LGBT major coming to City College, pending approval

Ellen Brooker; front; Marilyn McCullogh; middle; Jesse Reyes; back listen to Professor Ruth Ann Mahaney in their Lesbian/Gay American History class Thursday March 3. The class and Professor Mahaney are eager for a Gay/Lesbian studies major at City College. PHOTO BY JESSICA NORTH / THEGUARDSMAN

By Emily Daly
The Guardsman

City College is on the verge of making LGBT Studies an official major, pending the approval of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office in Sacramento.

“Now is a really good time to do this,”  LGBT Studies Chair Ardel Thomas said.

The action is the culmination of three or four years of research, talking to students and faculty and writing the proposal after more and more students wanted to transfer with the major.

Thomas said that increased enrollment, both in LGBT courses and throughout all departments, also gave the proposal good timing.

LGBT Studies is considered a legitimate intellectual study around the world, Thomas said. And even schools in conservative areas like her birthplace, Oklahoma, offer the program. Thomas listed University of Maryland as a college offering an exceptional LGBT Studies degree.

“We’re actually a little behind the curve. That’s why we need to get this going,” she said. “The programs are everywhere. We need to catch up.”

Associated Students President Elizabeth Weinberg, who is among those who support the creation of the major, said it would benefit the college.

“I think it would increase the awareness of different perspectives, which is incredibly important in a diverse community,” Weinberg said.

To create a new major at City College, faculty need to submit a proposal with a mission statement, the areas of study offered within the major and goals that students studying the major will be expected to achieve, Thomas said. The proposal must also show how useful the major will be and how its courses can fulfill general education requirements.

Thomas said students majoring in LGBT studies could easily take care of almost all of their general education requirements, and an LGBT Studies degree would be a good foundation for students interested in applying to law school or graduate school.

“Anything that a good humanities degree could do, a LGBT major could do,” Thomas said. She explained that LGBT courses are multidisciplinary, multicultural and deal with modern world issues.

Thomas noted the City College administration has been very supportive of her proposal and said she doesn’t expect any opposition from Sacramento or anywhere else, although there is no set date for when students could begin declaring an LGBT major.

Marla Fisher, a student worker at City College’s Queer Resource Center, said she hadn’t heard of LGBT Studies becoming an official major, but thought the news was great.

“I’ll tell all my clients,” she said.

According to’s college search service, 15 schools in the United States offer a degree in LGBT Studies. The College Equality Index lists 28 schools with minors in LGBT Studies and 25 with concentrations in the subject.

LGBT Studies became a department at the college in 1989, according to the department homepage, and City College offered its first LGBT-related course, a gay literature class, in fall 1972.

City College also has its own “outlist,” of faculty, administrators and staff who openly identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The objective of the list is to end stereotypes and discrimination by showing that people of all sexual orientations exist everywhere in daily life. Currently, there are 81 names on the list.


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