Below is part of an article Campus Pride produced acknowledging Elmhurst College as the first U.S. institution to include demographic quesitons about sexual orientation and gender identity. This is wonderful progress and students can choose to fill this in or not. This also gives the campus a way to immediately get resources to LGBT students and track rention rates, to name a few advantages.
Elmhurst College, a private four-year liberal arts college, is the first U.S. institution of higher education to ask a demographic question about identity on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity on a college admission form. Their decision reflects a conscious choice by administrators at the college to actively include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in the broader life of the college and its campus.
"The move by Elmhurst administrators to include this question represents a distinct and unique paradigm shift in higher education to actively recognize out LGBT youth populations and to exercise greater responsibility for LGBT student safety," said Shane Windmeyer, Campus Pride executive director. "For the first time, an American college has taken efforts to identify their LGBT students from the very first moment those students have official contact with them. This is definite progress in the right direction -- and deserves praise."
The new college admissions application asks an optional question about how students identify their sexual orientation and gender identity. The question will be used to determine incoming students' needs, potential interest in campus programs and to offer support resources. Further, the question will also indicate potential eligibility for the school's Enrichment Scholarship, which can be awarded to students from underrepresented groups on campus.
The admissions application question asks, "Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community?" Students can answer "Yes," "No," or "Prefer not to say." The question appears alongside other optional questions asking students about religious affiliation, languages other than English spoken at home and whether they have worked with a community-based organization in their college search process.
"In words and action, Elmhurst College stands by our commitment to welcome and affirm all persons with respect to race, ethnicity, class, gender, religion, faith perspective, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression into the full life of the college," said Christine Grenier, Elmhurst College associate director of Admission. "Being able to reach out to LGBT students intentionally will allow us to connect to students earlier, help ease the transition to college and provide valuable resources on campus."
Last January the Common Application, which represents nearly 400 colleges and universities, rejected a proposal to add similar identity questions to their standardized national admissions application citing cultural norms and that very few colleges have sought the information. The organization the same year added a question around religious affiliation for public and private campuses.
"Elmhurst College recognizes the value of all diversity to campus life," said Windmeyer. "The college admission form is an essential way to gather data on prospective students and to communicate a message of inclusion, worth and value by the questions being asked. The bar has been set."