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Law and Sexuality

This seminar will focus on how the law regulates sexuality. We will approach the material as an exercise in advanced constitutional law, exploring how courts have used--or might use--federal or state constitutional provisions to address issues regarding a wide array of issues involving sexuality. The core of the class will relate to contemporary controversies concerning sexual orientation and gender identity (including, for example, regulation of sexual conduct, defining sexual identity, the Boy Scouts' policy, marriage and parenting rights of same-sex couples, among others). But we will also discuss other issues, including controversies about sex education and polygamy. We will maintain an interdisciplinary focus throughout as we consider how social, cultural, and political forces shape, and are shaped by, legal doctrine. Special attention will be paid to the unfolding debate on same-sex marriage as a case study in the contested role of courts as engines of social change. All students taking the seminar for 2 credits will write a final research paper of approximately 18 pages (for R credit). Students who wish to write a longer R paper (approx. 26 pages) may enroll in the seminar for 3 credits. Elements used in grading: Class participation and final paper.

Instructors for this course (Past and Present)

Jane S. Schacter