In Oregon, newly passed House Bill 2995 will allow students faculty and staff to identify their sexual orientation on forms used to collect demographic information that includes gender, race and ethnicity in public universities and community colleges, reports Queenie Wong of the Statesman Journal.
The idea originated from Steven Leider, an Oregon State graduate student, who has researched lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students who have been disassociated from their parents after coming out.
Leider proposed the idea for the bill to Rep. Sara Gelser in order to collect more data about LGBTQ students — data Leider says is currently lacking and could help close gaps in higher education research about the LGBTQ community, from recruitment and student retention to graduation and drop out rates.
According to supporters of the bill, answers about sexual orientation given by students, teachers and faculty will be kept anonymous and answering these questions will be optional.
Student organizations support the bill and feel it will help with bullying on campuses, which, according to a 2008 survey conducted by the Oregon Student Equal Rights Alliance and Basic Rights Education Fund, is a very real problem. They identified a hostile climate surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity as a post-secondary education barrier for LGBTQ students.
It may also prove helpful for schools to have more of a feel for the schools LGTBQ population so they can properly address their needs.
The bill was passed on April 17 by a 41-19 vote with opposition coming from Republicans. Now the bill is in the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee for review.