Duke University adds optional question about gender identity and sexual orientation to admissions supplement

Duke University is now among the first undergraduate institutions in the country to explicitly mention gender identity and sexual orientation on its application, according to the school's newspaper, the Duke Chronicle. The admission supplement this year will include an optional prompt, for a 250-words-or-less response, that touches on several aspects of an applicant's life including sexual orientation and gender identity. Currently, only three other undergraduate institutions – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Iowa, and Elmhurst College in Illinois – mention gender identity and sexual orientation on their applications.

Duke's undergraduate support and advocacy group for LGBTQ students, Blue Devils United (BDU), led the initiative to add the new question to the school's admission supplement. The initiative is known as EqUALS Project (Equitable Undergraduate Admissions for LGBTQ Students) and is a collaborative effort between the admissions office and BDU.

Speaking to the format of the new optional admission question, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag told the Chronicle, "We wanted to make it clear to the applicant and everyone involved in the application process that diversity is really broadly defined and not just in terms of a box you can check, not just in demographic characteristics."

Daniel Kort, a senior at Duke and president of BDU, told GLAAD:

"I am excited about what this historic addition means for LGBTQ applicants at Duke and the higher education community at large. This significant step towards LGBTQ equity makes a strong statement about diversity, and I hope that other institutions may follow. Given that Duke's approach to the issue is novel, I look forward to hearing back from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions if this question effectively serves the needs of LGBTQ applicants."

Read more about Duke University's new LGBT-inclusive admissions supplement from the Duke Chronicle