A University of Michigan class that earlier prompted state lawmakers to consider a 10 percent budget penalty for the school and is taught by a homosexual professor openly endorsing the “uncompromising political militancy” of “lesbian and gay studies” is returning.
But so is the opposition.
The class at the tax-funded University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is called “How to be Gay: Male Homosexuality and Initiation,” and is taught by David Halperin.
It surfaced in 2000, returned the following year and again a couple years later. Now university officials have confirmed it is returning, and Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, said “it was and remains an outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars.”
“Each time it has been offered we have renewed our objections to it. The first time around the Michigan House of Representatives came with a few votes of cutting the university budget by 10 percent,” he said.
He said Halperin “makes no bones about it on the other side of the world, knowingly using tax dollars to promote the militant political agenda of homosexuality.”
Glenn was referring to Halperin’s writings on his activities as part of his work in Australia, where he spends part of each year.
There, Halperin has written, “The fact is that lesbian and gay studies simply is the academic wing of the lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender movement … no one in the field has ever (to my knowledge at least) contested this…”
“Let there be no mistake about it: lesbian and gay studies, as it is currently practiced in the U.S., expresses an uncompromising political militancy,” he wrote.
“We have lobbied universities and professional associations to adopt and enforce anti-discrimination policies, to recognise same-sex couples, to oppose the U.S. military’s anti-gay policy, to suspend professional activities in states that criminalize gay sex or limit access to abortion, and to intervene on behalf of human rights for lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men at the local and national levels,” he wrote in Australian Humanities Review.
“Just because you happen to be a gay man doesn’t mean that you don’t have to learn how to become one,” he writes in the University of Michigan course description. “Gay men do some of that learning on their own, but often we learn how to be gay from others, either because we look to them for instruction or because they simply tell us what they think we need to know, whether we ask for their advice or not.”
Further, he advises potential students, “the course itself will constitute an experiment in the very process of initiation that it hopes to understand.”
University officials posted a defense of the decision to allow the course on the university website, a tacit acknowledgment of its controversial nature.
“This course is not about encouraging people to become gay, but about how individuals in our society create meaning and beliefs about gay culture from literature and the arts,” explained Robert M. Owen, associate dean for undergraduate education. “The course also makes no assumptions about the sexual orientation of its students.”
“We are aware that much of the concern is with the title of the course and acknowledge that the interpretation of that title is very troubling for some people. The English Department … approved this course,” he said.
Provost Paul Courant boasted of the evolution of the school into one “of the finest public institutions of higher education in the world” and attributed that to “the free and open exchange of ideas.”
He said Halperin’s course “is similar to literature courses taught at many other universities in our state and across our country.”
Concerns over Halperin’s actions were raised even within the homosexual community. In an online forum for homosexuals, one wrote, “Having a course in initiating young people into the gay lifestyle? Isn’t that what Christian Fundementalists (sic) claim actually goes on in the gay community? Thank you Dr. Halperin for confirming their suspicions.”
Halperin also has written that, “I still find the possibility of an open, uncensored, honest, and sexually explicit gay male literature thrilling, and I expected my students to do the same…”
“Lesbian/gay studies necessarily straddles scholarship and politics …. It would be hard to be more explicit than that,” said Halperin, who is has written several homosexual-oriented books.
In the past, Glenn promised, “Every time U-M offers this ludicrous class, you and I cannot fail to speak out against it.”
Reports said in 2003, Halperin refused to meet Glenn’s offer for a face-to-face public debate on the merits of the class.