LGBT groups push to alter applications

USC has no plans to give students a direct way to identify as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, despite a national push to add such options to applications.

Students think it’s important for universities to include this on applications because this information will provide a clearer picture of what a university’s demographics are.

Emily Allen, director of the USC Queer and Ally Student Assembly, said she believes students should be able to identify themselves as LGBT on applications.

“If students are able to put their ethnicity and nationality on applications, then it seems right that they should also be able to put their sexual identity,” Allen said. “It is something that identifies them and it makes them stand out from other students.”

The Board of the Common Application decided last week not to allow LGBT students the option to identify themselves as such, disappointing many.

“LGBT youth deserve to know that the institution of their choice will be inclusive and welcoming,” said a statement from Campus Pride, a nonprofit organization for students working to create more LGBT-accepting universities.

Some feel that not allowing students to identify their sexuality on college applications prevents administrators from fully understanding what kind of students are attending their universities.

“It makes it harder for colleges to reach out to everyone and meet the needs of LGBT students,” said Serena Au, the resident adviser of the Rainbow Floor in Century Apartments.

Adding the option for self-identification could increase the diversity of programs offered by colleges and universities, Au said.

“For the Rainbow Floor in particular, it’s hard to reach out to freshmen students if we don’t know who to reach out to,” Au said. “Right now we have to wait for people to find out about us, but we could be actively recruiting and reaching out to students.”

Some pointed out, however, that not all students fully understand their sexuality by freshman year.

“It wouldn’t help us get a concrete student number because developmentally some discover their sexuality earlier or later on in life; it depends on the individual,” said Vincent Vigil, director of the USC LGBT Resource Center.

Even though USC students do not have the option of indicating their sexualities on the application, many LGBT students are happy with USC’s commitment to diversity.

“Though there is no box to check if you are gay, USC is open to diversity in its student body and would never advise students to hide something about themselves in their essays,” said Joshua DeMilta, a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and political science.

DeMilta wrote about his coming out experience in some of his college application essays.

“I talked about my coming out experience … because it shaped who I am and how I dealt with challenges in my past,” DeMilta said. “I believe that the Common Application decided to [not ask about sexuality] so that students would not face discrimination in the admission process, but they went the completely wrong way in how to do so.”

2 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I believe that rightfully so, students should not be forced to declare their sexual orientation on a college application. Personally, as an active member of the LGBT community here at USC, I was somewhat relieved to not have to deal with the additional stress of having to answer such a personal question during an already stressful college application season.

    I was not out to my parents through high school, and I feel that many others are in a similar situation. My parents insisted on looking over the application – naturally, that would have been the only part of the application that I would have lied about, in order to protect both them and me. Adding such a question in regards to sexual orientation – forcing 17, 18-year-olds to answer such a convoluted question with as little life experience that an enclosed high school environment provides – is simply a burden that I would not place upon current high school students. Like Mr. Vigil said, it would not bring reliable information to the school.

    Naturally, it would be highly illegal for universities to discriminate and accept/decline applications based on information such as gender, ethnicity, nationality, and sexual orientation. Yet somehow, over and over again, we could almost say that we see affirmative action taking place, which, in essence, is discrimination in a different form. We have to remember that USC has one of the best LGBT communities in the country. Not every university setting is quite like USC’s, in that regard. Even though official statements say that such a discrimination would never occur, one can never be sure of the true actions that happen in the black box admissions process, especially at other universities. I somehow imagine that universities of a more religious nature would exploit such a question, and might not make the correct and unbiased admissions decision based on that answer.

    Even if such a sexual orientation question were to be an optional part of the application, choosing not to answer the question would still somehow be a statement – practically an answer – to the question. For many, like myself, sexual orientation is not the most significant part of their lives. My admission to a university should not be based on whether I like red or blue, who my favorite character on Glee is, or whether I prefer males or females. For those whose orientation is a significant part, I would definitely advise to take Josh’s actions and write about it in the 1,000+ word essays that are always part of such applications. For those who do not feel that way, you shouldn’t have to be forced to come out to either your parents or your college admissions staff, when you’re stressed out with college admissions processes already.

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