ELMHURST, ILLINOIS, August 30, 2011 ( – High school students applying to Elmhurst College in Illinois this fall will be asked whether they consider themselves “a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The liberal arts college, located just outside Chicago, is boasting on its website that it is the first undergraduate program to ask that question of its applicants.


Answering the question is optional, Gary Rold, Elmhurst’s dean of admissions, told the Sun-Times. Checking “yes,” however, could make a student eligible for scholarship assistance of up to 30% of tuition.

Rold also said that including the question is intended to help the college direct its homosexual students to services and organizations targeted for them.

“Increasing diversity is part of our mission statement,” he told the news service. “This is simply closing the loop, in many ways, of another group who has a very strong identity.
It may not be race and religion but it’s an important part of who they are.”

The application includes optional questions about religious affiliation and language spoken at home alongside the question about sexual orientation.

President S. Alan Ray called the revised application “entirely consistent with our mission and vision to prepare students to ‘understand and respect the diversity of the world’s cultures and peoples.’”

In a recent statement, David Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, criticized the college’s comparison between sexual orientation and ethnic identity

“In defending their decision to include a question about ‘sexual orientation,’ by asserting an offensive and absurd comparison of race to a condition constituted by subjective desire and volitional sexual acts, Elmhurst College administrators reveal their own ignorance,” said Smith.

Elmhurst is affiliated with the liberal leaning United Church of Christ, which became the first denomination in the country with an openly gay minister when it ordained William Johnson in 1972.

The college sponsors an annual LGBT guestship in honor of Johnson, who is an Elmhurst graduate.