A front-runner in debate topics lately has definitely been issues involving sexual orientation. Whether it is included in military, marriage or in workplace contexts, it is something that calls for strong opinions on both sides. Now, college applications have been added to the list of topics under debate when it comes to sexual preference.
Elmhurst College in Illinois has recently added a “Sexual Orientation” question on their admission application. The question asks if the applicant considers themselves part of the LGBT community (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender). Three answers are provided: yes, no and prefer not to answer.
The college states that the question is to help diversify their campus. Applicants who check yes will be given an opportunity for more financial aid options, including school scholarships.
Almost all college applications ask for race and religion information, so why should sexual orientation be any different? It is a defining factor in the person (perhaps not the most forward) and should be answered honestly just as any other question on the application.
As long as the college is honest about their selection process, the question can’t be, or at least shouldn’t be, taken offensively. If they are willing to use the information in a positive way, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to ask?
If their enrollment numbers reflect the difference in the next few years by an increase in the LGBT community on campus then it’s obvious that the question did its job and had a positive effect. If the LGBT numbers go down, then the question should be removed.
If LGBT rights are all centered on equality, then why shouldn’t they be fine with admitting it? The apparent stigma surrounding homosexuality and LGBT rights needs to be removed and the easiest way to do that is by being honest and admitting it. Being open about it seems like the best way to remove all stipulations and negative ideals that can be falsely put around being a member of the LGBT community.
Elmhurst College is taking a bold step in a battle against stereotypes and hatred towards lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders. While the questions may be extremely blunt and forward, they are asking a question that will open a world of possibilities for some students.
It’s safe to say that in the future, it’s extremely possible that other colleges and universities will take after Elmhurst in doing so. By diversifying their campus, more LGBT students may be more likely to apply and feel more comfortable in their own campus community.
In the end, the question of whether it is appropriate to ask about sexual orientation on a college application should be left for the LGBT community to decide. The number of applicants that check the ‘Yes’ box will identify whether the question affects the applicants that much. And only then will it be obvious if the question is even worth asking.