In Oregon, newly passed House Bill 2995 will allow students faculty and staff to identify their sexual orientation on forms used to collect demographic information which includes gender, race and ethnicity in public universities and vocational schools, reports Queenie Wong from the Statesman Journal.
The idea originated in Steven Leider, an Oregon State graduate student, that has researched lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students who\’ve been disassociated from their parents after being released.
Leider proposed the concept for the bill to Rep. Sara Gelser in order to collect more data about LGBTQ students — data Leider says is currently lacking and could help close gaps in advanced schooling research about the LGBTQ community, from recruitment and student retention to graduation and give up rates.
\”This dearth of demographic data severely hinders any kind of empirical research from being conducted relating to this largely invisible student population,\” Leider told the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee.
According to Basic Rights Oregon, currently it\’s not prohibited for public colleges to ask questions about sexual orientation on college applications along with other forms, but supporters from the bill hope that it will create more consistency and curiosity about data collection later on.
According to supporters of the bill, answers about sexual orientation provided by students, teachers and faculty will be kept anonymous and answering these questions is going to be optional.
Student organizations offer the bill and feel it can help with bullying on campuses, which, according to a 2008 survey conducted by the Oregon Student Equal Rights Alliance and Basic Rights Education Fund, is a very real problem. They identified a hostile climate surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity as a post-secondary education barrier for LGBTQ students.
It could also prove ideal for schools to possess more of a feel for the schools LGTBQ population so they can properly address their needs.
\”Not everyone wears a large neon sign to describe their sexuality to others so it can be difficult to accurately measure the needs and experiences of students without creating a concerted effort to hear from them, particularly those students who choose to conceal their identity,\” said Dave Coburn, the legislative director for that Associated Students of Portland State University.
The bill was passed on April 17 with a 41-19 vote with opposition coming from Republicans. Now the bill is incorporated in the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee for review.
Elmhurst College in Illinois became the first college in the united states to ask prospective students about sexual orientation and gender identity on applications this year, and in 2012 the University of Iowa and also the first public university to inquire about applicants about sexual orientation.