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(Dis)course is a semester-long ongoing dialogue to discuss relevant issues of gender in society, while bringing to the forefront the work and teachings of VT faculty members. By engaging with both traditional texts, as well as contemporary text, such as film, new media, etc., curated by our faculty partners, we are creating a modern day virtual book club and discussion series that fosters community, is intentionally intersectional, and contributes to and engages with gendered issues.

Discussion groups will take place via Zoom every other week, with at least two opportunities to engage during each discussion week. Sign up below for the topic, date, and discussion session you would like to participate in.

This program has been developed in partnership with faculty including Dr. Andrea Baldwin, Dr. Bonnie Zare, Dr. Katalin Parti, and Cheryl Montgomery as well as other campus and community partners including Dr. Bing and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, Dalayna Gardner and the Ujima LLC, and Andrae Hash with VA Organizing.

group of students sitting around a table talking

Schedule of Events

Topic Time Slots Register
Disclosure 9/9/2020 3:30pm  Sign-up
  9/10/2020 9:30am Sign-up
Invisible No More - Chapters 1, 2, and 3 9/23/2020 3:30pm Sign-up
  9/24/2020 9:30am Sign-up
Zero Tolerance 10/7/2020 3:30pm Sign-up
  10/8/2020 9:30am Sign-up
Invisible No More - Chapters 4, 5, and 6 10/21/2020 3:30pm Sign-up
  10/22/2020 9:30am Sign-up
Out in the Night 11/4/2020 3:30pm Sign-up
  11/5/2020 9:30am Sign-up
Invisible No More - Chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10 11/18/2020 3:30pm Sign-up
  11/19/2020 9:30am Sign-up

Disclosure is an unprecedented, eye-opening look at transgender depictions in film and television, revealing how Hollywood simultaneously reflects and manufactures our deepest anxieties about gender. Leading trans thinkers and creatives, including Laverne Cox, Lilly Wachowski, Yance Ford, Mj Rodriguez, Jamie Clayton, and Chaz Bono, share their reactions and resistance to some of Hollywood’s most beloved moments. Grappling with films like A Florida Enchantment (1914), Dog Day Afternoon, The Crying Game, and Boys Don’t Cry, and with shows like The Jeffersons, The L-Word, and Pose, they trace a history that is at once dehumanizing, yet also evolving, complex, and sometimes humorous. What emerges is a fascinating story of dynamic interplay between trans representation on screen, society’s beliefs, and the reality of trans lives. Reframing familiar scenes and iconic characters in a new light, director Sam Feder invites viewers to confront unexamined assumptions, and shows how what once captured the American imagination now elicit new feelings. Disclosure provokes a startling revolution in how we see and understand trans people.

Watch on Netflix.

Viewer Guide

Invisible No More is a timely examination of how Black women, Indigenous women, and women of color experience racial profiling, police brutality, and immigration enforcement. Placing stories of individual women—such as Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Dajerria Becton, Monica Jones, and Mya Hall—in the broader context of the twin epidemics of police violence and mass incarceration, it documents the evolution of movements centering women’s experiences of policing and demands a radical rethinking of our visions of safety—and the means we devote to achieving it.

Read for free with the Kindle app on any digital device. 

Invisible No More describes many instances and forms of verbal abuse and physical and sexual violence against women, girls, trans, and gender nonconforming people of color by law enforcement agents. Because some descriptions are graphic, it can be very hard to read. It can also feel overwhelming, and sometimes trigger readers who have had similar experiences. The  Invisible No More Study and Discussion Guide provides some suggestions for exercising self care, and engaging in community care, while reading and discussing the book. We strongly encourage our participants to review the self-care section before diving into the book. 

While we hope to have meaningful and relatable conversation, our bi-weekly discussions are not a space where we can provide therapy, legal counsel, or specific advice for meeting your unique needs around bias, violence or, trauma. To report a bias incident, please contact the Dean of Students office at 540-231-3787 or use the reporting form found at If you are in need of identity based support, connect with the Cultural and Community Centers at or 540-231-8584. If you have questions, concerns, or needs related to your mental health and well being, please contact Cook Counseling at 540-231-6557 for more information. You can also make an appointment for Advocacy at the Women’s Center via email to or contacting our office M-F 8-5 at 540-231-7806.


