‘How to be Gay’ course draws fire at Michigan

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Mr. Halperin wrote that “lesbian and gay studies scholars” were leaders in lobbying universities and governments “to adopt and enforce anti-discrimination policies, to recognize 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.”

Robert M. Owen, the university’s associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, defends Mr. Halperin’s course.

“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,” Mr. Owen said in a prepared statement. Such a course helps students who plan to enter careers in law, social work or other fields where they will “encounter a large and very diverse clientele.”

Mr. Owen said public criticism of Mr. Halperin’s class stems largely from “the title of the course,” and said, “The interpretation of that title is very troubling for some people.”

The course is part of the university’s “genuine search for intellectually interesting and sometimes provocative subject matters,” the associate dean said. “The historic freedom granted to pursue this search is one of the hallmarks of higher education.”

University officials have been “inundated” with AFA-distributed postcards objecting to the course, says university spokeswoman Julie Peterson. But she does not expect the postcards to affect the university’s support for Mr. Halperin.

“He is a very popular professor,” Ms. Peterson says, “and there is always a long waiting list for his courses. The list gets longer when stories like this happen.”

Mr. Glenn argues that such a statement by a university official “mocks and even taunts Michigan taxpayers, reveling that the more taxpayers dare protest the use of their tax dollars to teach kids ‘How to be Gay,’ the more students will enroll in the class.

“Such arrogant dismissiveness toward taxpayers’ legitimate concerns is all the more reason Michigan lawmakers should exact a greater degree of public accountability from UM officials.”

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