Students are back on campus at Weber State University for the fall semester and some of them are taking part in a brand-new program. It’s a new minor program that can be paired with any major at the university and the program’s director hopes it will help build bridges between the LGBTQ+ community and the general public.
“Higher education doesn’t seek to indoctrinate,” WSU’s director of the Queer Studies program Melina Alexander tells ABC4. She continues, “It seeks to educate and bring people together, and I think the more knowledge you have, the better we are able bring people together and have a common level of understanding and a common level of language that we can speak.”
Alexander says creating a deeper level of understanding is part of the reason the program started taking shape three years ago.
When the time came to name the new program, the program coordinators deliberately chose “Queer Studies.” Alexander explains, “Queer is no longer a derogatory term. It’s something that’s widely accepted among the queer community, and it was one of those taking back a word for empowerment.”
As the fall semester begins the first students will take part in the program. Alexander says she hopes what they learn will help build bridges in the greater community. She states: “We should not discriminate based on something such as LGBTQ+ and in conservative communities that’s hard, that’s very hard to do.”
The professor says this program will allow students and allies of the LGBTQ+ community to get involved in a greater capacity. She says students who are not part of the LGBTQ+ community will also participate in the minor program. This, she says is important “in order to relate with our fellow human beings on a more compassionate and, I would almost say, caring level.”
Students will take classes that dive into the history of the LGBTQ+ community in the U.S., differences within the community, and how the community is treated around the world. She says the topics the classes cover help “to show support of diversity in all of its many, many lenses.”
She adds, “The more knowledge you have, the better you are at relating with individuals, and so programs such as queer studies is very important to get all members of the community in support of each other, bringing people together.”