Bellevue College is giving prospective students more than the standard "male or female" options. Applicants can now choose from "Feminine," "Masculine," "Androgynous," "Gender Neutral," "Transgender," "Other" and "Prefer Not To Answer"when answering the question: "What is your gender identity""
Following that question is: “What is your sexual orientation?” Applicants can choose from "Bisexual," "Gay," "Lesbian," "Queer," "Straight/ Heterosexual," "Other" or "Prefer Not To Answer."
“We started collecting the data this fall quarter. It’s about being able to track how well GLBTQ, and gender variant students, are doing in school and how we can design better services, better classes better programs to make sure these students succeed. Up until this point there has been no way to track how that’s done,” Colin Donovan, adviser for the LGBTQ Center at Bellevue College told MyNorthwest.com.
The data is private and only used internally, reports the site. The new data collecting system was accepted by all Washington state community and technical colleges.
Colin hopes the data can help fund LGBTQ centers for education and programming so that the 500 students who utilize the center each quarter can find jobs after they graduate.
“I believe I am the only out trans staff member at Bellevue College,” Colin said. “I can say, from my own experience, that employment is extremely difficult for trans and gender variant people. People might be hesitant to hire someone if they don’t fit into one of the other boxes or they might be worried about some backlash because their customers might not be comfortable with you.”
Petri Muhlhauser, a student involved with the university’s LGBTQ Center leadership program hopes the data will help push for more tangible things, such as gender neutral bathrooms.
“One of the big things that we’re looking at, and pushing for, right now is gender neutral bathrooms on campus,” she said. “ There are fifteen gender neutral bathrooms on campus but only three of them are available for students and one of them is specifically for dance students. So that’s two gender neutral bathrooms, both of which are in the library.”