LGBT looks to get degree

LMC to be district first

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Los Medanos College is currently in the early stages of becoming the first community college in the Contra Costa County Community College District to offer an Associate of Arts degree and/or certificate in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies.

The need for a degree in LGBT became abundantly clear to English professor Jeffery Matthews when he noticed an increased desire to learn about the subject from the college community.

“Over the years interest in LGBT issues have risen and of course with the high profile battles over same-sex marriage that we’ve recently gone through as a country I think that society in general, and certainly the LMC community, is just more aware of gay issues than they ever have been in any other point of history,” said Matthews.

Despite the program being in its beginning phase, Matthews expressed hope that the degree will be considered.

“I’ve been here long enough to see other programs form, so I know what the process is,” said Matthews. “I’m actually feeling very optimistic at the moment because we’ve already got two of the core courses created.”

New programs are required to have major requirements of at least 18 units.

LGBT Studies, which is currently being taught, and LGBT Literature, which will be taught for the first time in the spring, are two of the courses already created and being implemented, making up two out of the four core courses required for the program.

Matthews will be working with faculty from other departments to create the remaining two courses needed — History of Human Sexuality and LGBT Film and Drama — which they are looking to have approved to be taught by next fall.

“Then what we’re doing is working with other departments that already have courses that deal with LGBT issues and we’re working with them to bring out those LGBT issues specifically in their course outlines,” said Matthews. “Those courses would then be the elective courses.”

They are also looking to help students transfer as many universities have began to offer degrees in LGBT related fields.

“Whether you get the certificate or the degree, it’s the sort of thing that will show your future employer that you’re well versed in this segment of our community,” explained Matthews. “Usually being aware of diversity regarding LGBT issues is usually a sign that you’re aware of diversity in other areas of our society as well.”

According the the LMC website, potential new instructional programs go through a process in two different phases at the college and state level. First presenting to the Academic Senate and then to the Shared Governance Council for evalutation and recommendation for the president.

If the program is approved by the president, it will enter the second phase in which the proposal is developed and goes through the same process as phase one. Once approved, it is submitted to the Contra Costa Community College District Educational Planning Committee for approval then forwarded for to the district’s governing board for approval. The proposal is then finally sent to the Chancellor’s office for state level to be given the go-ahead.

Some sections differ in proposals for Career and Technical Education/occupational programs at LMC, and are turned in for review by the Regional Occupational Consortium before being submitted to the Chancellor’s office.

As it is still in its infancy stage, the soonest the program could be implemented is by fall 2017.