Preferences for Gays (and Gay Pretenders)?

Two trains carrying loads of conflicting
values, requirements, and prohibitions affecting college admissions and hiring
are hurtling rapidly toward each other, but no one seems aware of the impending

On one track,  the Supreme Court is probably poised to impose
new restrictions on race- and ethnicity-conscious policies in Fisher v.
University of Texas
and to allow states to eliminate such policies
altogether in Schuette
v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action
. On the other
track the movement to implement policies and programs specifically targeted to
students based on their sexual orientation is rapidly gathering steam.

“What could I have done differently?” high
school senior Suzy Lee Weiss asked in a funny
but bitter
Wall Street Journal OpEd
blaming her
rejection by a bunch of elite colleges on rampant political correctness. “Show
me to any closet,” she wrote, “and I would’ve happily come out of it.”

Ms. Weiss is not alone. There is now such
widespread (and justified) suspicion that claiming LGBT status would improve
their chances that some applicants are coming out of the closet who were never
in it. On April 15 the Chronicle of Higher Education reported
that Tammy Johnson, director of admissions at Marshall University, comments in
a paper to be delivered to the American Association of Collegiate Registrars
and Admissions Officers annual meeting next week that

[a] cursory search of online discussion
boards reveals self-identified applicants to top-tier institutions saying they
falsely claimed LGBT status in essays or during campus interviews because they
think this will bestow some type of minority status on their application and
improve their odds of admission. College-admission consultants and high-school
counselors I spoke with have heard of this happening, too. 

Ms. Johnson supports the “increasing interest
among admission officers regarding the identification of LGBT students” since
that helps them “advocate more successfully for funding and support.” Some
institutions, she notes, need to identify applicants “who would be eligible for
LGBT-specific scholarships.”

Not to be outdone, Inside Higher Ed reported
April 16 that the American College Personnel Association, along with Campus
Pride, released a paper
arguing that in order to develop an appropriate “campus climate” and “properly
implement LGBT-inclusive policies and practices” colleges must develop
demographic data about the “sexual orientation and gender identity” of their
applicants and students.

Also on April 15 the Faculty Senate of the
University of Michigan passed a resolution
calling on the administration to do more to “redirect university resources”
toward creating “a more diverse and inclusive campus,” with a special emphasis
on implementing “modern definitions of diversity (not only race, color, and
national origin, but also age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, genes
identity, gender expression, disability, religion, veteran status and economic

Special treatment of LGBT students is indeed
increasing, but it is not new. Affirmative
action admissions for gays
was proposed at the annual meeting
of the National Association for College Admission counseling in 2006, and that
year Middlebury
began “giving students who identify themselves as gay
in the admissions process an ‘attribute’ — the same flagging of an application
that members of ethnic minority groups, athletes, alumni children and others
receive.” Elmhurst
applicants who identify as LGBT become eligible for a
“diversity”-enhancing “enrichment scholarship,” and in 2012 the University
of Iowa
began asking applicants “if they identify with the
gay community,” as well as giving them the option “to identify themselves as
‘transgender’ instead of ‘male’ or ‘female,” questions “some gay-rights
advocates predict will soon be common.”

I offer myself as a prime exhibit for the
proposition that one did not have to be a prescient genius to see
“diversity”-justified gay preferences coming. A decade ago I wrote
that “insofar as the proponents of ‘diversity mean what they say, won’t they be
compelled by their new principle to insure that entering classes contain a
‘critical mass’ not only of gays and lesbians, who may be prevalent enough
(but, of course, may not) to appear without preferences, but also of
transgendered males and females, who may not so readily appear without
investigation and recruitment?”

Extending “diversity” privileges beyond
preferential treatment of blacks and Hispanics and implementing the more
“modern definitions of diversity” called for by the Michigan faculty that
include “sex, sexual orientation, genes identity [whatever that is], [and]
gender expression” may well cause the entire “diversity” edifice to collapse of
its own weight, whatever the courts decide. Would not sexual
orientation-sensitive admissions committees, for example, have to concern
themselves not only with accepting critical masses of Ls and Gs and Bs and Ts
but also how to distribute them equitably among the previously preferred groups
of blacks and Hispanics? Perhaps a new ALGBT category could be created for
Asians that would allow a few of them a way around the current quotas
goals that keep so many of them out.

The legal issues of this new colorful age of
modern diversity will make those of the old black and white version seem
wistfully simple. The civil rights amendment to the Michigan
constitution (opposed, of course, by today’s “civil rights” movement) at issue
in Schuette prohibits discrimination or preferential treatment “on the
basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.” If the Supreme Court
decides that the citizens of a state prohibiting that discrimination on the
basis of “sex” et al. violates no comprehensible understanding of the 14th
Amendment, would the University of Michigan still be allowed to accede to the
wishes of its faculty and treat some students better (or at least differently)
on the basis of their “sexual orientation” or “genes identity” or “gender

Who knows. But it would be far better for the
Court to avoid this train wreck and 
revive the legally dormant but still widely revered American creed by
holding, in both Schuette and Fisher, that every American has a
right to be treated “without regard” to those characteristics that define his
or her identity.


John S. Rosenberg

John S. Rosenberg

John Rosenberg blogs at Discriminations.

One thought on “Preferences for Gays (and Gay Pretenders)?”

  1. One would think that the growth of both preferences demanded and groups entitled to them would collapse from it own weight but the reverse appears to be true. The greater the number of beneficiaries of such policies and the greater the number of diversity bureaucrats to enforce them, the more pressure there is to continue them. And of course, the more outrageous the claims of pervasive discrimination have to be to justify such growth.
    The belief was that as discrimination ended and minorities gradually took their rightful place in society, the use of preferences would fade away. What this view failed to take notice of was that affirmative action itself would render this unlikely as rewards could be garnered without learning how to compete effectively for them without acquiring the necessary skills to do so.
    The outcome of this struggle is not at all obvious. It has already done a great deal of harm to our education system and as more and more of our leaders pass through this system, the rest of society can fall victim to this process as well.

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