UI Adds Optional Questions on Sexual Orientation to Applications

The Old Capitol and the Pentacrest, east side, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. (Gazette/KCRG)

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By Ellen Kurt

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The University of Iowa now includes optional questions about students' sexual orientation and gender identity in applications for admissions, officials said.

The UI Office of Admissions started asking the optional questions this fall, officials said in a press release today. UI officials said the university is the first public institution in the country, and the second institution of higher education, to specifically include optional questions about students' sexual orientation and gender identity on admission applications.

Executive Director of Admissions Michael Barron said the new question on undergraduate applications reflects "our foundational commitment to inclusion of all students, no matter what their origin or orientation."

Inviting students to provide the information will help with student success and retention, UI Chief Diversity Officer Georgina Dodge said in the press release. It provides those students an opportunity to identify themselves in order to be connected to resources and build networks, she said.

"Our ultimate goal is to create an environment where all personal identities are celebrated, and increased visibility is certainly one way to help eliminate stigma," Dodge said in the statement.

UI officials in a variety of offices discussed the idea for some time, officials said.

The new UI application for admission asks an optional question— "Do you identify with the LGBTQ Community?" —and offers "transgender" as an additional gender option.

The questions will be used to determine incoming students' needs, track retention rates, potential interest in campus programs, and to offer support resource, officials said.

The optional identity question appears in a section of other optional questions asking students about family connections to the university, parents' educational background, interest in ROTC programs, and interest in fraternities and sororities.

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