Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Course: SWRK 380-01A. “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”
Class Hours: 9:40-10:50 a.m. Even Days HAB 09
Instructor: John R. Yoakam, M.Div., Ph.D., LICSW, Assistant Professor
Office: 129 HAB Building
Office Hours: 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.; 1:00-2:00 p.m. Tues., Wed., Thurs.
Office Phone: 320-363-5155
Office FAX: 320-363-6103
Email: [email protected]

Course Description

The practice of social work involves the understanding of oppression and advocacy for disenfranchised groups, including sexual minorities. In the past three decades, human rights decrees and civil rights statutes have expanded to include the right of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) persons. Yet discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation continues along with hate crimes toward persons suspected of being GLBT. Pastoral statements from the church call of understanding and support for families struggling to come to terms with homosexuality and bisexuality.

The focus for this course will be on individuals who discover themselves to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The course will examine the response of families, communities, and the broader society to individuals who claim identities as GLBT. The course will study the cultural, historical, and religious roots of homophobia and heterosexism which stand as barriers to civil rights and personal liberties of GLBT persons and their families.

This course will examine the relationship of gender roles, sexual orientation and gender identity to the social climate within schools, religious institutions, the legal system, and the health care system. It will present models of practice in social work and related helping professions which affirm the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Knowledge and Skill Goals:

1. Cross cultural and international themes: Students will examine the experience of GLBT individuals representing diverse racial and cultural backgrounds. These cultures include but are not limited to African Americans, American Indians, Latino, Asian, and well as the deaf persons.

2. Development, evolutionary and historical themes: Students will become acquainted with the historical evolution of the concept of sexual orientation and gender identity, focusing particularly on European and American disciplines of medicine, psychology and psychiatry, anthropology, and sociology from ancient and indigenous cultures to the present.

3. Application of social scientific knowledge to issues in ethics, public policy, or practice in a professional area: Students will be able to trace the response of religious and political institutions as they sought to regulate, restrict, or expand the personal or civil liberties of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons, and those who advocate on their behalf in the arenas of social work and related fields of education, psychology, and law enforcement.

4. Philosophy of Science: Student will examine the changing concepts of scientific inquiry regarding sexual orientation and gender identity from essentialist to social constructionist perspectives.

5. Gender perspectives: Students will examine assumptions about gender role and gender identity as they pertain to GLBT persons through readings, guest speakers, and service-learning opportunities where they meet GLBT persons in the community.

Program Objectives Met:

1. Apply critical thinking skills within the context of professional social work practice.

This objective will be met during class sessions when we discuss representations of sexual minorities in popular media and literature.

2. Practice within the values and ethics of social work profession and with an understanding of and respect for the positive value of diversity.

This objective will be met during initial class sessions when we discuss social work ethics relating to the disenfranchised minorities and the responsibility of the profession to address oppression and discrimination.

3. Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and the strategies of change that advance social and economic justice.

Students will be introduced to the forms of oppression and discrimination which impact sexual minorities, namely heterosexism and homophobia. Students will discuss strategies of change to challenge these forms of discrimination throughout the course and will implement these Strategies in their service-learning experiences.

4. Understand the history of the social work profession and its current structures and issues.

This objective will be met when students are introduced to historical research that has explored the sexual orientation of the pioneering founding of mothers of social work and the challenges that labeling many of these women as lesbian bring to scholars in the present day.

Required Reading (Available at the campus book store)

Chandler, K. (1994) Passages of Pride. New York: Times Books (Out of print, but available in reprinted version in the campus book store)

Blumenfeld. W. & Raymond, D (1993) Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life. Boston: Beacon Press.

Boykin, K. (1996) One More River to Cross: Black and Gay in America. New York: Anchor Books

Brown, R.M. (1973) Rubyfruit Jungle

Feinberg.L. (1996) Transgender Warriors. Boston: Beacon Press

Fox, R. (1995) “Bisexual Identities” in D’ Augelli, A. & Patterson, C. (1995) Lesbian, Gay, and BiSexual Identities Over the Lifespan: Psychological Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press. Pp. 49-85. (reprint available in book store.)

Jennings, K. (1994) Becoming Visible. Boston: Alyson Publications, Inc.

