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Response to “Add LGBTQ identity question to college application”

In Monday’s guest column, Daniel Kort suggests that an optional LGBTQ identity question be added to next year's undergraduate application. While I find Kort’s commitment to creating a more LGBTQ-friendly campus commendable, as a gay student myself, I oppose the proposal because it would bring unfair disadvantages to LGBTQ applicants who have yet to come to terms with their identity or who are not ready to come out.

Kort finds it problematic that demographic information such as race, religion and sex is collected on the application form while sexual orientation is not. But I find this analogy itself problematic. Identities like race, religion and sex are either socially imposed or easy to discern. Most youth are able to identify which “labels” apply to them during adolescence. But sexual orientation is different. Drawing upon my own experience, I recognize that many LGBTQ individuals are unable to fully ascertain and come to terms with their identity in such an early stage of life. Having been questioning my sexual orientation for a long time, I did not come to a definite conclusion until the first semester of my sophomore year. For many, this process involves a lengthy journey of self-exploration and self-struggle, thus no answer could be given at the time of application to college.

Even if an individual could ascertain his or her LGBTQ identity so early, he or she might not be ready to be open about it and check the box on the application form. Given that the LGBTQ community is still often stigmatized, many LGBTQ individuals quite understandably are not prepared to come out when they lack the mental strength and psychological maturity to navigate potential challenges.

Thus, the policy change proposed by Kort would give the LGBTQ individuals who are certain and open about their identity an edge over those who are not. This carelessly contrived proposal would actually hurt a large portion of the LGBTQ community.

Yueran Zhang, Trinity ’15


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