Sarah Gantt ’23

Regent University School of Law, Virginia Beach, VA

This summer, I interned remotely with Professor Lynne Kohm at Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach. In my own words, the mission of Regent Law School is to provide students with a legal education that will help them lead with integrity and justice. The institution cares about not only the students’ academic development, but also their personal and spiritual growth.

I reached out to Professor Kohm at the beginning of the summer after my original summer plans changed, and she graciously forwarded me a list of her current research projects. Professor Kohm encouraged me to choose an area of focus that piqued my interest, and her work on parental rights in the context of sex education and transgender litigation fascinated me. My research topic broadly encompassed transgenderism in Virginia, which included investigating the details of sex education and gender transition and connecting these to parental rights. [1] I looked at recent national and (primarily) state and local policy changes regarding sex education and transgender rights.

During my first phone call with Professor Kohm, we discussed what in particular about this area of research interested me and together we formulated a strategy and compiled a list of resources and contacts to get me started. Although most of my work was independent, Professor Kohm and I reviewed my progress weekly through email updates that included logistical details, excerpts from my journal entries, and my sources. She responded to each email and offered encouragement and advice for next steps.

My research began broadly but then I narrowed my focus to examine state and local policies. In the first weeks, I read scientific papers, articles, blogs, and court opinions to better understand the context of new policies. Later, I began summarizing my research. This stage was challenging for me since there are so many nuanced details and situations to consider. During this time, my research became increasingly relevant to my life. Connections to my personal journey helped keep me motivated to continue working, but I also had to learn to distance myself from information in a healthy way. Past research I have done has been more academic, and this summer, I was challenged in new ways mentally and emotionally.

Prior to this internship, I had a lot of questions about gender and sexuality and some of those were answered. I also came into this project somewhat intimidated by law; however, the more I became familiar with family law, I became open to the possibility of a policy-related career in the future. Thank you, Class of 1974 and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration, for generously providing me with this summer opportunity.

[1] Although in the end, parental rights were not highlighted in my research presentation because advocates for parental rights align with one viewpoint in the transgender debate, and I wanted my presentation to include both viewpoints equally.