Updated: November 4, 2011 10:15AM
In a small but meaningful step, Elmhurst College is now officially telling applicants that gay students are welcome on campus.
The private liberal arts college is the first college in the U.S. to ask potential students about their sexual orientation or gender identity on its application, the Chicago Sun-Times reported last week.
“Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?” appears for the first time on the 2012-13 application.
The question is meant to increase diversity at the school, which is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, and to direct incoming students toward services that might ease their transition into college life.
It’s also a strong signal that the school will embrace LGBT students and will do its best to support them.
“We try really hard to take good care of students, have them graduate and be successful citizens in the world,” Gary Rold, Elmhurst’s dean of admissions, told the Sun-Times’ Kara Spak. “The only way you do that is to meet people where they really are.”
As society has grown more accepting, life for LGBT teens has gotten easier. But a recent rash of suicides among gay teens and college students shows just much work remains to be done.
Anything a college can do to roll out the welcome mat will help ease the way.