Did you know that DePaul University is the nations largest Catholic University? For some reason, I did not know that. It sits just 3 hours away from good ole Barcelona, USA up in Chicagoland. I've known and worked with a handful of people who have studied there and they all have had very good things to say about the University. In one of the major news magazinges this week in the first few pages there was a story on DePaul being the first Catholic University to offer a minor in Queer Studies. (The official name of the minor is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies.) I searched around a little bit this morning and saw that you can find the Chicago Tribune article on the subject here.
To quote the article...
The study of the gay community, commonly known as LGBTQ Studies, has increasingly become part of university curricula during the last decade. DePaul has offered several classes through different departments in the last few years, so packaging them together to create a minor made sense, Cestaro said. Students will learn how gay issues are addressed in the fields of history, literature, religion, political science and psychology.
The minor requires that students take an introductory course and five electives, which can include courses in queer theory, history of sexuality in America, queer pioneers and gay and lesbian literature. The nursing department is planning a course on lesbian health, while the religious studies department will offer The Body and Human Relationships: Divergent Meanings, Conflicting Values, which will include discussion on the ethical implications of gay relationships.
Of course, there are those in the Catholic and faith based community that are against this. They believe that offering a monor would validate homosexuality as a lifestyle which is against the teachings of the Catholic Church. Anyone who has followed any reaction of the Catholic Church/Community to the Gay Community could have expected that. The way, I see it, it's overreaction, of course. At what point is offering a course on Lesbian Health an endorsement of a lifestyle? Wouldn't it be more noble to learn of different health issues a community faces, and be prepared to serve that community where they are? Wouldn't that be walking a life of Christ more than turning your back and walking away for fear of endorsement?
DePaul will continue to get flack for this. I am interested to how Cardinals and leaders of the Catholic Church around Chicagoland react to this in the upcoming months now that it has become national news. I wouldn't even be suprised to see the Vatican weigh in on it. But I think the director of the program, Gary Cestaro, seems to have the correct answer for any questions....
"Institutions of higher learning, Catholic or not, are about open investigation and free inquiry. DePaul particularly has a strong identity that involves commitment to social justice and to the urban community. At least from that perspective, LGBT studies make a lot of sense here."