The University of Iowa in Iowa City has decided to include questions concerning LGBT identity in its admissions process, making it the first public university in America to incorporate such measures in its admissions review. Iowa follows in the footsteps of the liberal arts institution Elmhurst College, which made history as the country's first institution to ask about students' sexual orientation and gender identity in August 2011.
According to Georgina Dodge, Iowa's Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President, this information will assist the university in creating resources and fostering a welcoming spirit within the student body.
"LGBTQ students are important members of our campus community, and we want to provide them with an opportunity to identify themselves in order to be connected to resources and to build networking structures," said Dodge in a recent press release. "Asking LGBTQ students to identify themselves demonstrates that we value this aspect of identity just as we value the other categories for which students check boxes."
Shane Windmeyer, the executive director of Campus Pride, a leading organization for LGBT support on college campuses, endorses the move by The University of Iowa
"The move by University of Iowa administrators to include these specific LGBT identity questions represent a growing paradigm shift in higher education to actively recognize out LGBT youth populations and to exercise greater responsibility for LGBT student safety, retention and academic success," said Windmeyer. "For the first time, a major, public and national research university has taken efforts to identify their LGBT students from the very first moment those students have official contact with them. This is definite progress in the right direction -- and deserves praise."
The organization is still lobbying to include these questions in the standardized college application, which would apply to over 400 colleges and universities within the United States.