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Background

All Cal Poly students have the option to voluntarily self-identify and update information pertaining to their sexual orientation and gender identity through the Cal Poly portal. In 2014, all students who submitted an application via CSUMentor had the opportunity to self-report this information through admissions applications. As of April 2017, this option is available for all students to self-report or update. In March of 2019, Cal Poly students, staff, and faculty began being listed in the Cal Poly directory under their preferred name, recognizing the importance of name to individual identity.  Beginning in January 2020, all students will be able to provide the university with personal pronouns through the campus data systems.  Once updated, pronouns will display on the classroom and other administrative rosters and in some essential student service systems across the university.  The data collected will be used to improve support services for students, faculty, and staff of all sexual orientations, gender identity, and expressions.  

Why is Cal Poly collecting data pertaining to gender identity and sexual orientation?

On October 8, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed California Assembly Bill AB 620 (2011), which requested the California State University (CSU), University of California (UC), and California Community Colleges (CCC) "to collect aggregate demographic information regarding sexual orientation and gender identity of staff and students within other aggregate demographic data collected, and would require annual transmittal of any report to the Legislature, as specified, and posting of the information on the Internet Web site of each respective institution."2 Providing students with the option to self-identify their sexual orientation and gender identity supports the university’s priorities of creating an inclusive and welcoming campus environment across the California State University system. Including these questions on the application signals to applicants that Cal Poly is an inclusive environment that acknowledges diversity among gender identity, sexual orientation and gender expression and that the LGBTQ community is a welcome part of our community. 

Additionally, the California Gender Recognition Act (SB 179) went into full effect in January of 2019. The collection of preferred names and personal pronouns is one way in which the university is practicing greater inclusion and accommodating these changes.

Terminology

Sexual Orientation - referring to an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction to other people.  This can be fluid and people use a lot of labels to describe their sexual orientation.

Gender Identity - referring to one's innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither.  This is how an individual perceives themselves and what they call themselves.  This may be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.

Gender Expression - referring to the external appearance of one's gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to societies defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being masculine, feminine, or androgynous. 

Preferred Name - referring to the preferred names of individuals, also known as lived names or names in use.  Individuals may choose preferred names for many reasons, including nicknames, names that reflect cultural, religious, or familial preference/practice, names that students select for campus use because people mispronounce their given/birth names, or names that accurately reflect a person's gender identity (whether legal or not). 

Personal Pronouns - referring to language construction sets used in place of nouns and align with how an individual chooses to be referred.  An example of pronouns is she/her/hers.  More information about personal pronouns can be found at mypronouns.org. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the wording on the CSU Application?

Sexual Orientation
Do you consider yourself to be:

  • Another orientation (please specify): _____
  • Asexual
  • Bisexual
  • Decline to state
  • Gay
  • Heterosexual or straight
  • Lesbian
  • Not sure
  • Pansexual
  • Queer

Gender Identity
How do you describe yourself?

  • Another identity (please specify): _____
  • Decline to state
  • Genderqueer/Gender Non-conforming
  • Man
  • Not sure
  • Trans man
  • Trans woman
  • Woman

Gender Expression
How do you describe the way you express your gender identity in terms of behavior, appearance, speech, and movement?

  • Both gender conforming and gender non-conforming
  • Decline to state
  • Gender conforming
  • Gender non-conforming
  • Not listed
  • Not sure

These questions were developed by Vice Presidents for Student Affairs, Directors of Outreach and Recruitment, Directors of Admissions and Records, Registrars, and campus LGBTQ Resource Centers were consulted in the development of the questions that now appear in the CSU’s admissions application. Recommendations to the Chancellor’s Office took into account experiences of practitioners working in LGBTQ student services, and best practices as they are currently understood in educational research and the Consortium of LGBTQ Resource Professionals. With respect to these, and the approaches employed by the National Health Interview Survey4 and California Health Interview Survey5, respondents are provided a space to self-identify if the available answer options do not suit them.

Who are the authorized campus officials who have access to this data?

The Registrar is the custodian of all student records, including gender identity and sexual orientation data. Campus officials who have direct access to this data include the Registrar and their designees. Staff who have access to this data must be designated as having legitimate need with respect to recommendations described in the Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students jointly issued by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education in 2016.3 Gender identity data are only available to select officials in specific campus units who utilize gender identity to guide decisions and allocate resources in their service to students. These campus units at Cal Poly are Counseling ServicesCampus Housing, the Dean of Students OfficeInstitutional Research and the Pride Center.

Preferred names and pronouns are populated into necessary systems to better serve the student at the university. 

Note: There may be issues with some systems communicating to secondary systems.  If you encounter this, please notify sabyrd@calpoly.edu who can work with you to explore the issue more closely.

Is this data protected?

