College Admissions

Two interesting articles about admissions and LGBT students have come across my desk recently:  One is about colleges seeking gay applicants, and the other is about asking students, on the Common Application, what their orientation is.

As much as I’d rather see LGBTQ students at a college that really does welcome them, I hate anything that seems like it might be ghettoizing students. For some, their orientation is barely important; what med school they want to get into is most important.

But at the same time, that anyone’s even asking the questions means there is starting to be more consistent recognition that gender and sexual orienation are important aspects of identity.

Now if we oculd just get them to make the question about gender a blank to fill in instead of a choice that dichotimizes our genders.


3 Replies to “College Admissions”

  1. Right now, the NY State Bar Assn’s Transgender Subcommittee of its LGBT committee, and the NY County Lawyers Assn LGBT Issues Committee are doing a survey of all the colleges in NY state about their policies and accommodations for transgender students. I suspect this survey may be the first time many of these schools have even given a thought about transgender students.

    Actually, the survey didn’t go to quite all of the schools. The policy at West Point is well known.

  2. It’s an interesting idea, and connecting admitted LGBT students to current LGBT students is a pretty worthwhile goal. This is especially true for trans students, since we have specific needs around housing, health care, etc. that administrators often aren’t willing to discuss honestly with prospective students. My school has long had an informal network of current trans students who will scope out incoming trans students (usually on Facebook) and contact them to answer their questions. It would be great if that were an official effort supported by Admissions.

    At the same time, I don’t think it’s necessarily helpful for applicants to indicate their sexual orientation or gender identity, even at schools known to be accepting. My school is a small liberal-arts college with a large, welcoming LGBT population, and it’s often stereotyped or disparaged as being full of queer folks. A few years ago Admissions did a study of popular perception of the college, and found that “transgender” was one of the “negative/weird” qualities that people associate with the school. Fear of a large LGBT community often colors our interaction with prospective students — parents will ask tour guides (especially men) if they’re gay, or whether their heterosexual child will be able to get a date. Many current students argue that the Admissions office has toned down their presentation of queer issues to prospective students, e.g., there used to be brochures in the Admissions lounge titled “Queer Life at [School Name]” — not anymore.

    I worry that in a situation like that, if Admissions had access to students’ sexual orientation and gender identity, they might conclude that there’s more to be gained in terms of diversity by targeting students who AREN’T queer — the same way they target athletes to move away from our school’s reputation as, uh, wimps :p

    I think that there are ways to reach out to LGBT students without explicitly asking them to identify themselves on the application (which many may be uncomfortable with anyway — don’t forget that parents, guidance counselors, etc. are also looking at students’ applications!) Perhaps there could be an additional form, that comes with the application but is mailed to a separate address and processed separately, that says something like
    “Please check the appropriate box(es) if you’d like information about:
    __ LGBT life on campus
    __ Services for students with disabilities
    __ support for students who are veterans
    __ the Latin@ community on campus

  3. Definately shouldn’t be something that’s asked.

    But since I’m going back to college tomorrow, I can tell you for one… they system in general is quite unkind to trans students. Almost all federal data (despite going through all the hoops when I changed my name) for FAFSA had the previous information attached….

    Really sucked.

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