Students at Bowie State University now have the opportunity to explore “how vital queer individuals have been to the progress of the nation” in a new course on queer studies.

The university broke grounds as the first historically black college or university (HBCU) to offer a course in queer studies, says Matthew Lynch at Education Week.

According to Wikipedia, Queer studies, sexual diversity studies, or LGBT studies is defined as “the study of issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity usually focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and intersex people and cultures.”

Last year, the university offered a pilot course that saw several students signing up to explore and study the new branch, “The course was offered as a trial last spring and saw 26 students sign up,” writes Lynch. “Because of its success, the course will now have a full offering for the upcoming Fall and Spring Semesters.”

The class is designed to give students a better understanding of queer history, which intersects on issues of race, religion, media, film, and more.

Perhaps what’s most important is that the class will teach, through a historic and academic lens, how vital queer individuals have been to the progress of the nation.

In addition, Bowie State was also recently recognized by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for its efforts of inclusion. The HRC provides an “outreach program that gives HBCU students an opportunity to make changes on their campuses so that students who identify as LGBTQ will have better experiences.”

“We need to ensure that LGBTQ people’s lives are studied, understood and represented across all educational levels,” writes Kevin Nadal, the Executive Director of CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies –the oldest university-based LGBTQ research center in the U.S. “When we don’t learn about queer or trans people in our Social Studies, History, or English classes, we inadvertently learn that they don’t exist and that they have not shaped the world to be what it is.”

“If Queer and Trans Studies can help LGBTQ people to live ordinary and extraordinary lives, why wouldn’t we integrate them into every educational institution across the world?”

Read more here.