The CSU provides voluntary opportunities for students to respond to questions about their sexual orientation and gender identity in the CSU's Admission Application and in student self-service portal. All collected data are protected, including data of a sensitive nature. Significant safeguards are in place to ensure that only those with a legitimate need have access to the data. 

Preferred names and personal pronouns will be used across various student service systems to be more inclusive of a students lived experience.

How will Cal Poly use my responses?

Gender identity and sexual orientation data collected at Cal Poly will be added to the overall figures for the California State University System, providing meaningful population data necessary to allocate relevant resources and other specific student support services to students across California. Once a large enough sample is collected, Cal Poly will revisit the option of disaggregating this data for use in developing campus-specific offerings, both curricular and co-curricular, to promote an inclusive and welcoming learning environment on our campus. 

As with all other demographic questions on the admission application, providing gender identity and sexual orientation data are optional and, as required by law, will not impact admission decisions. This information may neither be used in making admission decisions nor in any other discriminatory manner. The new questions represent a more inclusive method of data collection, benchmarking, and outreach/communication to relevant campus constituencies. 

Preferred names and personal pronouns will be used across various student service systems to be more inclusive of a students lived experience.

How do I update my current information? (Identity, Preferred Name, Personal Pronouns)

Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, & Gender Expression

To voluntary disclose or update your admissions Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression (SOGIE) data, log into My Cal Poly Portal and click on Student Center under Single Click Links. Under the Personal Information section, click on the Other Personal drop-down menu and choose Identity.

Preferred Name

Individuals may choose preferred names, also referred to as lived names or names in use, for a variety of reasons: they are nicknames, the names reflect a cultural, personal, religious or familial preference/practice, students who select another name for campus use because people mispronounce their given/birth names, or names that accurately reflect a person's gender identity.

To set a preferred name in your Cal Poly portal, log in and click the Personal Info tab.  Under “My Info” click edit in the Preferred Name box.  Write your preferred name and click save.  Students who identify with their legal name will not need to make any changes.  The portal automatically sets preferred names to be the same as legal names unless manually edited.

The University will use a student’s preferred name, except in very limited circumstances where a legal name is required.

Personal Pronouns

All students will be able to provide the University with personal pronouns in campus data systems. Once updated, your pronouns will display on classroom rosters and other administrative rosters.  In addition, these will appear in some essential student service desks across the university.

To set your personal pronouns in your Cal Poly portal, log in and click the Personal Info tab.  Click the pronouns link in the dropdown box under Personal Information.  When you select the Pronouns option, you will be taken to the Pronouns Page.  Here you will be able to select pronoun sets from a drop down menu or type in your subjective, objective, and possessive pronouns and click save.  All students will be defaulted to "Not Listed" and will be blank until this action is completed. 

The University reserves the right to remove or deny a preferred name or personal pronoun submission if used inappropriately.  This includes, but is not limited to, foul or inappropriate language or identifiers submitted to avoid a legal obligation or to create misrepresentation.

Names with excessive characters may not display correctly in some systems.

Disclaimer:  If you are just beginning to explore your identity, preferred name, or personal pronoun sets, it is recommended that you use these with a small group of trusted family and/or friends until you are fully comfortable sharing this information.  Though these can be changed as necessary, once placed into your portal they become a campus record and are shared in the campus data system.  This data is used to enhance various academic and student services. Please do not upload your information into the portal if you are not ready to share this information with faculty and staff.

You may also visit the Office of the Registrar on campus in Building 1, Room 222 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. during weekdays, for assistance.

Why can't I change my selection for assigned sex at birth on my Student Center?

Currently, the only way to change one's selection for assigned sex at birth is to present legal documentation to the Office of the Registrar. The only time students are able to to select assigned sex at birth is when students first self report through the CSU Mentor application. 

What if I am a student who is just beginning to understand my gender identity and/or sexual orientation?

All of the data collected is on a voluntary basis and not required. Students questioning their identity or facing other issues related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity can seek support through Counseling Services, Campus Housing, the Dean of Students Office, and the Pride Center.

Is this available to faculty and staff?

This option is not available to faculty and staff at this time. Although, if a state employee is also a student, that person would have the ability to make this self selection and this data would be included in the data collected.

How do I change my legal name or gender marker on University records?

Legal name and gender marker changes can be changed on campus records by completing the Name/Date of Birth/ID Change Form available from the Office of the Registrar. You must provide acceptable documentation from both the A list and B list for verification.  The Office of the Registrar is located on the second floor of the Building 1, in room 222. 

What is a university staff member or faculty refuses to use my preferred name or personal pronoun?

Report the incident to the Office of the Dean of Students.

How often can I change my preferred name or personal pronoun?

There is no limit to how often you can change your preferred name or pronoun, but changes may take up to 30 days to propagate in some systems.

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