College freshman entering the University of California system next year could be asked to identify themselves as gay, straight, bi, or transgender when they accept their admissions offer.
The system’s Academic Senate initiated the proposal, which would add an additional question to the statements of intent students fill out when deciding to go to the University of California. The statements already include a host of identifiers such as race, gender, and ethnicity.
The question will not be asked on applications to the schools because students may feel uncomfortable filling out the forms in front of their parents, according to Robert Anderson, chair of the senate.
“Sexual orientation is a part of diversity and cannot be ignored,” Anderson said after the proposal was passed, according to the UCLA student newspaper, the Daily Bruin.
“It’s past time for this,” he told ABC News.
Collecting data on sexual orientation among undergraduates, graduate students, staff, and faculty could help the school ensure there are services in place for LGBT members of the community, he said.
The senate was spurred to pass the bill by California state government, which already mandates that community colleges and California state universities collect information regarding students’ sexual orientation. It has been requested by the state that the UCs also collect this demographic information, Anderson said.
Many LGBT students said told the student newspaper they thought the proposal was a good idea and would help lead to more benefits for LGBT students.
“The data may not be accurate, but something is better than nothing,” Marcus McRae, a senior who heads the student Queer Alliance, told the paper. McRae noted that UCLA’s LGBT center was very beneficial to him when he arrived on campus.
Anderson was not sure whether the information would factor into roommate assignment decisions for incoming freshmen.
The proposal comes at the same time that a college student from the opposite coast, at Rutgers University in New Jersey, is on trial for allegedly spying on and intimidating his roommate for having a gay sexual encounter. Dharun Ravi, who is accused of a hate crime, Tweeted messages about his suspicion over his roommate’s sexuality, “F**K MY LIFE/He’s gay,” and told friends that he “Saw my roommate kissing a dude. Yay!”
The suicide of Ravi’s roommate, Tyler Clementi, and trial ahve sparked public outrage at gay-bullying among students.
The proposed policy at the UC system will be decided by the school’s provost, Lawrence Pitts, who is assembling a group to study the ramifications of such a policy, according to the Daily Bruin. The system has not yet announced when Pitts will issue a decision.