CSULB compiling data on students' sexual orientations

A new three-question survey provides suggested responses, such as "pansexual," "asexual," and "gender non-conforming," but also allows them to decline, say they are "not sure," or fill in their own descriptor.

California State University-Long Beach is inviting students to divulge their nontraditional sexual orientations and gender identities so it can share the statistics with state lawmakers and the general public.

California State University-Long Beach is inviting students to divulge their nontraditional sexual orientations and gender identities so it can share the statistics with state lawmakers and the general public.

CSULB announced changes to its online “MyCSULB” portal in an email Tuesday, asserting that “many students do not identify with binary terminology for gender identity and sexual orientation,” and would therefore be given “an expanded list of identity-based terms” they can use to update their personal information in the school’s records.

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“We believe the recognition of marginalized orientations and gender identities is an integral step in overcoming the oppression and discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community, and we hope this helps make CSULB a more validating and supportive place for all students,” explains the email, a copy of which was obtained by Campus Reform. “We are pleased to announce that students can now choose from an expanded list of identity-based terms for gender and sexual orientation.”

Specifically, the new option involves a three-question survey with drop-down lists featuring an extensive array of suggested answers for each item. Students may also either “decline to state” or select the “another” option, in which case they are prompted to “please specify.”

The first prompt states “Do you consider yourself to be...” and displays the options of Asexual, Pansexual, Queer, and ‘Not Sure’ in addition to the Gay, Straight, and Bisexual options.

Nor are students limited any longer to the gender binary of man and woman, gaining the option to describe how they “express [their] gender identity in terms of behavior, appearance, speech, and movement.”

Students may, for instance, select either “Genderqueer” or “Gender Non-Conforming”—or even both, if they prefer—or else may either state that they are “not sure” or choose “Another Identity” and fill-in-the-blank with whichever gender they choose.

The survey also includes an option for students to select their specific sexuality by choosing from among the recommended options of “Genderqueer/Gender Non-Conforming,” “Man,” “Woman,” “Trans Man,” and “Trans Woman,” or else by saying they are not sure, decline to answer, or wish to choose their own descriptor.

Perhaps the most curious aspect of the new option is the manner in which the information provided will be used.

Although the school assures students that their answers will remain confidential and “will not be used for discriminatory purposes,” saying its sole purpose is to help administrators “provide services to all of our student populations,” it also notes that the information will be used to compile summary demographic data.

While the survey is optional, the answers provided by students who do elect to fill out one or more of the sections on their MyCSULB profile will be used to provide statistical information—but not personal identities—on CSU websites and to the California Legislature.

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California Education Code Section 66027 requires public colleges and universities in the state to allow students and faculty the ability to identify sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression on any demographics form. Although the code only requests that institutions create reports with the information, any such report, once made, must then be provided to the Legislature and made public on the institution’s website.

The email sent to students, however, does not mention the information’s use beyond offering “campus opportunities relating to student success,” though the survey itself contains a more comprehensive disclaimer.

“This student information within MyCSULB will remain confidential and will only be used by the University to offer campus opportunities relating to student success,” the email asserts, assuring recipients that “CSULB is committed to providing an inclusive community for all students.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @amber_athey