- Why Asexual Awareness Week Is Important
- LGBT Network gains public presence on Facebook & plans LGBT History Month
- Malaysian Government Performing Seminars to Teach Parents and Teachers How to Spot Gay Kids
- Kill the Gays – A Fight Against Ugandan Oppression
- Brighton Pride Review
- Campaign started for a Southampton Pride event
- Two Gay Jamaicans Contest The Island’s Homophobic Laws
- Media Highlights Worrying Trend Of Gay Conversion Therapy
- Obama’s Promise for LGBT Equality Rivals Mitt Romney’s Shocking Policies
- Outraged Cardinal Keith O’Brien Wins Bigot Of The Year Award
- Homophobia in the UK?
- Shocking “Call Me Kuchu” Tells Ugandan LGBT’s Tragic Struggle For Safety
- Cameron gets his foot stuck in it, again
- America Approves of the LGBT Community
- Kill The Gays Bill to pass as ‘Christmas gift’ to Ugandans
- Sir Ian McKellen Stands Up Against Homophobic Bullying
- Uganda Drops Death Penalty From “Kill The Gays” Bill
- First Gay Mosque Of Europe Opens In Paris
- Same-sex Marriage To Become Legal In 2013
- Iowa Becomes The First Public University To Ask Applicants If They Are Gay
- BBC Report Shows Gay TV Characters Are Under Represented
- Amsterdam Celebrates Drag Queen Winter Olympics 2012
- 10 Overlooked LGBT News Stories of 2012
- Berlusconi Says Yes To Gay Marriage – But Will He Keep His Word?
- ‘Sugar Rush’ Writer’s Bigoted Transphobia Published
- Hampshire ‘Top Police Force 2013’ for LGB
- Gay Marriage Is A ‘Category Error’
- Private: The Gay Agenda Marches On
- Private: Same Sex Marriage Legalised for England and Wales
- Private: The Gay Best Friend Myth
- MPs in Uganda Pass Anti-Homosexual Bill
Adding the non-obligatory question on sexuality and a transgender option under gender on its undergraduate application forms, the university is hoping to welcome more students from the LGBT community, and obtain more information on its ability to attract and retain students who aren’t straight.
The first public university to give students the chance to self-identify, Iowa is following Elmhurst College’s of Illinois’s example; which began asking students on their applications forms in 2011 and reported that 5% voluntarily ticked that they were gay, bisexual or trans. This significant decision, for an institution that enrols 30,000 and is considered flagship, has been praised by Campus Pride. The LGBT organisation’s executive director, Shane Windmeye, said: “This is a huge deal in that it shows any campus it can do the same thing” – and could make the Common Application board (which has 414 members, many of which are the most prestigious colleges in the US) re-evaluate their decision to not include such questions.
Whilst the option to identify as transgender may reduce pressure for applicants that feel uneasy selecting ‘male’ or ‘female’ in the dropdown box, adding the optional question “Do you identify with the LGBTQ community?” could in fact result in prospective applicants feeling they need to face unanswered, difficult questions about their own identity. As many students often wait until they are in the safe, welcoming environment of university to come out, this added question to the form has the potential to cause unease amongst those who are unsure or have not yet had the opportunity or support to explore their association with the gay or bisexual community and may not wish to label themselves before they begin the move away from home to study. The Common Application justified its decision to not ask applicants: “One common worry was that any potential benefits to adding the question would be outweighed by the anxiety and uncertainty students may experience when deciding if and how they should answer it.”
However, Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President Georgina Dodge claims: “Asking LGBTQ students to identify themselves demonstrates that we value this aspect of identity just as we value the other categories for which students check boxes.” It can’t be denied that sexuality and gender identifications are relatively absent in comparison to ethnicity questions, and perhaps it is time these questions were given more precedence. Yet, selecting your ethnicity on a form – something visible and somewhat guessable –only provides institutions and employers with data that is otherwise obvious, but answering a question on your sexuality is more personal, intrusive and students may not yet have their answer. It may be that a large proportion of those who go on to identify as LGB once at university won’t even be able to answer this question so early on, in their application forms. Will it be effective? Ignoring the question also doesn’t mean students will be able to brush over it and not worry about their inability to answer it, although at the same time it “has sent a welcoming message” as it shows sexuality being taken seriously and in confidentiality.
The Senior Admissions Counsellor, Jake Christensen, put the idea forward after he realised that “there was no targeted recruitment of LGBT students.” He says the move is positive as “For some students, this may be the first time in their lives that an institution has exhibited a sensitivity to diversity.” He added that this is “an opportunity to educate people,” as heterosexual applicants and those previously ignorant of the LGBT community may learn something from seeing more options on the form than their more commonly expected ones.