A private college outside of Chicago has begun asking potential students about their sexual orientation in a move the school says is aimed at increasing campus diversity.
Here’s the question on the application for those students hoping to attend Elmhurst College in the fall of 2012: “Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?” The three multiple-choice answers: “Yes,” “No” and “Prefer Not to Answer.”
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the addition of the question to the school's application makes the college the first in the U.S. to ask potential students directly about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
School officials say that, like questions about race or religion, the question is completely optional and will have no impact on an applicants' chances of admission. Still, those who answer “yes” may be eligible for a scholarship worth up to one-third of the cost of tuition, according to the paper.
“Increasing diversity is part of our mission statement,” said Gary Rold, the school's dean of admissions. “This is simply closing the loop, in many ways, of another group who has a very strong identity. It may not be race and religion but it’s an important part of who they are.”
While Elmhurst appears to be the first school to ask the question directly, other college’s applications give students the opportunity to identify themselves indirectly.
The Sun-Times explains: "At Dartmouth College, for example, students can check boxes of activities that might interest them, including LGBT-centered activities. At the University of Pennsylvania, students who write in their application essay that they are gay can be paired with a mentor."