Other Recommended Readings and Videos—Titles
(available at the Alcuin and Clemens Libraries)

Books and Journals:

The Bisexual Option
A Challenge to Love
Children of Horizons
Different Mothers
Dry Bones Breathe
Equal Rites
Gay and Lesbian Youth
Gay Culture in America
Gays, Lesbians, and Their Therapists
GLQ, A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies
Growing Up Gay in the South
Growing Up Gay
Hate Crimes: Confronting Violence against Lesbians and Gay Men
Heather Has Two Mommies
Homosexual Issues and the Workplace
Latin American Writers on Gay and Lesbian
Listen to the Stories: Gay and Lesbian Catholics
Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them
Oceanic Homosexualities
One Teenager in Ten
One of the Boys
Out in the World
Out of the Past
Outing Yourself
Permanent Partners
Queering the Pitch
Report of the Govern’s Task Force on Lesbian and Gay Minnesotans
Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex: Hate Speech
Straight From the Heart
Straight Jobs, Gay Lives
Two Teenagers in Twenty Working With Lesbian Gay, and Transgender Clients


Forbidden Love
Gay Youth
Growing Up Gay
Homophobia in the Workplace
The Lost Language of Cranes
Out of the Past
Pink Triangles
The Times of Harvey Milk
Straight From the Heart
The Sum of Us
Tongues Untied


Service-Learning 20 hours

(Selection of service-learning site or project due September 17, 2001).

As previously mentioned under Learning Objectives for this course, students will:

Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and the strategies of change that advance social and economic justice

Students will be introduced to the forms of oppression and discrimination which impact sexual minorities, namely heterosexism and homophobia. Students will discuss strategies of change to challenge tehse forms of discrimination throughout the course and will implement these strategies in their service-learning experiences.

To fulfill this objective, students will be required to complete twenty hours of service-learning. Students can elect to fulfill this requirement in one of the following ways:

Complete twenty hours of volunteer work with one of the following programs:

*Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Programs office at St. Cloud State University.
Contact person: Sheri Atkinson, director (320-654-5166, e-mail:[email protected])

*Prism organization (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender students and their allies) on the St.John’s/St. Ben’s campus. This work can include but is not limited to helping plan and implement events for National Coming Out week, the second week of October. Contact person: Brian Wood, Coordinator for Prism.

*GLBT community in St. Cloud. An organizing effort is under way to bring the various groups representing the GLBT community in St. Cloud together for mutual support and common projects, including Out-oberfest”, to be held in St. Cloud on October 14, 2001.
Contact person: Mike Smith (who is also the producer of the cable access television program, “Kinpride”) 320-251-2209 (home) or 320-253-2280 (work).

*Eclipse, the gay/straight alliance for GLBT youth and allies in St. Cloud.
Contact person: Dan Anderson, Principal of Clearview Elementary School, 320-743-2241. [email protected]

*A project of the student’s own choosing which demonstrates the student’s ability to advocate for justice and equality for GLBT persons. Such a project could include but is not limited to developing an advocate training event on campus to increase the capacity of students to address homophobia, transphobia, or other forms of discrimination which impact the lives of GLBT students and staff on this campus and community.


Because many of the program resources for GLBT persons are located in urban centers, this course will involve travel to two cities where students will have the opportunities to become acquainted with these programs and the persons who implement them.

Students are asked to set aside one class day, December 7, 2001, (when this course is regularly scheduled) to travel to the Twin Cities to visit programs which impact the lives Of GLBT persons. These programs may include Outfront Minnesota, the GLBT Counseling Program of Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis, District 202 (a community center for GLBT youth and those questioning their sexual orientation and gender identity and their allies), the
University of Minnesota Youth and AIDS Projects, and a congregation or religious organization which advocates on behalf of GLBT persons.

Students will also be asked to reserve Thursday, November8-Sunday, November 11, 2001 to attend the “Creating Change”, a national conference of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Students will need to leave from campus by 8:00 a.m. on November 8, 2001, in order to participate in the opening sessions of the conference on the evening of November 8. Students will need to pay for their own registration (or seek funding from the Student Senate) and their own meals. For a $25.00 fee, students can apply for a scholarship for the registration to the conference. Deadline for application: September 15, 2001. Alternatively, students can pay the $100 limited income fee which requires no application.

All efforts will be made to provide transportation (traveling by van from St. John’s/St. Ben’s) and community housing in Milwaukee. This Conference will draw over 1000 persons, many of whom are college students seeking to become effective organizers to address forms of discrimination which impact the lives of GLBT persons across this country.

