Spectrum Center launches intro LGBTQIA2S+ webcourse following pilot success

A person with a laptop sitting atop their legs.

October 25, 2023  |  By Nick Pfost

Spectrum Center broadly launched a free, one-hour web course for the University of Michigan community this fall to provide an overview of terms and topics related to gender, sexuality, and marginalization.

Students, faculty, and staff can register for and take Introduction to LGBTQIA2S+ Communities and Identities through Canvas. The broader offering follows a successful yearlong pilot.

Spectrum Center developed the course as a high-quality, accessible online replacement for its foundational vocabulary and concepts workshop. That allowed the center to expand its workshop offerings, including the creation of “Towards Solidarity: Allyship in Action,” in response to the changing needs of campus communities.

“This is such an important step in putting basic information, terminology and expert guidance at the community’s fingertips,” said Spectrum Center Director Jesse Beal. “It’s now a core co-curricular offering for us, and we’re excited to build on this foundation through our partnerships, in-person workshops, and consultations across campus.”

The course guides learners through an overview of terms and topics, with a focus on terms relevant to LGBTQIA2S+ communities. It also offers helpful guidance to disrupt misinformation.

Among the pilot program’s 477 participants:

  • 96% of respondents reported increasing their understanding of LGBTQIA2S+ vocabulary and terminology;
  • 94% of respondents said they felt more comfortable discussing LGBTQIA2S+ topics;
  • 94% and 92% of respondents reported that they increased their understanding of sexuality and gender, respectively; and
  • 89% of respondents said they felt more prepared to pursue more advanced LGBTQIA2S+ educational opportunities.

“I appreciated the sections where it asked participants to complicate the narrative,” one participant said. “As a queer person myself, it was nice to see these usually nuanced elements of queer identity and discourse brought up in accessible ways.”

Fifty-seven percent of participants in the pilot were faculty, staff or administrators, and the course is now being adopted into the professional development menus and curricula in several units. Of those participating, 70% identified themselves as straight, and 95% were either cisgender men or cisgender women. 

The future of the webcourse

Future plans include ongoing maintenance to the web course. Language related to identity is complicated, culturally bound and ever evolving. The center intends to regularly review and update terms, explanations and the contexts in which they’re given. Learn more about the course and get started at spectrumcenter.umich.edu/intro-identities-webcourse

This article was jointly published in The University Record. Photo by Gender Spectrum Collection (Vice).