Targeting the Gays

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But not, well, in a bad way. A few colleges are now beginning to look at gay students as a way to increase school diversity. It’s common for students who are ethnic minorities to contact admitted freshmen to offer advice and push the school. Black high school students offered admission to highly selective colleges, for instance, will almost surely be contacted by black students attending the college. This is a well-established part of college admissions.

Now the University of Pennsylvania admissions office has started a program whereby gay Penn students will contact gay high school kids admitted to Penn.

One wonders how Penn can tell if students are gay. Well, according to an article by Scott Jaschik today in Inside Higher Ed: “Penn is identifying gay admits through information they provide on their applications — groups that they are members of, or statements they make about themselves in their essays.” So, investigation and innuendo? This seems like the sort of project J. Edgar Hoover might rather appreciate. Dartmouth College admissions apparently uses similar tactics.

Some people are trying to get schools to ask outright. According to the Jaschik article Campus Pride, a national organization of gay student groups, is working on trying to put a question about sexual orientation on the Common Application. The Common Application is a general undergraduate college admission application that students can use to apply to hundreds of American colleges and universities, including Penn.

Putting sexual orientation on the Common App is an intriguing idea. Homosexuality is now more accepted than in previous generations. Treating sexual orientation as merely another type of diversity, however, is an attitude many colleges are pretty unlikely to embrace.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer