University of California and California State University Campuses Invite LGBT Students to Self-Identify

In an effort to determine whether LGBT students are receiving adequate services and support, prospective students who are applying to or enrolling at the University of California and California State University next year may be asked to volunteer information on their sexual orientation. The move to allow students to state their sexual orientation was encouraged by a law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that calls for “educational institutions to adopt policies discouraging bullying of LGBT students.” While some students have voiced concerns for privacy, others have been more receptive, saying that most students will likely participate if the universities uphold their promises to keep the information confidential. Elmhurst College in Illinois was the first American institution to ask applicants to self-identify as LGBT. The move has proven to be quite successful for the liberal arts college, as nearly 5 percent of 2,204 applicants have identified themselves as LGBT, with few applicants opting to skip the answer the optional question. Though the information isn’t used to make admissions decisions, it does qualify students for the diversity “enrichment scholarship” once admitted. — Fatima Najiy