College adds query on sexual orientation

August 25, 2011

An Illinois college affiliated with the United Church of Christ is
poised to become the first school in the U.S. to ask prospective
students about their sexual orientation. Elmhurst College, located west
of Chicago, said an applicant's decision to identify sexual orientation
in the 2012–13 applications is entirely optional and is aimed at
promoting diversity on campus.

"We ask a lot of question in admissions, so we thought, why not ask about this, too?" dean of admissions Gary Rold told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "We are trying to recruit students who are academically qualified and diverse, and we consider this another form of diversity."

The
question, located in the same section that asks students about their
religious affiliation, asks: "Would you consider yourself to be a member
of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community?"
Prospective students have the options of answering yes, no or "prefer
not to answer." Applicants who answer yes are eligible for a minority
scholarship that covers one-third of tuition.

The Chronicle
said Elmhurst is the first institution to include sexual orientation on
its admissions forms. Elmhurst says "our values and our vision are in
line with those of the United Church of Christ," which is one of the
nation's most progressive de­nom­inations and among the first to allow
openly gay clergy and same-sex unions.

Elmhurst College is the
alma mater of William R. Johnson, who in 1972 became the first openly
gay man ordained as a UCC minister. Theologians Reinhold and Richard
Niebuhr also were graduates of Elmhurst.