Campus Pride’s research team Dr. Sue Rankin and Dr. Genny Beemyn along with executive director Shane Windmeyer submitted this Letter to the Editor in response to an opinion piece published a week ago in The Chronicle of Higher Education. In late August, Campus Pride and twenty-four other LGBTQ and higher education professional associations issued a national letter asking the Common Application to add optional questions related to gender identity and sexual orientation to standard form for college admissions.
Read the Letter to Editor and share your comments on the The Chronicle of Higher Education website.
To the Editor:
In his essay, “‘I’m Pretty Sure I’m Gay.’ But Please Don’t Ask” (The Chronicle, November 29), Adam D. Chandler is critical of the effort that we are leading through Campus Pride to have the Common Application add optional questions that ask sexual orientation and gender identity. He cites his own experience being reluctant to recognize himself as gay when he was applying to college 14 years ago as a reason to deny the ability of others to self-disclose today. Lost in his essay is that these questions are optional and do not affect admissions and financial aid (contrary to what he implies, no college offers affirmative action to LGBTQ students).
Campus Pride as an organization, and we as researchers and practitioners, acknowledge and respect youth who, like a younger Mr. Chandler, are struggling with accepting their sexual and/or gender identities, or who decide not to come out. But we also believe that the growing number of students who are out should have the ability to indicate these identities on admissions and enrollment forms, just as they do their race, ethnicity, and religion. Failing to provide questions on sexual orientation and gender identity signals that these aspects of their identities are marginal and should be kept hidden and that institutions do not support or care about individuals who identify as LGBTQ.
The institutions that are offering optional questions on sexual orientation and gender identity (more than one hundred currently) are indicating that they do care and are exercising their institutional commitment and responsibility to LGBTQ students. These campuses want to be able to track the number of openly LGBTQ students applying, being accepted, and enrolling in their institutions to better understand and support them. The absence of questions on LGBTQ identity on application forms makes obtaining this data more difficult, which hinders the ability to address these students’ academic retention and success. This issue is especially important in supporting queer students of color and trans students of all races, who experience multiple oppressions and, as a result, are much more likely than other students to struggle academically and personally in college.
We applaud the colleges that are allowing LGBTQ students to self-identify and hope that other colleges, and the Common Application, will soon follow suit. Institutions cannot address the needs of LGBTQ students if these students are forced to remain invisible.
Executive Director, Campus Pride
Coordinator, Trans Policy Clearinghouse, Campus Pride
Director, Q Research Institute for Higher Education, Campus Pride