A new psychology course called Sexual Minorities: Identities and Communities is being considered for a general education course.
The class, taught by Dr. Robert McKelvain, currently has 15 students.
McKelvain said the point of the course is to teach students about how sexual minorities and mainstream culture interact.
“Members of sexual minorities are people who have differentness in regard to some aspect of sexuality and who the majority disadvantage because of those characteristics,” McKelvain said.
McKelvain said the course focuses on three different types of sexual minorities: those with developmental sexual disorders, transgender persons and the gay and lesbian community. He said problems in society arise because people misunderstand sexual minorities.
“An important problem in understanding sexual minorities is that our views of them are so simplistic and stereotyped,” McKelvain said.
Research, he said, is the way to defeat this misunderstanding.
“It’s a course about what we know from research in behavioral sciences,” McKelvain said. “We challenge stereotypes with research evidence.”
McKelvain said many people have a fear of learning about sexual minorities because they do not want people to assume they approve of it.
“Perhaps we are afraid that if we work to understand, someone will think that signals approval, but those things are different,” McKelvain said.
Dr. Richard Beck, chair of the Department of Psychology, said he sent an email to the administration to request the course be a general education course that could satisfy the social sciences credit.
“This is obviously a cultural issue dealing with sexual minorities and how they fit into the larger culture, so we asked for it to be added,” Beck said. “That way, a student from any major, even if they didn’t have elective room, could take it.”
Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost of the university, said the course is still being considered as a general education course because there are a few details that need to be worked out.
“I have some questions not specific to this course, but that we would have for all general education courses,” Rhodes said. “This one is such a specific topic with such a specific expertise that I want to be sure we answer those questions.”
He said because the course would be a broader course for a larger selection of students, multiple sections would need to be offered.
“I just want to make sure we have qualified individuals that can staff it across each semester,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes said after they can answer all of their questions regarding logistics, then they will look at offering the course to satisfy the social sciences credit.
“If we could allow access to general education, I want to allow that,” Rhodes said. “The main thing is I’m glad the course is being offered now.”