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College of Arts and Sciences

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Program

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Studies Certificate Program offered by the College of Arts and Sciences is interdisciplinary in its focus. The introductory LGBT course integrates concepts and methods of inquiry from a wide range of academic disciplines, including psychology, sociology, anthropology, women studies, philosophy, culture studies, history, political science, fine arts, and biology.  At the same time, advanced-level courses enable students from any IPFW college and unit to concentrate their study on LGBT issues within their own department, if they choose.

LGBT Studies is an academic discipline concerned with the formal investigation of individuals who are romantically or sexually attracted to those of the same sex (lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals), or whose gender identity is different from traditional conceptions of gender (transgender individuals).  The discipline is concerned with same-sex romantic and sexual relationships, and the lives of LGBT individuals in all regards.  A central concern is the well-being and health of LGBT individuals, including the capability of LGBT individuals to thrive in the context of cultural and societal forces that attempt to undermine the legitimacy of same-sex love, relationships, sexuality, and culture.

Why Study LGBT Issues?

Reasons that students may benefit from attaining the LGBT Certificate include:

Documenting for potential employers that one has knowledge, expertise, and dedication to diversity, in particular related to LGBT individuals greater familiarity with psychological, societal, and legal issues relevant to LGBT individuals for those interested in working with LGBT populations

Obtaining a better understanding of sexuality and sexual orientation in general,but also specific to LGBT individuals

Preparation for graduate study related to sexuality or LGBT studies

Careers Related to LGBT Issues

Many employers value employees with expertise in diversity issues specific to LGBT populations.  In fact, the non-profit organization, Out For Work, has presented conferences since 2005 focused on assisting LGBT students as they transition to the workplace. The most recent corporate partners of Out For Work include Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing, Nordstrom, BP, Capital One, Northrop Grumman, Marriott, Verizon, Merck, Cummins, and Toyota.  LGBT issues are a growing concern of major corporations and business.

Mental health and medical professionals are also increasingly required to develop expertise in LGBT issues; attaining the undergraduate LGBT Certificate may be viewed as the initial step in a career-long education process on LGBT issues advocated by the American Psychological Association (APA) for practicing psychologists.  In the APA report, Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients, a set of ethical principles is presented as the foundation for clinical practice based on an essential respect for, and understanding of, LGBT individuals.  The report cites scientific research that psychology graduate students and early career psychologists feel they have received inadequate education and training in lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) issues; consequently, they feel unprepared to work with these groups.  Furthermore, many veteran practicing psychologists have not received even basic information concerning LGB clients.  Graduate students, and psychologists who have recently received their credentials to provide therapy, increasingly report more positive attitudes toward LGB individuals.  Yet, research also indicates that, upon deeper examination, professionals may demonstrate less comfort with, and affirmation of, non-heterosexual orientations than they initially express.  Even a psychologist who identifies as lesbian, gay, or bisexual does not have automatic expertise in working with LGB clients.  APA guidelines call for professional training in LGBT issues not only in specific courses, but through information integrated throughout the entire curriculum, and in the continuing education of psychologists.  Although the APA guidelines are concerned with postgraduate education, the LGBT Certificate will provide an initial foundation for those interested in mental health and policy careers.