PLA4886-21Fall 0W61

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Department of Legal Studies
College of Community Innovation and Education
University of Central Florida
Fall 2021

Instructor Contact

Picture of Maria Beckman

Course Information

  • Course Name: Gender and Sexuality and the Law
  • Course ID & Section: PLA 4886-21Fall0W61
  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Semester/Year: Fall 2021
  • Email Communication with Instructor:  PLEASE USE THIS EMAIL ADDRESS:  

Course Description

This course examines U.S Constitutional Law and Statutory Law concerning sex, gender identity and sexuality with an emphasis on the Right to Privacy (contraception, abortion, and sodomy), the guarantee of equal treatment under the law, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation - based discriminations in various contexts (eg. in U.S. military, employment, marriage, education, and other public policy areas). We will also examine the conflict between the right to religious freedom vs sex, gender identity, and sexuality equality.

Course Objectives

  • Understand the historical role of the U.S. federal and state governments in regulating its own actions and the actions of others based on sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
  • Understand the Constitutional and other legal rules that govern these actions, how these rules developed and changed, and how the rules are applied.
  • Research and report on sex, gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination in other countries.

Please understand that we will be discussing concepts and viewing material that might trigger severe emotions due to past trauma or strong personal beliefs, such as “rape,” “abortion,” and “sodomy.” Because use of these terms and discussions of these concepts are unavoidable, if you believe that hearing them will be too painful for you, please reconsider whether to take this course.

NO Required Texts

There is no textbook for this course.  Instead, I will provide readings and multi-media material within each module. 

Course Modality

It is important to note that this class is being delivered via the online/web-based modality ONLY.  This is a fully online course.  This means that the work in the course will be independent academic work conducted via UCF’s on-line Webcourses platform.  The “on-line” classes will consist of a combination of uploaded materials which will vary by week and module, assigned on-line readings, assigned (and uploaded) power point slides that students are required to review, and short documentaries and/or other supplemental media materials.  There will be one online module for each week of the semester—fifteen weekly modules in all.  Each module represents a week’s worth of materials.  In a traditional “face-to-face” class, one would spend 3 hours per week physically attending the class.  Additionally, again, in a “face-to-face” class, one would be required to spend anywhere in the range of 3-6 hours per week completing the weekly reading assignments.  Thus, with this on-line class, you should expect to spend about the same amount of time each week as you would as a “face-to-face” class (namely, between 6-9 hours per week).  The only difference is that all your time will be spent in reading the text and reviewing materials provided to you via the on-line platform.    

Webcourses and “Web-based/Online” Designation  As a 100% “online” and “web-based” class, your ability to access and utilize Webcourses is indispensable AND essential to your success in this class.  We do not have individual classes in this course.  Rather, each week you should complete one on-line module (see class schedule listed below) wherein you will watch lectures and recordings uploaded to Webcourses, review PowerPoint slides uploaded to Webcourses, et cetera.  Your exams in this class and all other course requirements will also be completed via Webcourses.  Of course, I will use webcourse/canvass resources to aid in communication and to disseminate materials and assignments throughout the course.  Therefore, it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with how to use the Webcourses platform successfully.  If you have any questions about Webcourses and wish to familiarize yourself how to navigate the course materials on-line, students are advised to visit the UCF Center for Distributed Learning (CDL) website.  The CDL website offers a variety of “how to” tutorials to ensure you are getting the most out of your on-line learning experience.

Difference Between Online/Web-based Course and Other Remote Learning Modalities   

An online/web-based course is one wherein academic resources and information are provided for you each week and you can work through the materials at your own pace and time (within the given week).  The university's fancy way of saying this is that this class material will be delivered asynchronous.  This means that there are no Zoom classes/lectures you must attend remotely at a set time, neither are there recorded Zoom lectures recorded at a certain time that you watch during the week  (UCF calls this "synchronous content delivery using Zoom").  This is only supposed to be done as a substitute for those mixed mode/blended classes and those face-to-face classes which are being delivered remotely.

Because of the pandemic, the university moved most traditional face-to-face classes into a remote learning type environment.  That means that you still have class as scheduled with that professor and for that class--but instead of physically showing up to a classroom, you sign into the class via Zoom and participate in the class remotely just as you would if you showed up to the classroom.  Some faculty and administrators (and UCF) are referring to this as synchronous classes.  Please DO NOT confuse those synchronous classes with this course.  This is an online/web-based course.  Weekly hour-long class lectures are not delivered or recorded.  I repeat--this is not a remote learning synchronous class that has been substituted for a previously scheduled face-to-face or mixed mode class.  There will be no scheduled Zoom conducted classes, group meetings or the like.  This is a web based/online class, no different than any other online class you might have taken at UCF in the last 5-10 years.  You will be provided ample academic materials each week and it is your responsibility to work through these materials each week (including reading from the assigned textbook). 

