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August 24, 2007

Syllabus for LGBTI issues course

I will teach a course on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/intersex legal issues starting on Monday, August 27 at Emory Law School.  Here is a PDF copy of the syllabus: Download schedule.pdf .  Please let me know if you have comments or suggestions.

I do not use a casebook.  I don't like casebooks (although I'd be happy to write one on this topic ;-)).  I think requiring students to get cases and articles themselves via the various databases they have available reinforces the point that research is an essential part of practicing law. 

I have two other reasons for this decision.  I hope to be as current as possible in this course.  This area of the law is changing rapidly, so it's essential to use the most recent cases.  Also, since Emory is in the San Francisco of the 11th Circuit, I try to focus on cases from the 11th Circuit (which is a bit hard to do just because, unlike the circuit where the original San Francisco resides, some important issues for LGBTI persons have not arisen yet in the 11th Circuit). 

I have at least three practitioners scheduled as guest speakers.  I think this is essential because outcomes for LGBTI clients, even more than most, can depend on the care and knowledge of the attorney, and can vary widely from county to county, even from judge to judge. 

As the schedule indicates, this course is a seminar, which has a specific meaning at Emory Law.  The primary assignment is a writing project of at least 30 pages, which the students can count toward a graduation requirement. 


August 24, 2007 in Other | Permalink


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Sounds like an *awesome* course/seminar. I took a *very* similar course at the University of Michigan (taught by an amazing woman -- http://cgi2.www.law.umich.edu/_FacultyBioPage/facultybiopagenew.asp?ID=332 -- whom I think you should try to solicit to join your blog). She also did not use a casebook but made it up as we went along. I learned a great deal from that course (looking over your syllabus was like looking at an old friend).

If you don't mind my impertinence, I would offer only one suggestion in either your employment cases or your transgender cases -- that of Smith v. City of Salem, OH. Even though that's a 6th Circuit case I think it's amazingly instructive and possibly holds some clues about the trend of law that might be useful to those practicing in the 11th (or others). It is also useful to know that a key paragraph was deleted from the court's opinion once a threat to appeal it en banc was made. That paragraph read:

"Even if Smith had alleged discrimination based only on his self-identification as a transsexual – as opposed to his specific appearance and behavior – this claim too is actionable pursuant to Title VII. By definition, transsexuals are individuals who fail to conform to stereotypes about how those assigned a particular sex at birth should act, dress, and self-identify. Ergo, identification as a transsexual is the statement or admission that one wishes to be the opposite sex or does not relate to one’s birth sex. Such an admission – for instance the admission by a man that he self-identifies as a woman and/or that he wishes to be a woman – itself violates the prevalent sex stereotype that a man should perceive himself as a man. Discrimination based on transsexualism is rooted in the insistence that sex (organs) and gender (social classification of a person as belonging to one sex or the other) coincide. This is the very essence of sex stereotyping."

Posted by: Denise | Aug 25, 2007 4:39:42 AM

Perhaps add Chauncey's "Why Marriage" book (or an excerpt) and/or Marc Spindelman's "Homosexuality's Horizon" (54 Emory Law Journal 1361) to the Marriage section?

Also, Koppelman's "Why Discrimination Against Lesbians and Gay Men is Sex Discrimination" (69 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 197) and Sylvia Law's "Homosexuality and the Social Meaning of Gender (1988 Wis. L. Rev. 187) would fill a gap in the syllabus to help students understand the theoretical relation of sex and gender to sexuality.

Posted by: Anon Law Student | Aug 27, 2007 12:13:55 PM

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