Reader Guide

The Invisible No More Study and Discussion Guide was developed using a collaborative design process shepherded by And Also Too, a collaborative design studio that works with social justice visionaries and uses community-centered design processes to make beautiful, powerful things. And Also Too believes that people are experts in their own experiences, and that everyone has the ability to participate in creative processes. They draw inspiration from the community’s culture and history to co-create resources and tools that are unique, accessible, and delightful.

In a misguided attempt to avoid another Columbine, in ‘zero tolerance’ states like Texas, Florida and California, police forces armed with guns and pepper spray have been patrolling hallways, monitoring playground activity and enforcing classroom discipline. As a result, each year hundreds of thousands of school-age children have been arrested, fined or incarcerated for ‘offences’ such as chewing gum, being late for class or talking back to a teacher. Many are absorbed into the criminal justice system, their records forever tarnished, their future prospects forever diminished. Critics claim that the school cops go too far, that instead of dealing only with genuine criminal behaviour, they have criminalised normal childlike behaviour in a cynical money-making move. Have American schools become a pipeline to prison?

Watch here for free on YouTube.

Discussions around this documentary cover a range of topics, such as violence, police brutality, school shootings, and others. While we hope to have meaningful and relatable conversation, our bi-weekly discussions are not a space where we can provide therapy, legal counsel, or specific advice for meeting your unique needs around bias, violence or, trauma.  To report a bias incident, please contact the Dean of Students office at 540-231-3787 or use the reporting form found at If you are in need of identity based support, connect with the Cultural and Community Centers at or 540-231-8584. If you have questions, concerns, or needs related to your mental health and well being, please contact Cook Counseling at 540-231-6557 for more information. You can also make an appointment for Advocacy at the Women’s Center via email to or contacting our office M-F 8-5 at 540-231-7806.

Out in the Night is a documentary that tells the story of a group of young friends, African American lesbians who are out, one hot August night in 2006, in the gay friendly neighborhood of New York City. They are all in their late teens and early twenties and come from a low-income neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey. Two of the women are the focus – gender non-conforming Renata Hill, a single mother with a soft heart and keen sense of humor, and petite femme Patreese Johnson, a shy and tender poet.

As they and their friends walk under the hot neon lights of tattoo parlors in the West Village, an older man sexually and violently confronts them. He says to Patreese “let me get some of that” as he points below her waist. When she says that they are gay, the man becomes violent and threatens to “fuck them straight”. He spits and throws a lit cigarette. Renata and Venice defend the group and a fight begins, captured by security cameras nearby. The man yanks out hair from Venice’s head and chokes Renata. Then, Patreese pulls a knife from her purse and swings at him. Strangers jump in to defend the women and the fight escalates. As the fight comes to an end, all get up and walk away. But 911 has been called and the man involved has a puncture wound from the knife. Police swarm to the scene as their radios blast out warning of a gang attack. The women are rounded up and charged with gang assault, assault and attempted murder.

Three of the women plead guilty. But Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain claim their innocence. They are called a “Gang of Killer Lesbians” by the media. In activist circles they become known as The New Jersey 4 (NJ4).

Through the lives of these four young women, Out in the Night reveals how their race, gender identity and sexuality became criminalized in the mainstream news media and criminal legal system.

Watch for free on Kanopy through Virginia Tech Libraries. 

Ujima is an essential concept in African philosophy and is also the third principle of Kwanzaa. It means collective work and responsibility. This new living-learning community places a special emphasis on understanding the unique experiences of African-Americans in society, including their experiences in college. Located in Peddrew-Yates Hall, Ujima is open to students of all backgrounds who are interested in understanding, supporting, and learning about #BlackExcellence.

Learn more.