If you have questions on this, now is the time to e-mail me and ask!  You will not have scheduled zoom lectures or meetings, nor recorded zoom lectures which mirror the face-to-face classroom experience.  If you want that environment, you should switch classes now.  This again a web-based class wherein you do your work independently throughout each week based upon the assigned pages of the textbook and various aides and resources I provide each week.

Course Requirements

Your grade in this course will depend upon the quality of your performance on weekly in-module assignments (quizzes and discussion posts), the mid-term exam, the final exam, and your research presentation. Exams and quizzes will consist of multiple choice questions. The exams will cover information and concepts presented in the module material.  Completing all assignments and passing the final exam is required in order to pass the course.

Missed Assignments/Make-Ups/Extra Credit

There are no make-ups for course assignments unless you could not complete the assignment because of a serious medical condition, upon advisement by Student Accessibility Services, your active duty military service, you are representing the university in an authorized event or activity, or because of a religious observance- in which case I will allow you to make up the work within a reasonable time without a late penalty if you comply with any applicable notification requirements stated below.  If you complete an assignment late and none of the foregoing situations apply, your grade for the late work will be penalized as follows: a half-letter grade if it is 1-2 days late, or a full-letter grade for 3-7 days late; however, assignments will not be accepted if overdue by more than 7 days.

Thank you for your service.  Students who are deployed active duty military and/or National Guard personnel and require accommodation should contact their instructors as soon as possible after the semester begins and/or after they receive notification of deployment to make related arrangements.

Students who represent the university in an authorized event or activity (for example, student-athletes) and who are unable to meet a course deadline due to a conflict with that event must provide the instructor with documentation in advance to arrange a make-up. No penalty will be applied. For more information, see the UCF policy at <>

Evaluation and Grading

Add your evaluation and grading policies here. You may also choose to keep a table below that best fits your grading scale.

Letter Grade



93 – 100 points


90 – 92 points


87 – 89 points


83 – 86 points


80 – 82 points


77 – 79 points


73 – 76 points


70 – 72 points


67 – 69 points


63 – 66 points


60 – 62 points


59 and below



Percentage of Grade

Average of In-Module Quizzes and Discussion Questions


Research Presentation Topic Assignment


Mid Term Examination


Research Presentation


Research Discussion 


Final Exam 25%



Academic Honesty

Plagiarism and cheating of any kind on an examination, quiz, or assignment will result at least in an "0%" grade for that assignment (and may, depending on the severity of the case, lead to an "F" for the entire course) and may be subject to appropriate referral to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities for further action. See the UCF Golden Rule for further information. I will assume for this course that you will adhere to the academic creed of this University and will maintain the highest standards of academic integrity. In other words, don't cheat by giving answers to others or taking them from anyone else. I will also adhere to the highest standards of academic integrity, so please do not ask me to change (or expect me to change) your grade illegitimately or to bend or break rules for one person that will not apply to everyone. 

In this course I use utilize, an automated system which instructors can use to quickly and easily compare each student's assignment with billions of web sites, as well as an enormous database of student papers that grows with each submission. Accordingly, you will be expected to submit assignments in electronic format. After the assignment is processed, as an instructor I receive a report from that states if and how another author's work was used in the assignment. For a more detailed look at this process, visit  IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT CONSITUTES PLAGIARISM, ASK ME OR THE UCF WRITING CENTER BEFORE YOU SUBMIT YOUR WORK.  I do not want your grade to be affected by accidental plagiarism.  The Purdue Writing Center Website has excellent writing resources, including the following two videos that I highly recommend: Avoiding Plagiarism Training Tool  and Avoiding Plagiarism in Online Research

Accessibility Statement

The University of Central Florida is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for all persons with disabilities. This syllabus is available in alternate formats upon request. Students with disabilities who need accommodations in this course must contact the professor at the beginning of the semester to discuss needed accommodations.  Students who need accommodations must connect with Student Accessibility Services, Ferrell Commons, 7F, Room 185, phone (407) 823-2371, TTY/TDD only phone (407) 823-2116, before requesting accommodations from the professor.


