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Can Your California College Ask You If You're Gay?

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Photo by Aaron Amat via Shutterstock
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Yep: A question about a student's sexual orientation could show up next year on paperwork submitted to California colleges and universities.

Of course, students at University of California, California State University, and community college campuses won't have to answer the "are you gay?" question, according to the L.A. Times, because the response will be voluntary.

It is a "little-know state law" that works to determine the size of the LGBT population on California higher-ed campuses, with a goal to use that number to "explore whether they are offering enough services, such as counseling, for those students."

The law is AB 620, authored by Assemblyman Marty Block (D-San Diego) and signed into law last fall by Gov. Jerry Brown. More from the Times:

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The law calls for schools to adopt policies that discourage bullying and harassment of gay and lesbian students. It also asks, but does not require, state campuses to allow students and staff "to identify their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression" on any forms used to collect such other demographic data as race and national origin.

Because of the law's ultimate goal, gay activists are actually happy about the question that could be posed on enrollment forms for the state's colleges and universities.

The Daily Californian, the UC Berkeley publication, reported earlier this month:

Although the UC collects data on ethnic groups, socioeconomic status and other demographic categories to track issues such as retention efforts and graduation rates, Academic Senate Chair Robert Anderson said there is currently no method in place to measure how LGBT-identified students fare on UC campuses. “We collect data on other groups, and it’s time that we treat LGBT people the same way,” he said. “I think this is a very reasonable aspect of expressing our diversity.”

However, others worry it will be an invasion of privacy. Conservative pundits believe it is a move made to tie in with ObamaCare policies, and the "big government" meddling in mandated insurance, i.e. "if it looks like another end-run on health insurance, mandates, and conscience, it’s a good bet that that’s what it is," (from a site who has to asterisk-out the "uee" in the word "queer").

The "are you gay?" question, however, isn't likely to come on applications, since arguments have been made about prospective students wishing to keep that information from parents who may view their applications, as well as the notion that a high school senior may not yet be aware of his or her own sexuality.

The UC system rejected a plan to include the sexuality question on applications, but is looking to add the voluntary question to enrollment forms for fall 2013, as is the CSU system.

The Daily California made this video of Berkeley students discussing the "are you gay?" issue: