HRC Blog

Duke Change in Common Application Strives for LGBT Equality

Duke UniversityThis week, Duke University made a change to its Common Application to explicitly mention and inquire applicants about their sexual orientations and gender identities.

The university added a new supplemental question to the form, which reads: “Duke University seeks a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you’d like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you’ve had to help us understand you better—perhaps related to a community you belong to, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or your family or cultural background—we encourage you to do so. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke.”

Daniel Kort, a Duke University senior and president of Blue Devils United (BDU, Duke’s LGBTQ student group), started the Duke EqUALS (Equitable Undergraduate Admissions for LGBTQ Students) Project last year. The goal of the Project was to improve the way in which the Office of Undergraduate Admissions treated sexual and gender minority applicants. Kort explained, “Duke's non-discrimination policy lists a host of marginalized identity factors including race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. All of these identities existed on the application for undergraduate admissions with the exception of sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, we brought this double standard to the attention of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, and asked that it be addressed in a similar manner to our peers at Elmhurst College, the University of Iowa, and MIT, who also feature LGBTQ identity questions on their undergraduate applications.”

This change comes after BDU’s successful “You Don’t Say” Campaign, which took a stand against anti-LGBT language. “It's really a great time to be an LGBTQ Blue Devil,” Kort said.

As young people push to attain the goals of the LGBT community on their college campuses, HRC is working to provide tools, facilitate connections with other LGBT student activists across the country and empower youth to fight for LGBT equality on campus and beyond. Learn more about HRC’s Youth and Campus program here.

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