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Toronto Metropolitan University set to launch new LGBTQ2S+ minor

Interdisciplinary program reflects diversity in curricula
By: Tania Ulrich
November 01, 2022
Three young people of varying genders laugh together.

New LGBTQ2S+ Studies minor will facilitate opportunities for dialogue and research across disciplines, and provide students with a greater understanding of LGBTQ2S+ peoples and communities. Photo: The Gender Spectrum Collection

The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Senate committee recently approved the creation of a new interdisciplinary LGBTQ2S+ Studies minor, further advancing representation in academic curriculum. It will be offered in the 2023 academic year.

The umbrella program, which will be administered by the Sociology department in the Faculty of Arts, will help to build connections between faculty and students from LGBTQ2S+ communities, and will highlight how this field of study has shaped contemporary world perspectives.

Drawing on courses from the Faculty of Arts, The Creative School and the Faculty of Community Services, the program builds on existing TMU course offerings that centre LGBTQ2S+ experiences and communities. The new minor will support further development of LGBTQ2S+ programming and scholarship, and encourage organization of LGBTQ2S+ activities and initiatives.

Removing barriers to inclusive studies

The courses that make up the new LGBTQ2S+ Studies minor are offered as either liberal studies or open electives, making the courses accessible to students from all programs. Students must complete six courses to obtain the minor, including one of two required courses, either Queer Sociology or LGBTQ2S+ Histories. With electives like ‘The Language of Love, Sex, and Gender’, ‘Queer Interior’ and ‘Race and Gender in Public Policy’, students will be able to draw from a truly interdisciplinary program of study and apply new concepts and theoretical frameworks to all areas of their studies.

Offering educational resources that affirm LGBTQ2S+ identities will allow students to connect with the rich history and present of LGBTQ2S+ movements, and personally engage students from queer and trans communities.

More broadly, the program, which will offer students an enhanced understanding of sexual diversity and its complex intersections with other aspects of identity, can offer all students deeper insights into their own identities in relation to society and social categories, whether they identify with the LGBTQ2S+ communities or not.

History professor Art Blake, the leading faculty member of the working group that pushed the initiative for the new minor forward, says that formalizing LGBTQ2S+ studies in this way offers students who identify with these communities a safe space at a critical time of self-discovery, offering affirmation and validation.

The new minor offers an important resource that goes beyond existing student services and clubs. Having curricula that support them and their lived realities, Blake says, invites students from the LGBTQ2S+ communities to fully actualize, even if it’s not possible for them to be their authentic selves back in their homes, with their families or their local communities.

The new minor will be enormously affirming to queer, trans and Two Spirit faculty members, signaling the alignment of university leadership in its support of course development in the area of LGBTQ2S+ studies. The new offering also allows faculty more space and support for bringing their whole selves to work, says Blake, and promotes opportunities to connect and forge community with other faculty members who take a personal interest in this area of academia.


Three people of varying genders sitting around a table

By honouring the legacies of LGBTQ2S+ movements, and supporting gender inclusivity and sexual diversity, the new minor in LGBTQ2S+ Studies recognizes communities that have been historically marginalized, disadvantaged and discriminated against. Photo: The Gender Spectrum Collection

Fostering collectivity and activism

Professional Communication Professor Marty Fink, a faculty member who was also part of the working group to realize the new minor, says it gives students a chance to imagine queer and trans utopias and reimagine what inclusivity can look like in ways that consider how queer and trans histories, art, culture, and activisms can build spaces for collective liberation.

“Bringing together students in a constellation of queer and trans courses will allow students to develop a complex body of knowledge that they can integrate into their own programs of study and into their work inside and outside of campus,” says Fink.

Moreover, Fink sees the larger benefits of programs like this one in helping to contextualize LGBTQ2S+ movements and show students how solidarity organizing can inform queer and trans movements today and in the future, as well as highlight the resiliency of these communities.

Trans Awareness

The announcement of the new LGBTQ2S+ Studies minor comes just in time for Trans Awareness Month in November. University community members are invited to participate in advocacy and educational events that celebrate, honour and raise the visibility of the trans community. November 20, the Trans Day of Remembrance, is also a time to honour the memory of victims of transphobic violence.

Large Pride parade flag being held by numerous volunteers

New minor aims to celebrate LGBTQ2S+ communities and offer opportunities for reimagining inclusivity in our world.

To be part of the conversation and learn more, sign-up for the LGBTQ2S+ Studies Minor Info Session (virtual event) on Thursday, November 10, 2022 at 12 p.m. to 12:55 p.m. Join Professor Art Blake, along with Positive Space Co-Chair Michael Turco for a Q&A on the forthcoming minor, which will be available in next year's academic calendar.

All advising staff are welcome and encouraged to attend. Students who identify as part of LGBTQ2S+ spectrum as well as those who do not, and who are eager for education in the vibrant interdisciplinary field of LGBTQ2S+ Studies should attend.

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