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University of Iowa first to ask incoming students about sexual orientation

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"From a political and social perspective, this has been a long time coming," Georgina DodgeUniversity of Iowa's chief diversity officer and associate vice president, said in a statement.

The questionnaires will give the university, which enrolls more than 30,000 students, the knowledge it needs to better offer on-campus resources to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, Dodge said.

It will also help the university track retention rates, offer support services and gauge interest in campus programs, the school said.

University officials said that if students do not want to out themselves on application questionnaires, they do not need to answer those optional questions.

Campus Pride, a gay and lesbian advocacy organization that has sought to persuade more colleges and universities to include sexual orientation questions on applications, confirmed that Iowa was now the second institution of higher education to take that step after Elmhurst.

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