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Barton named MSU’s director of gender studies

Dr. Bernadette Barton, professor of sociology and gender studies at Morehead State University, has been named the director of MSU’s gender studies program.   

“I have always planned one day to lead a gender studies program,” Barton said. “As director, I am privileged to work with a wonderful group of staff and faculty across the institution all committed to raising the profile of the program, recruiting minors and serving the University goals of diversity and inclusion.”  

Originally from Framingham, Massachusetts, Barton has lived in Kentucky since 1992. She moved to Lexington to attend the University of Kentucky, where she earned a Master of Arts in Sociology, a Ph.D. in Sociology and a graduate certificate in women’s studies. Barton has been an active member of the gender studies program (formerly women’s studies program) since joining MSU as a faculty member in 2000.  

Barton writes, lectures and conducts research on contemporary issues of gender, sexuality, religion, qualitative methods, American culture and the sex industry. She is the author of 2012’s “Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays,” and 2017’s “Stripped: More Stories from Exotic Dancers.” Barton is currently writing a fourth book titled “Porn in the USA: How Raunch Culture is Ruining America” and researching marriage equality mobilization in Kentucky.  

Barton said the theme for the 2019-20 year for gender studies program is trans awareness. In addition to bringing in speakers, the Gender Studies Leadership Team has updated the website with information on the location of all-gender bathrooms on campus and how to request a name change to one’s preferred name in student or employee records.  

“This is also an exciting time to lead a gender studies program as people learn to integrate new gender categories, resist sexual assault as seen in the #MeToo movement, and more and more people come out as LGBTQ,” Barton said. “It is very empowering to observe the transformations that occur in students as they begin to apply a new understanding of gender to their everyday experiences.”  

Founded in 1992, the Morehead State University gender studies program offers an interdisciplinary minor that fosters learning and partnerships that span divisions of gender, sex, race, ethnicity, class, religion, age, able-bodiedness and nationality. The goal of the program is to create a new understanding of power dynamics and gender categories while empowering individuals and communities.  

For more information on MSU’s gender studies program, contact Barton at, 606-783-2710 or visit