Associate Professor, Sociology and Women's & Gender Studies Profile Image
Associate Professor, Sociology and Women's & Gender Studies Women's & Gender Studies 725 Oldfather Hall
Teaching in WGS

I teach WMNS 201 Introduction to LGBTQ Studies. I love teaching the course because we have the chance to learn how, as one student reflected, “the world is more queer than I thought.”

In the class, we grapple with big questions about sexuality: Why do we have identity categories like “heterosexual” or “lesbian” or “asexual” and have we always? Should we get rid of labels for sexuality or expand the options we have to label ourselves? I love that we learn about LGBTQ histories and the many ways LGBTQ people have found each other, built communities, and engaged in activism to change the world.

I also teach WMNS 301 Sexuality and Power. I love teaching the course because we have the chance to learn the state’s role in regulating sex, bodies, and sexuality.

In the class, we grapple with big questions about law and sexuality: How does sex become the purview of the state? How have laws changed as a result of feminist and queer activism? Why do some feminist and queer activists argue that seeking changes in law only is not an adequate strategy to achieve social justice? How are inequalities embedded in our laws and how do laws create inequalities? What understandings about sexuality and gender emerge in the law? I love that we discuss current debates unfolding in our society, like religious exemption laws in relation to gender and sexuality.

Research in WGS

I am interested in the cultural and legal meanings of sexuality and how these meanings change, particularly with regard to increasing recognition of LGBTQ identities and families. My research encompasses a variety of viewpoints, including the general public, family members of LGBTQ people, and LGBTQ people themselves.

My current research includes a project that examines American public opinion of religious freedom laws that reference LGBTQ people. These are laws that many states have introduced and passed in the wake of marriage equality for same-sex couples that provide religious exemptions for certain services and benefits for LGBTQ persons. My research seeks to understand how Americans make sense of these laws and why they support or oppose these laws.

WGS Courses

WMNS 201: Introduction to LGBTQ/Sexuality Studies

WMNS 301: Sexuality and Power

SOCI/WMNS 226: Families and Society

Selected Publications

Kazyak, Emily, Kelsy Burke, and Mathew Stange. 2018. “Logics of Freedom: Debating Religious Freedom Laws and Gay and Lesbian Rights.” Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World 4: 1-18.

Kazyak, Emily and Brandi Woodell. 2016. “Law and LGBQ-Parent Families.” Sexuality & Culture 20 (3): 749-768.

Scherrer, Kristin S., Emily Kazyak, and Rachel Schmitz. 2015. “Getting ‘Bi’ in the Family: Bisexual People’s Disclosure Experiences.” Journal of Marriage and Family 77 (3): 680-696.

Kazyak, Emily. 2012. “Midwest or Lesbian? Gender, Rurality, and Sexuality.” Gender & Society 26 (6): 825-848. Lead article.

Martin, Karin and Emily Kazyak. 2009. “Hetero-romantic Love and Heterosexiness in Children's G-Rated Films.” Gender & Society 23 (3): 315-336.


National Science Foundation Grant, "Religious Exemption Rights and Minority Rights"

Early Career Award, awarded by the American Sociological Association Section on Sexualities, 2018

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Education, awarded by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Office of Graduate Studies, 2016

LGBTQA+ Voice for Equality in Nebraska, awarded by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln LGBTQA+ Resource Center, 2015


Ph.D., Sociology, University of Michigan

Areas of Specialization





Curriculum Vitae