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Law Courses Catalog

Law of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

  • Typically offered every other year

NOTE: This course description is new for the 2016-2017 academic year. You may read the prior course description immediately below this new one. 

2016-2017

This seminar course will consider sexual orientation and gender identity within a historical and evolving context of the law. We will begin by exploring the historical evolution of the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians, tracking doctrines of privacy and equality from early rights assertions to today. We will then explore ongoing legal battles over religious free exercise and nondiscrimination laws, the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming people, and family law questions (including parentage, adoption, divorce, and legal alternatives to marriage) in an age of nontraditional familial relationships.

Readings and Preparation: Readings will average about 40-50 pages per week. Students will be expected to have read the assigned readings and come to class prepared to discuss and critically analyze what they have read. Class participation will constitute 20 percent of the grade.

Short Paper: In the middle of the term, students will be required to write one ten-page paper that will draw from and critically analyze the class readings. In addition to being evaluated on content, students will receive feedback on writing skills in satisfaction of the “writing intensive experience” requirement. This midterm paper will constitute 30 percent of the grade for the course.

Final Assignment: At the end of the term, students will be required to write a final substantive research paper of 20 pages and present their paper to the class. This final paper and presentation will constitute 50 percent of the grade for the course.

NOTE: The below course description applied prior to the 2016-2017 academic year.

NOTE: This course is offered on SATURDAYS from 9am to 12:50pm over the first seven weeks of the Fall semester, except for the first Saturday, Sept. 6th, when it will meet from 9am-11am.

This seminar course will consider sexual orientation and gender identity within a historical and evolving context of the law. We will begin with a historical survey of legal developments relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. We will then move to the modern “gay rights movement.” We will look at the recent cases that have so dramatically changed the legal landscape for LGBT people and discuss the political and social transformation now taking place. We will end with a practical look at representing LGBT clients in this age of flux.

Readings and Preparation: Readings will average about 40-50 pages per week. Students are expected to have read the assigned readings and come to class prepared to discuss what they have read. Class participation will constitute 30 percent of the grade.

Short Papers: Students will be required to write three two-page papers based on the reading material. The points on the short papers will be averaged and will constitute 15 percent of the grade.

Final Assignment: Students must either draft a final substantive research paper of between 10 and 12 pages or put on a 15-minute presentation. This final paper or presentation will constitute 55 percent of the grade for the course.