LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The next influx of UC students may be asked to state their sexual orientation.
In January, the Academic Senate recommended that upon accepting admission offers from a University of California school students should have the option of identifying themselves as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender.
The UC Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools had mixed reactions but agreed that the question would allow them to collect important statistical information. They recommended putting the question on the SIR forms instead of college applications to protect students' privacy.
The news made the front page of UCLA's campus paper Daily Bruin and is stirring controversy across UC campuses.
Supporters say the declaration will help campuses better plan for the needs of LGBT students.
Queer Alliance Board member Luis Roman said he has spoken with university officials about the proposal, which he enthusiastically supports, because he believes it will bring badly needed services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students.
Some members of that community believe it would show that there are many more LGBT students than university officials realize.
"I think the numbers are way bigger than we really imagine or know," Roman said.
The sexual orientation question would likely be optional. That may mean that a sizable number of students would not respond or would do so dishonestly -- skewing the results, said Raja Bhattar, the director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center at UCLA.
The data would be collected from incoming freshmen and transfer students.
High school senior Brian Vo, who was visiting his friend Quincy Vien on campus, said he wouldn't mind being asked.
"I think it's fine. They're just collecting information to kind of cater to the population. It's not obligatory -- it's voluntary -- so it's up to you whether you want to or not."
None of the UCLA students who spoke with CBS2 objected to the idea of being asked about their sexual orientation -- on the condition that it was optional.
Although UCLA has a reputation as a LGBT-friendly campus, Camilia Lacques warns that LGBT students have been victims of prejudice.
"You can walk around and hear gay, you can hear f----t, you can hear awful remarks, you can [see] stares at some of my self-identified male friends that wear heels for example that get harassed everyday...so, as much support as there is, there is definitely anti-queer backlash on this campus," the student said.
UCLA student Ernesto Valles said the sexual orientation survey might lead to special dormitory floors that would create a safe environment for LGBT students.
For now, the idea remains a proposal and, if approved, it would apply to all schools within the UC system.
According to the Daily Bruin, the sexual orientation question has been approved to appear in forms presented to incoming students within the Cal State and community college system.
The newspaper also reported that Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Lawrence H. Pitts will be responsible for deciding whether to pass the proposed measure for the UC school system.
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