Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Human Rights – 6862

Few areas of law have changed as quickly or as dramatically as those regulating the rights of members of the LGBTQ community. This is true in Minnesota, nationally, in foreign jurisdictions, and at the international level. These evolving debates span numerous areas of law, including criminal, asylum, family, employment, civil rights, and human rights. This course will critically review the history and broader context of these legal developments to ask: where should we go from here?

Through the lens of paradigmatic cases and events, we will examine local, national, and international advocacy approaches to a wide range of human rights issues affecting LGBTQ people: criminalization, violence, stigma, forced migration, marriage, family, housing, health, employment, and freedom of speech and association. The course will analyze how factors like race and class have shaped the LGBTQ rights movement in the US and beyond, with an emphasis on how laws and policies that appear neutral on their face can nevertheless have a disparate impact on members of the LGBTQ community.

Students will study primary and scholarly sources, supplemented by narrative and other artistic material. Through focused interactions with guest speakers, students will have the opportunity to learn from practitioners working on litigation, advocacy, and mobilization in Minnesota, the US, and abroad. Coursework consists of independent research projects informed by students’ interests. Students will finish the seminar with a better understanding of the relevant law and the choices and challenges faced by human rights advocates in a rapidly changing field.

Graduation Requirements
Upper Division Legal Writing
Subject Area
Human Rights *
Student Year
Upper Division
Grade base
A - F
Course type