Univ. of Calif. Students May Be Asked to Check Box: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender

Incoming and transfer students who apply to the University of California system could not only be asked to check boxes that indicate if they are male or female, a veteran or if they have a felony convictions, but also be given the option to declare their sexual orientation.

The system's Academic Senate recommended in January to the UC Board of Admissions that students be given the option of revealing their sexual identity, saying the information would be useful in determining how to meet the needs of entering students.

In December of last year, Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools chairman Bill Jacob, sent a letter to Dr. Robert Anderson, who chairs the systems Academic Council, referencing Assembly Bill 620 that was passed and signed by the governor. The bill requested that the UC system provide students the option of revealing their sexual orientation.

"BOARS appreciates the larger intent of AB 620 to reduce discrimination and improve the educational climate for LGBT students on campus," Jacob wrote in his Dec. 9 letter. "We also emphasize that we support any efforts to convey a message that the University welcomes LGBT students and is interested in their welfare."

In another letter from Margaret Conkey, who chairs the systems committee on affirmative action and diversity, Conkey advised Anderson that the committee recommended the information be collected on the State of Intent to Register form.

"We were particularly concerned to give individuals as many opportunities as possible, in addition to the SIR form, to self- identify if they so choose; that is, the same opportunities that are open to students to self-identify according to other perhaps more traditional 'categories' that appear on forms," Conkey wrote in her Jan. 18 letter.

In a phone interview with The Christian Post, Anderson said the UC system was simply following a directive of the state legislature.

"Assembly bill 620 mandates that college and universities outside of the UC system collect this information on a student sexual preference. But it's important to note that per California's constitution, they cannot direct schools within our system to collect the information," said Anderson. "But, it goes without saying, we feel the information will help us provide better services to our students."

Anderson also noted that they would be collecting information on sexual preferences from faculty and staff too. However, like students, no one is obligated to reveal their sexual orientation.

The issue has not been finalized. Provost and Executive VP of Academic Affairs Lawrence Pitts will ultimately decide on the recommendation after he convenes an informal committee to determine how to best collect such information.

The students could self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. But the system could simply ask about their sexual orientation with a "yes" or "no" option.

Angela Arunarsirakul, a student representative who sits on the BOARS committee, said obtaining the information from the SIR form instead of the official application would be less invasive to the incoming students.

"If the option is on the application, there will be a lot of parents looking over it, which might discourage some applicants from responding truthfully," Arunarsirakul told the Daily Bruin.

UCLA senior Marcus McRae, who is a gay fourth-year Political Science major and director of the Queer Alliance, feels allowing students to self-identify would be beneficial for students and the system.

"The data may not be accurate, but something is better than nothing," McRae told the Daily Bruin.

The Christian Post attempted to contact both the UC Academic Senate office and the Christian Students organization at UCLA but did not receive a response prior to publication.