For a public university, the University of Iowa has made an unprecedented decision in its admissions process, allowing students to self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender on their college applications.
The aim is to make the process more inclusive to prospective students who are members of the LGBT population, UI officials say.
UI is the second university in the U.S., behind Elmhurst College, a private liberal arts college outside Chicago, to allow students to report their sexual orientation on an application, according to the Associated Press. Elmhurst added the question last year.
UI Senior Admissions Counselor Jake Christensen told the AP that even for students who don't identify as LGBT, the option is meant to establish to the incoming student body that the university is accepting of people from all walks of life.
"It sets that precedent of all people of all different kinds of diversity are respected here," he said. "Even if you don't want to identify, just seeing that I think communicates a pretty strong message to prospective students."
Campus Pride, a campus group that advocates for LGBT rights and in which Christensen participates, initially approached him about making the change, which he said he suggested to UI's Director of Admissions Michael Barron, who was supportive.
Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, hopes the decision will inspire other campuses to follow suit.
"This is a huge deal in that it shows any campus that it can do the same thing," Windmeyer told Insidehighered.com.
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