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Self-Reporting Your Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sexual Orientation




All Cal Poly students have the option to voluntarily self-identify and update 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. The data collected will be used to "develop recommendations to improve the quality of life for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender faculty, staff and students."1

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.

How are the collected 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. 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. 

What is the wording of the gender identity and sexual orientation questions on the admission 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

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.

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. 

How do I update my current information?

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. 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.

How were the questions about gender identity and sexual orientation developed? 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

What is the definition of the gender identity and sexual orientation terms used in the data collection questions? 

The following are the definitions that have been compiled by the Pride Center:

  • Asexual - Person who does not experience sexual attraction to others or strong desire for sex. They may or may not experience minimal emotional, physical, or romantic attraction and have a sexual orientation, or pursue romantic relationships. 
  • Bisexual - A person who is physically, sexually, and/or emotionally attracted to men and women. This attraction does not have to be equally split between genders and there may be a preference for one gender over others.
  • Gay - Term used in some cultural settings to describe a person who identifies as a man who is predominantly or exclusively attracted to men emotionally, physically, and/or sexually. This term can also be used for anyone who is attracted to the same sex. Not all men who engage in “homosexual behavior” identify as gay. 
  • Genderqueer/Gender non-conforming - A person whose gender identity and/or expression is neither male nor female, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination. They can see themselves as different genders at different times, both, male, female, or no gender at all.
  • Heterosexual or straight - A man who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to females/women. A woman who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to males/men.
  • Lesbian - Someone who identifies as a woman who is predominately or exclusively attracted to women emotionally, physically, spiritually and/or sexually.
  • Man - Someone who identifies as male. This may or may not align with conventional expectations for their assigned sex at birth.
  • Pansexual - A person emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to individuals, regardless of sex, gender or gender expression.
  • Queer - Originally a derogatory label used to refer to lesbians and gays, or to intimidate and offend heterosexuals. More recently, this term has been reclaimed as an inclusive and positive way to identify all people who do not follow prescribed norms of sexuality and gender.
  • Transgender - Or trans indicates someone whose gender identity or expression differs from conventional expectations for their assigned sex at birth.
  • Trans man - Indicates a transgender individual who was originally assigned the sex of female at birth, who identifies as male.
  • Trans woman - Indicates a transgender individual who was originally assigned the sex of male at birth, but identifies as female.
  • Woman - Someone who identifies as female. This may or may not align with conventional expectations for their assigned sex at birth.



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