|Ill. school becomes first to ask for LGBTQ status|
|Written by Douglas Bridges-O’Connor, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Thursday, 01 September 2011 23:20|
Elmhurst College has become the first institution of higher education in the country to explicitly inquire about perspective students’ sexual orientation.
Undergraduate admissions forms now include the question: “Would you consider yourself a member of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community?”
Elmhurst applicants may answer “yes,” “no” or “prefer not to answer.”
The question is asked alongside other demographical questions commonly included in admissions applications, such as citizen status, race, primary language and religious affiliation.
“Elmhurst College is committed to diversity and connecting underrepresented students with valuable resources on campus,” the Elmhurst College Application for Admission stated.
The suburban Chicago liberal arts college is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, a church known for welcoming LGBTQ individuals into its congregations with open arms.
The question was added to provide a welcoming and accepting environment for incoming students from all walks of life, according to Elmhurst Dean of Admissions Gary Rold.
Asking about sexual identity will help the college connect incoming students to resources at Elmhurst, such as diversity organizations and eligibility for institutional scholarships that may pay up to a third of an LGBTQ student’s tuition, Rold stated in an interview with CNN.
“The way I see it, having a question [about LGBTQ status] indicates indirectly that there is a resource available for them. Whether they feel comfortable or not answering the question, at least they know something is available for them and that the school does recognize [their status] and doesn’t shun it or ignore it,” ISU Pride President Matthew Rillie said.
ISU, however, has no current plans to ask perspective students their LGBTQ status.
“The reason [ISU] has made a conscious decision to not include a sexual orientation question on admissions or employment material is because we feel it’s a violation of privacy.
“Whatever an individual’s sexual orientation is will have no bearing on their success or failure as a student or as an employee. It’s a decision that we’ve made to allow [sexual orientation] to remain private information,” ISU Ethics Officer Michael Shane McCreery said.
While ISU currently does not offer scholarships based on LGBTQ status, one could certainly be created in the future, McCreery said.
“I think that as we try to reach as diverse a community as possible, we will continue to build our scholarships towards all persons that fit the ‘diversity’ category, the LGBTQ community being one of them. We have African-American and Hispanic scholarships and we’ve already seen an increase in a number of disability scholarships recently.
“I think it’s just going to be a sign of the times that the university will create, or an individual will want the university to create, scholarships for the LGBTQ community and have those funded,” McCreery added.