Queer studies minor exposes students to important ideas

More information about the queer studies minor is on the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies website. (Archive photo by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

The queer studies minor at Kansas State is designed to help interested students learn more about queer history, become advocates for other students and learn to recognize and navigate discrimination in the workforce.

Rachel Levitt, teaching assistant professor in the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Department, said the minor is not limited to students interested in career-specific LGBTQ studies but is an asset to all students’ job retention after starting their careers.

Levitt, who serves as the minor’s co-director, said it is important for students to know the minor exists if they want to learn about queer history or if they want to be a proper advocate for other queer students.

“It is amazing because we often think of majors as a specific field someone wants to go into, but a minor can give you the background you need to succeed in whatever field you are going to be in,” Levitt said.

Through the minor, students are exposed to different lessons that explain queer history, development and conflicts. Being aware of these topics is essential in the workforce, Levitt said.

“A cool thing about a minor like this is it gives you the understanding to not only get a job but also keep a job,” Levitt said. “We often talk about job placement, but a queer studies minor helps with job retention because you are going to be able to uphold non-discrimination policies to their fullest.”

Levitt said it also helps give people the foundation to succeed in all professions because they learn how to be properly inclusive in the workplace.

“You are going to be able to understand and accommodate the needs of LGBTQ populations because you have the structural, ideological, and interpersonal understanding of the way that transphobia and violence play out within queer populations,” Levitt said.

Levitt said students in the minor come from a variety of majors and follow many different career paths.

“Whether you are someone who wants to make their career doing advocacy work for the queer population, or if you are someone who wants to be the kind of dentist that LGBTQ people feel safe taking their kids to, these courses are perfect,” Levitt said.

Based on his personal experience and after graduating from K-State in 2019 with a minor in queer studies, Adam Carr, project administrator for the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs, said another reason students should consider adding the minor is if they are queer themselves.

“As a student and a queer person, I thought this was a great way to expand my understanding of our communities and our identities,” Carr said. “To me, it gave me a deeper understanding of the community and the history.”

Carr said the courses he took through the minor also helped him understand his identity and gave him ways to connect to the students he works with at the DMSA office.

“When you are working with students from historically marginalized communities, having that deeper understanding of yourself helps you find ways to connect with students and understand their challenges,” Carr said.

The discussions on various identities helped Carr develop a better connection with people who have different experiences than himself.

“Being a cisgendered, white gay man, my experience of queerness is very different than people who have other identities within being queer,” Carr said. “So, getting to explore and learn gave me a better connection to people with identities I do not share.”

Besides learning about different identities, the minor is helpful and informative for students interested in activism, Julia Coverdale — junior in anthropology and diversity chair for the Arts and Sciences ambassadors — said.

“To me, the minor means a lot as someone active in the queer community at K-State,” Coverdale said. “It’s given me tools to become a better queer activist and person, as well as to learn more about queer history, especially through an intersectional lens.”

The queer studies minor requires 15 credit hours, including one required core course — Queer Studies: Concepts, History, Politics — and four additional elective courses found in the undergraduate catalog.

More information about the queer studies minor is on the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies website.