of sexuality to thinking about LGBT rights, experiences and culture in the world today.

5) What’s your favorite thing about teaching this course?  

It keeps me young! Well, sort of. I live vicariously through and learn a lot from the students, a self-selecting group who are involved in fighting for LGBT rights, or simply interested in learning more about LGBT people. The students have a lot to teach each other and myself.

6) Any other thoughts?

Invariably, the course leads to some sobering statistics, anecdotes and knowledge. Suicide rates among transgender people are incredibly high, and serve as a reminder of how the struggle for acceptance and tolerance needs to continue to be fought vehemently.