By Gudrun Schultz

TORONTO, Ontario, October 26, 2006 ( – University of Toronto students in the Sexual Diversity Studies program explore sadomasochism, bondage and domination as part of an “academic” approach to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues, Reuters reported October 20.

Described as “edgy,” the Sexual Diversity Studies program is one of the largest of its kind in North America. Students and teachers defend the program as a serious approach to sexual issues.

“It’s not sexy sex sex, where we’re talking about whips and chains, but we will talk about whips and chains,” graduating student Robbie Morgan told Reuters. “We’ll talk about whips and chains in a political, social, cultural, religious context of sexuality and how that sexuality affects those institutions.”

Program director David Rayside told Reuters the content emphasis is often misunderstood.

“It’s a very serious analytical exercise and it isn’t what a lot of people think it is.”

Program courses include an arts and literature course called “Queerly Canadian,” and a drama class called “Sexual Performance: Case Studies in S/M (sadomasochism).”

“Visiting lecturers will address technical aspects of flogging, restraint, and role-play,” the University’s website course description explains. “Students will ‘research’ questions (e.g. what constitutes coercion? Consent? Control? Submission? Can sexual practices transform our understanding of power?) by the optional performance of selected scenes.”

“Queerly Canadian” asks students to look at how a “queer” perspective of identity could contribute to an “alternative national politics.”

Other courses include “Theories of Sexuality” and “Sexual Diversity Politics.” Created in 1998, the program offers both Major and Minor disciplines and is hoping to establish a Masters program within the next few years.

Sexual “diversity” has become an increasingly central emphasis of the University of Toronto’s social policy over the past decade. In 2003, then-president Robert Birgeneau wrote in the Toronto Star that the University had made “great progress” in ensuring the comfort level of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or queer” students.

“If anything is needed now, it is to move beyond the institutional level of acceptance to broad awareness and to celebrate sexual diversity on our campuses,” Birgeneau wrote, “in much the same way that we celebrate our remarkable ethnic and cultural diversity.”

The Sexual Diversity program received a $1 million ($900,000) donation last week from Canadian winemaker Mark Bonham to expand the curriculum, Reuters reported.

To express concerns:

Contact University of Toronto President David Naylor
[email protected]

See related LifeSiteNews coverage:

U of Toronto President Hails Sexual ‘Diversity’