12/12/2012 09:06 am ET Updated Feb 11, 2013

University Of Iowa Adds Optional Question On Sexual Orientation | Inside Higher Ed


The University of Iowa is today announcing the addition of an optional question on sexual orientation, and a transgender choice under gender, as part of an effort to make its undergraduate application one that sends a welcoming signal to all students -- and to gather information about the institution's success at attracting and retaining students who aren't straight.

To date, only Elmhurst College has such questions (although some colleges include gay/straight alliances among the list of student groups in which a prospective applicant may express interest). But Iowa will be the first public institution to add the question to its application about student identity, not interest. While colleges routinely ask about applicants' racial and ethnic background, among other topics, they have until now shied away from asking about sexual orientation, even as some gay rights advocates have pushed them to do so.