This course may contain copyright protected materials such as audio or video clips, images, text materials, etc. These items are being used with regard to the Fair Use doctrine in order to enhance the learning environment. Please do not copy, duplicate, download or distribute these items. The use of these materials is strictly reserved for this online classroom environment and your use only. All copyright materials are credited to the copyright holder.

Third-Party Software and FERPA

During this course you might have the opportunity to use public online services and/or software applications sometimes called third-party software such as a blog or wiki. While some of these could be required assignments, you need not make any personally identifying information on a public site. Do not post or provide any private information about yourself or your classmates. Where appropriate you may use a pseudonym or nickname. Some written assignments posted publicly may require personal reflection/comments, but the assignments will not require you to disclose any personally identity-sensitive information. If you have any concerns about this, please contact your instructor.

Professionalism Policy

Disruptive behavior includes but in not limited to making inappropriate and/or offensive comments, treating others with disrespect. I will strive to treat you with respect and expect all students to be respectful toward me and every other student in class. I may lower the class grade of any student who engages in repeated or severe disruptive conduct up to one half of a letter grade and may refer the student to the student conduct process for further discipline as appropriate.

University Writing Center

The University Writing Center (UWC) is a free resource for UCF undergraduates and graduates. At the UWC, a trained writing consultant will work individually with you on anything you're writing (in or out of class), at any point in the writing process from brainstorming to editing. Appointments are recommended, but not required. For more information or to make an appointment, visit the UWC website at, stop by MOD 608, or call 407.823.2197.

Inclusion at UCF

The University of Central Florida considers the diversity of its students, faculty, and staff to be a strength and critical to its educational mission. UCF expects every member of the university community to contribute to an inclusive and respectful culture for all in its classrooms, work environments, and at campus events. Dimensions of diversity can include sex, race, age, national origin, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, intellectual and physical ability, sexual orientation, income, faith and non-faith perspectives, socio-economic class, political ideology, education, primary language, family status, military experience, political beliefs, cognitive style, and communication style. The individual intersection of these experiences and characteristics must be valued in our community.

Title IX

As we will discuss in greater detail during the course. is a Federal law that makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex that interferes with educational opportunities is an offense subject to the same penalties as offenses based on other protected categories such as race, national origin, etc. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you can find resources available to support the victim, including confidential resources, and information concerning reporting options at Perpetrators are subject to expulsion or termination and may also be subject to criminal penalties. The university has the responsibility to address all information it receives about any student having been subject to sexual violence outside of classroom discussion.  Students may disclose that he or she has suffered sexual violence in class because of the nature of the subjects we will be discussing. IF SUCH A DISCLOSURE DURING THIS COURSE, EVERY STUDENT WILL KEEP THE INFORMATION IN STRICT CONFIDENCE. I WILL CONSIDER ANY FAILURE TO DO SO AS A SEVERE CLASS DISRUPTION AND WILL LOWER THE VIOLATOR'S COURSE GRADE AS PER THE PROFESSIONALISM POLICY ABOVE, AND REFER THE VIOLATOR TO STUDENT CONDUCT AS APPROPRIATE. 

Academic Calendar

The University's Academic Calendar for the Fall 2021 Semester can be accessed here: Fall Semester 2021 Academic Calendar

Academic Engagement Assignment

The University is required to document students' academic activity at the beginning of each course. In order to document that you began this course, please complete the following academic activity by FRIDAY, AUGUST 27 or as soon as possible after adding the course. Failure to do so may result in a delay in the disbursement of your financial aid. The week one assignment is: Module One Quiz

Research Assignment 

Each student is required to choose and research a practice of discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation in a foreign country, and to prepare a presentation of the research findings to group members.  Group members will be required to review and comment on the presentations of all other group members, then respond to group members' comments on the student own presentations.  It is very important that all group members meet the deadlines for each of the three stages of this research assignment as further explained throughout the course.

Campus Safety Statement for Students in Online-Only Courses

Though most emergency situations are primarily relevant to courses that meet in person, such incidents can also impact online students, either when they are on or near campus to participate in other courses or activities or when their course work is affected by off-campus emergencies. The following policies apply to courses in online modalities.

  • To stay informed about emergency situations, students can sign up to receive UCF text alerts by going to <> and logging in. Click on “Student Self Service” located on the left side of the screen in the toolbar, scroll down to the blue “Personal Information” heading on the Student Center screen, click on “UCF Alert”, fill out the information, including e-mail address, cell phone number, and cell phone provider, click “Apply” to save the changes, and then click “OK.”
  • Students with special needs related to emergency situations should speak with their instructors outside of class.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due