Berkeley 'Bear Closet' course: Students share 'queer' experiences with middle schoolers for credit

A University of California, Berkeley course starting  September 19 will offer students the chance to share “queer-related stories” with local middle and high school students to encourage students who have not revealed their sexuality to pursue higher education.

Dubbed “Bear Closet,” the course “welcomes all students, whether LGBTQ, an ally, or just interested in learning.” The course, taught by a student but faculty-approved, is seeking enrollees who are looking for “sharing queer-related stories/ middle and high school classrooms, in hopes of motivating out or closeted youth to pursue college education with the assurance of a better future.”  

“Bear Closet” promises times allotted for discussions, as well as “bonding among its members” in order to instill values of community service. Students will complete 300-word narratives on three modules pertaining to “allyship,” Berkeley’s LGBTQ community, and fighting bullying.

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Course participants will be able to collaborate with the Pacific Center, a local Berkeley LGBT center, to hold a cumulative presentation as well as host lectures at local middle and high schools. 

“We hope to inspire youth to take pride in their own identity and fight for a stronger, more inclusive future,” Bear Closet’s mission states. 

The group did not respond to a request for comment from Campus Reform in time for publication. 

Campus Reform spoke with Berkeley College Republicans Chair Matt Ronnau about the course offering. 

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”The Berkeley College Republicans are concerned with the notion that left-wing students will be traveling to middle and high school classrooms to impose their social views on impressionable youth,” Ronnau said. “Furthermore, the people who would likely enroll in a class such as this one are likely the most radical of the student body here at Berkeley.”

Dan Mogulof, UC-Berkeley assistant vice chancellor of communications spoke of the DeCal program, in general, in a statement to Campus Reform, saying, “the campus administration has no connection to or control over these [course] offerings.”

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