Students will be asked to participate in a panel discussion for a workshop presentation, “Organizating on a Rural Catholic Midwestern College" submitted by the instructor. Students will be given adequate class time and instruction to prepare for this presentation.

For further information about the “Creating Change” conference, including scholarships and community housing, contact the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force website: Click on the “Creating Change” conference site.


This class will include guest speakers who represent a variety of points of view within the GLBT communities. The persons invited to address this class represent their own views and not those of the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. Students will use their own critical
thinking skills to examine how the views presented in class relate to their own beliefs and values.

Written Assignments

In order to fulfill the requirements for this course, students will complete the following written assignments. Students are expected to turn their work in on time. If the work is late, the student will be expected to negotiate the due date with the instructor but will be penalized one letter grade for late work.

1. Student Journal: (two pages per week)

Students will complete a two-page, type written, double-spaced, and dated response to the speakers and the readings and class discussions each week. These responses are not intended to be an evaluation of the readings, speakers, or discussions, but are to demonstrate how students are integrating what they have learning into their own thinking, values and opinions, and emerging professional interests. These assignments are due the first class session of each week reflecting on the events of the previous week.

2. Service-Learning Report: (minimum: two double-spaced, typed pages)

Student will complete a report documenting the twenty hours (or more) they did through service-learning. This report will include:

a. The name of the program, organization, or project where the student work.
b. The name of the contact person the student worked with and that persons address and phone number.
c. A one to two paragraph description of the placement (its mission and activities).
d. A detailed description of the activities and tasks the student was involved in this assignment. For example: “Organized National Coming Out Day event on campus: wrote and distributed fliers, wrote press release and contacted student newspaper; wrote a description of the event and distributed it through student and faculty e-mail lists, distributed and collected evaluation forms at the event, etc. I am interested in learning what specific skills you employed in organizing the event.
e. A two to three paragraph self-evaluation of the service-learning project: what the student learned from it; how it may have challenged the student’s previously held perceptions or beliefs about GLBT persons and how the project contributes to sustainable change in the community.

f. A one or two paragraph evaluation from the supervisor for the service-learning project about the work the student did.
g. The signature of the supervisor for the service-learning project.

3. Research Project (minimum 10 typewritten double-spaced pages).

Students will select a topic related to issues faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and their families. Students will then review the literature for this topic from a minimum of ten print resources including books, online journal articles, printed journal articles, a minimum of popular journal or newspaper articles (no more than four such sources). Students may consult websites in order to locate print sources and should include the name, author and address of the website and include this information in the bibliography under a separate category, “website consulted”, but the website will not be included in the ten print resources for the bibliography of the paper.

The paper should include the following information:

1. A literature review of ten print resources. A literature review is a summary, in your own words, of the information from the book or article. It is not intended to be one long quotation from the work, but is to demonstrate your ability to synthesize the material.

2. A description of the issue, its importance and relevance to your areas of professional interest (social work, nursing, education, business, etc.

3. A review of the applications of this issue to practice. This review should include a description of programs designed to address the issues you have identified, where the programs are located, their target populations, mission, outreach, and results (if known).

For example, if the topic you select has to do with the risks coming out as a GLBT youth, you should consult books and articles which have to do with GLBT youth suicide, dropping out of school, risk of violence, verbal or physical assault, homelessness, in your literature review. The description of issue should include relevant statistics (if available from studies), the extent of the issues faced by GLBT youth (mental health concerns, alienation from family members and peers, isolation due to geographic location or lack of transportation).

The application to practice should include descriptions of programs seeking to address the issues you have described, such as the Eclipse group for GLBT youth and their allies in St. Cloud; the programs in the Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts (Out 4 Good and Out for Equity) seeking to reduce the drop out rate for GLBT students; the University of Minnesota Youth and AIDS Projects, seeking to reduce the rate of HIV infection in gay and bisexual 13-21 year old males in Minnesota. It should also include the history of the organization: how and when it began, how it was organized and funded.

Suggestion: You may want to use the program you have chosen for your service-learning to demonstrate the professional application of the issue. By taking this route, you will save some time and be close to sources of information. You will then develop some expertise in this area because you, not only will have completed some academic research, but also you will have had some practical experience and will have become acquainted with a network of persons involved with the issue.