VirTual Safe Zone is an online 5-week intensive course with weekly readings, writings, and a live discussion lab. The curriculum is meant to assist with the development of content knowledge.

  • The course curriculum delivers basic information to begin your development of content knowledge.
  • The readings are meant to help deepen your scope of the topic.
  • The discussion board reflective writings provide the opportunity to explore your thoughts, feelings, and questions.
  • The live discussions engage you in conversation with one another and allow for questions to be proffered to the group.

The next 5 week training session starts on October 19th and runs through November 20th. Learn more about VirTual Safe Zone and register for the Fall 3 session here

This course provides students with a foundational understanding of key questions, issues and debates regarding the African American experience and the field of African American Studies. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach (e.g., sociology, Africana Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, anthropology, and philosophy), students will explore how race as a social construct intersects with other identities including gender, ability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, etc., and how these have been institutionalized to produce very specific outcomes for African Americans over time.

Students taking this course will examine how African Americans have historically responded to institutionalized discrimination and marginalization (e.g. enslavement and Jim Crow). They will engage with the distinctive experiences of African Americans through an analysis of cultural phenomena such as music, dance, and literature (including afro-futurist & surrealist works); institutions such as religion, and the family; community, educational and economic organization; and political movements for racial and social justice.

The course begins with a broad overview of the meaning and definition of race in the United States, linking this to an understanding of institutionalized global capitalism. Students will also explore transnational and diasporic linkages to others of African descent, with particular reference to the Caribbean and Latin America. Also paramount to this course is understanding the concept and practice of self-care as important to Black survival and Black liberation. 

This course taught by Dr. Katalin Parti is an introduction to the study of the crime from the sociological perspective. The course will be an examination of sources of crime, society’s reaction to crime, and the criminal justice system. The course is organized around the three main agents that comprise the criminal justice system: policing & prosecution, courts/law, and corrections, and the three main structural concerns to sociologists: race, class, and gender. The course will provide an in-depth understanding of crime and victimization, news media and public opinion and their influence on lawmaking, the classical, neoclassical, biological, social explanations of crime, the social process, and the critical perspectives of crime. Special topics such as violent crime, crimes against women, juvenile delinquency, property crime, fraud, and consensual crime will be visited. We will explain policing and the dilemmas of crime control in a democratic society as well as the aspects of prosecution and punishment and the implications on crime. The course goals focus on critical thinking and evaluation of the common practices utilized within the crime prevention and justice system.

Learn more.

In this course taught by Dr. Katalin Parti, we examine the complex relationship between educational institutions and the juvenile justice system. Readers learn about factors that contribute to juvenile delinquency, how schools can prevent and manage juvenile delinquency, and how individuals can leverage resources other than police or justice systems in response to behavioral concerns. Each week we examine a specific topic and demonstrate how the topic intersects with school systems and juvenile justice systems. We will explore poverty and its impact on school readiness; the school-to-prison pipeline; racial and gender disproportionality in school discipline practices; and police presence in schools. Students will learn about the juvenile justice system, the concept of peer mediation in reducing conflicts, strategies for reducing school violence, and anti-bullying programs.

Learn more. 

Dr. Bonnie Zare's course examines feminist theoretical texts and engages with social issues and creative work from an array of feminist theoretical perspectives. You will feel greater confidence about key terms and concepts that have shaped the study of gender. 
The class will

  • familiarize students with the depth, breadth and variety of feminist theories as the result of the cultural and historical contexts in which they emerged
  • enable students to separate different theoretical ideas and analyze how they complement or contradict each other
  • consider how a feminist theory used as a framework may create a new emphasis within a social or political issue taken for granted as meaning something else by mainstream discourse

Virginia Organizing is a non-partisan statewide grassroots organization dedicated to challenging injustice by empowering people in local communities to address issues that affect the quality of their lives. Virginia Organizing especially encourages the participation of those who have traditionally had little or no voice in our society. By building relationships with individuals and groups throughout the state, Virginia Organizing strives to get them to work together, democratically and non-violently, for change.

Learn more and get connected to the New River Valley chapter.