Oregon Colleges May Begin Asking If Students Are Gay

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A proposed bill in Oregon would instruct students, staff and faculty to identify their sexual orientation on forms they submit to public universities and community colleges.

House Bill 2995 would not require public institutions of higher education in the state to collect information about the sexual orientation of their students, but it would encourage it.

According to a summary of the bill: “Each public university… community college or other institution of higher education that operates in this state shall allow all students, faculty or staff to identify the person’s sexual orientation on any forms used to collect demographic data that includes gender, race or ethnicity.”

Rep. Sara Gelser is sponsoring the legislation. Steven Leider, a graduate student who researches LGBT issues at Oregon State University, came up with the idea. While conducting his work, he discovered that the lack of data on the number of gay students at college campuses was a major impediment.

“This dearth of demographic data severely hinders any kind of empirical research from being conducted about this largely invisible student population,” said Leider.

The bill may help schools more properly address the needs of their LGBT populations.

“Not everyone wears a big neon sign to explain their sexuality to others so it can be difficult to accurately assess the needs and experiences of students without making a concerted effort to hear from them, especially those students who choose to conceal their identity,” said Dave Coburn, the legislative director for the Associated Students of Portland State University.

Some do not support the measure.

Tammy Johnson, an admissions director at Marshall University, wrote a column for The Chronicle of Higher Education arguing that a better reason for asking for this particular piece of information must be given, The Daily Caller reported.

“Otherwise, despite institutions’ best intentions, for future generations of prospective students for whom LGBT status will carry less and less stigma, the answer to ‘are you gay?’ on a college admission application is very likely to be ‘it’s none of your business,’” she wrote.

Sources: The Daily Caller, Education News