4. Bibliography
Students must reference materials quoted in their papers using the referencing system of the American Psychological Association (To see how to reference, consult the home page of the library at CSB/SJU and look under Research Guides – Research help citing online electronic sources – APA, MLA, Turban & Chicago Citation, Styles: Citation Style for Research Papers – APA. It’s color coded and very easy to use. At least ten-printed reference should be included (books, professional journal articles, no more than four references from popular magazines or newspapers). If you consult websites for information, include in a separate section “Websites consulted”, the Title and author for the website and the address of the website, and date of the material posted on the website (if available).

Timeline for Research Paper:

September 19, 2001 Topic selection submitted to instructor
October 17, 2001 Literature Review due
December 5, 2001 Final paper due (including the topic, literature review,
Description of the problem, applications for practice.

Grading Weight Grading

20% Attendance and class participation A 94-100
20% Journals AB 87-93
30% Service-Learning and Report B 80-86
30% Research Project BC 79-85
C 72-78
D 65-71
F <65

Attendance Policy:

Students who miss more than three classes for any reasons will fail the course.


August 30, 2001: Introduction to the course: review of course expectations and requirements. Discussion of the importance of this course and its professional and personal relevance to the students.

September 3, 2001 (Labor Day): Labor issues: Because this class is scheduled for Labor Day, we will be discussing labor issues which have relevance to GLBT persons including legislative initiatives to end discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity; the emergence of GLBT/Labor (unions) coalitions.
Reading assignment for this class: Blumenfeld and Raymond, pp. 218-271. Ch. 5, “Prejudice and Discrimination”. Discuss origins of prejudice; differences between homophobia and heterosexism. Video, “Out at Work”.

September 5, 2001: Sexual orientation, gender identity, socialization and gender roles. We will discuss the definitions of these terms and their relevance to understanding the nature of prejudice and discrimination toward GLBT persons. Reading assignment for this class: Blumenfeld and Raymond, pp. vii-64. Preface, Introduction, “A Discussion About Differences”, and CH. 1, “Socialization and Gender Roles”, Discuss interplay of gender roles and sexual orientation.

September 7, 2001: Sexuality, heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality. We will discuss the debate about the causes of sexual orientation, the “nature versus nurture” debate and the implications of that debate for GLBT civil rights and discrimination. Reading assignment for this class. Blumenfeld and Raymond, pp. 65-151. Katz, J., “The Invention of Heterosexuality” (on reserve).

September 11, 2001: Continuation of discussion on sexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality. Evelyn Hooker and the dismantling of “mental illness” theory of homosexuality. Richard Pillard, the studies of identical twins, and genetic theories of sexual orientation. Reading assignment for this class, Blumenfeld and Raymond, pp. 65-151. Journal due. Video about “Evenly Hooker”.

September 13, 2001: Bisexuality. Discussion of the Kinsey scale. Definitions of bisexuality, biphobia, polyamory. Movements to organize bisexual persons. Reading assignment for this class: Fox, R. (1995) “Bisexual Identities” in D’Augelli, A. & Patterson, C. (1995) Lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities over the lifespan: Psychological Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press. Pp. 49-85.

September 17, 2001: Sexual Orientation and Religion. Views of the divine; Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian heritage. Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Roman Catholic Church. Reading assignment for this class: Blumenfeld and Raymond, pp. 152-217. Jennings, pp. 39-51. Discussion: reconciling faith with sexual orientation and gender identity. Video, “Growing up Gay, Brian McNayert. Journal due. Selection of service-learning site or project due.

September 19, 2001: History of Lesbian and Gay Movement politics: Emergence of the scientific study of sex in the nineteenth century. The rise of psychiatry and psychology in the early twentieth century. The invention of homosexuality and heterosexuality. Reading assignment for this class: Blumenfeld and Raymond, pp. 272-290. Jennings. Pp. 103-116. Discussion of the construction of sexualities and sexual identities. The emergence of gay and lesbian communities in American cities. Topic selection for research paper due. Video: “Before Stonewall”.

September 21, 2001: World War II and the emergence of gay/lesbian political movements.
Reading assignment for this class: Blumenfeld and Raymond: pp. 291-319. Jennings, pp. 117-214. Video: “After Stonewall”.

