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Future JD Students

LGBT Survey Results: University of Southern California, Gould School of Law

Nondiscrimination Policy

USC Gould is firmly committed to a policy against discrimination based upon ethnicity, national origin, disability, race, religion, political beliefs, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, or age.

LGBT Student Organization(s)

USC Gould supports dozens of groups for students, including OUTLaw, which promotes the interests of LGBT students on campus and throughout the greater legal community. USC Gould OUTLaw launched the first student-run endowed scholarship in the nation to support the enrollment of LGBT law students and/or allies.

For more information, contact OUTLaw’s faculty advisor:

David Cruz

LGBT Faculty

David Cruz

Paul Moorman

LGBT Administrator(s)


LGBT Course(s)

Identity Categories (Offered yearly)

What makes a person female, or heterosexual, or black? Do the answers depend on the reasons for asking? Drawing on feminist legal theory, critical race theory, and lesbian/gay/bisexual and queer theory, this seminar will address such questions, exploring the treatment of definitions of personal identity in United States law. We will begin with an introduction to this critical legal scholarship, its methodologies, and possible meanings of various identity categories, with a primary emphasis on sex, gender, sexual orientation, and race. We will then examine legal doctrines from areas such as the military; adoption; antidiscrimination, affirmative action, and equal protection; and the census. Recurrently throughout the semester, we will discuss themes including social hierarchy and equality; the utility and limits of analogies between various identity categories; biology, immutability, essentialism, and social constructionism; intersectionality (or the way in which a person’s identity categories overlap and interact) and how the law does or does not deal with such complexity; and the inadequacy of binary identity categorization schemes.

Sexual Orientation and the Law (Offered most years)

This course will explore the ways in which American law has responded to the diversity that exists within human sexual orientation. The course will begin by analyzing the multiple meanings and dimensions of sexual orientation and then will examine the connections between issues of sexual orientation and gender, sexual orientation and minority status, and sexual orientation and human sexuality generally. The course will focus on statutory and case law developments arising under four areas of civil rights law:

  • liberty, including both challenges to sodomy and lewd conduct laws and enactment of protections against hate crimes;
  • equality, examining constitutional and statutory protections against discrimination in public and private employment, public accommodations, and the political process;
  • expression, including First Amendment rights of public employees, students, and the media, as well as the sometimes conflicting rights of privacy, religious freedom, and freedom from harassment; and
  • family, including issues surrounding marriage, rights and responsibilities of unmarried partners, and parenting.

This course also will consider recent developments in the emerging field of lesbian and gay civil rights. Students will be expected to draft and then revise a substantive research paper addressing a topic of their choice in the area of sexual orientation and the law.

Stereotypes, Prejudice, and the Rule of the Law (Offered most years)

This course examines the role of bias in the American justice system and the impact of stereotypes and prejudice on the adjudication of just desserts. Using a combination of literary and academic texts, as well as several multimedia platforms, this course explores how social identity figures into the formulation and application of the substantive criminal law.

This course will draw extensively on cases and materials covered in the first-year criminal law course. Additionally, we will critically evaluate current events, including the Treyvon Martin shooting and the 2012 Los Angeles District Attorney race. In addressing the role of bias in the American justice system, this course will draw on a variety of recent works in jurisprudence, moral philosophy, political science, cognitive psychology, linguistics, and cognitive science.

Sex, Gender, and the Law (Offered most years)

This seminar will explore questions of the law’s response to questions of sex discrimination and gender identity and expression, with an emphasis upon legal issues facing transgender and intersex persons. Employment discrimination (including Title VII), marriage eligibility, birth certificates, incarceration, and identity documents will provide some of the factual setting in which these issues will be engaged. Topics to be discussed include legal efforts to define and distinguish sex, gender, sexuality, sexual acts, gender identities and expressions, and sexual identities (“homosexuality,” “heterosexuality,” and “bisexuality”); sex, gender, and the criminal justice system; law, gender, sexuality, and violence; and gender identity, sexuality, and the legal construction of the body. There will be a required textbook, as well as some course materials which will be made available through Blackboard and/or the copy center. Students will write questions for discussion each week as well as a 20-page research paper on a topic pertaining to the seminar (worked out with the professor, with intermediate steps, including a prospectus and first draft, required). Course participation will be included in each student’s evaluation. There will be no final examination. The course may be taken CR/D/F. Any student satisfactorily passing the class (with a grade higher than a D) will satisfy the upper division writing requirement (the form must be completed, along with the professor’s signature). This seminar may be taken by students writing notes, which may be on any topic relating to sex, gender, and law, though intersex and transgender legal topics are encouraged. Students writing their notes in conjunction with the seminar will write several brief discussion papers concerning some of the readings.

Domestic-Partner or Same-Sex Marriage Benefits

Benefits-eligible faculty and staff employees who have a registered domestic partner are eligible for USC benefits.

Additional Information

Los Angeles embraces diversity, and that extends to sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, the University of Southern California has one of the most LGBT-friendly campuses in the country. The USC Office of Student Affairs has a fully staffed LGBT resource center and designated LGBT housing.

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