How and Why MIT Asks About Sexual Orientation

Last week I reported that the University of Iowa had become the second institution to ask applicants about their sexual orientation and gender identity. As a couple of helpful readers noted, I was wrong about that. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology added such a question this year, though it did not publicize its decision the way Iowa did.

MIT’s optional question asks, “How would you describe your sexual orientation/gender identity?” The options are are “lesbian,” “gay,” “straight/heterosexual,” “unsure,” “bisexual,” “transgender,” “prefer not to answer,” and “another identity,” which allows applicants to type in their own description.

Below is MIT’s explanation of the rationale for asking the question.

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