September 25, 2001: Lesbian identities (butch and femme) and Lesbian feminism. Emergence of lesbian communities in working class cultures in the 1940s-1960s. The “Lavender Menace” and the women’s movement in the 1970s. Reading assignment for this class: Blumenfeld and Raymond, pp. 303-304. Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle. Journal due. Video: “Forbidden Lives”

September 27, 2001: Lesbian identities. Continuing discussion. Reading assignment for this class: Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle.

October 1,2001: Men and sex. Michael Kaufman on campus. Discussion with students at 4:00 p.m. Campus presentation: 7:45 p.m. in the Science Hall auditorium at SJU. Journal due.
Readings for the day will be taken from works by Michael Kaufman: Beyond Patriarchy: Essays by Men on Please, Power, and Change (1987); Cracking the Armour: Power, Pain and the Lives of Men (1993); and Community Power and Grass-Roots Democracy.

October 3, 2001: Gay male identities. Homophobia and masculinity. Impact of the AIDS epidemic. Readings for this class: to be assigned.

October 9, 2001: GLBT and disabled, poor, deaf. Myths about gay affluence. Readings for this class: to be assigned. Journal due.

October 11, 2001: National Coming Out Day. The class will participate in campus and St. Cloud community events for this day.

October 15, 2001: Sexual Orientation and racial identity: How race, class, gender identity and sexual orientation relate as links in a wheel of oppression and identity. Reading assignment for this class: Boykin, pp. xi-122. Journal due. Film, “Tongues Untied”.

October 17, 2001: Sexual Orientation and racial identity (continued). Discussion of faith, black homophobia, and gay racism: Reading assignment for this class: Boykin pp. 123-272. Film: “All God’s Children”. Literature Review due.

October 19, 2001: Sexual Orientation, racial identity, gender and age. Film: “Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis at 100”.

October 23, 2001. Sexual orientation and transgender identities. Discussion of “passing”, hidden identities, gender and sexual orientation diversity in native cultures. Reading assignments for this class: Jennings, pp. 64-83. Feinberg, pp. ix-89. Journal due.

October 25, 2001. Transgender movements in modern times. Sexual reassignment surgery. Stonewall and transgender activism. Invited guest speaker: Debra Davis. Reading assignments for this class. Feinberg, pp. 91-175.

October 29, 2001: GLBT youth. Understanding the “coming out” process. Risk and resiliency factors for young persons who discover their sexual orientation to be homosexual or bisexual or their gender identity to be transgender. Reading assignment for this class. Chandler, pp. xv-102. Journal due.

October 31, 2001: GLBT youth and schools. The hazards of being a GLBT student while attending school. Reading assignment for this class. Chandler, pp. 103-236.

November 2, 2001: GLBT curricula in K-8. Children of GLBT parents in school. Film: “It’s Elementary”. “Both of My Moms are Named Judy”. Reading assignment for this class. Chandler, pp. 237-344.

November 6, 2001: Election Day. GLBT issues and the elections. Organizing on campus. Preparation for the “Creating Change” conference. Journal due.

November 8, 2001: “Creating Change” conference. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

November 12, 2001: Discussion of “Creating Change” conference.

November 14, 2001: Parents of GLBT children and other allies. Speakers from Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and Eclipse. Readings for this class to be assigned. Journal due.

November 16, 2001: Rainbow families and Children of Gays and Lesbians Everywhere (COLAGE). What’s it like to grow up in a family with parents who are GLBT? Panels of parents and children. Film: “That’s a Family”. “Both of My Moms are Named Judy”.

November 20, 2001: Political organizing on GLBT issues. The Religious Right, ex-Gay movements, Soul Force, Outfront Minnesota. Readings for this class to be assigned.

November 27, 2001: On being or becoming old and gay. Ageism and the gay male community. Film: “Beauty Before Age”. Readings for this class to be assigned. Journal due.

November 29, 2001: On being or becoming old and lesbian. Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. Film: “Golden Threads”. Readings for this class to be assigned.

December 3, 2001: Social Services for old GLBT persons. SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment) and other programs. Readings for this class to be assigned. Journal due.

December 5, 2001: Presentation of student research and discussion. Final paper due (including the topic, literature review, description of the problem, applications for practice. Service-Learning hours completed. Service-Learning report due.

December 7, 2001: Visits to GLBT services and organizations in the Twin Cities.

December 11, 2001: Presentation of student research and discussion. Journal due.

December 13, 2001: Presentation of student research and discussion.