The nation’s first college department that studied homosexuality is trying for another feat: becoming the first California community college to offer LGBT studies as a major.
Faculty members at the City College of San Francisco’s LGBT studies program is pushing the state community college board in Sacramento to allow them to offer an associate’s degree in the field.
Ardel Thomas, chair of the LGBT studies department, said for years students have been asking for a major, but a degree would also “legitimize the department.”
“In some parts of the country, we’re seeing women’s studies and ethnic studies getting eyeballed for cuts,” she said. “We’re in a recession, but this isn’t going to cost the school anything.”
Several four-year universities in the Bay Area offer LGBT bachelor’s degrees, including San Francisco State, UC Berkeley and Stanford. Offering the degree to City College students who complete 21 credit hours of coursework will allow pupils to move on to four-year universities with an LGBT studies major.
Pau Crego, 23, a former LGBT studies student at CCSF, is one person who could have benefited from a major in the program.
Though he obtained an associates degree in women’s studies, the transgender international student will not be able to work in his field of choice, LGBT, until he receives a degree in the field.
“Legally, it would have reflected my field of study,” he said. “Recognizing LGBT as a major is very validating and necessary.”
City College’s curriculum committee gave Thomas the green light to approach Sacramento for a major this month.
Thomas said the curriculum committee’s approval is a larger hurdle than the state. She said the city college board is tougher and with its blessing, the major can now be listed in the school’s catalogue, which means students can start taking classes that will go toward the major. When it’s approved by the state those courses then will be retroactively added toward their degree. How long it will take Sacramento to decide on the program is unknown.
City College began offering LGBT courses in the 1970s. The department was officially recognized in 1989.