Law School Discussion

Applying to Law School => Personal Statements, Resumes, and Letters of Recommendation => Topic started by: Trent1981 on November 07, 2003, 08:09:11 PM

Title: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: Trent1981 on November 07, 2003, 08:09:11 PM
I'm in a particular situation with my personal statement.  I'm wondering if I should include my sexuality, and the face that I'm gay as a key focus of it.  I think that I probably should, because as a result of being removed from my household in my first year of university my marks suffered notably.  Through hard work, the building of confidence, and friends I was able to get my average back up to an A-A+ level.  Is it wise to focus my personal statement around this aspect of my life?  I'm thinking of applying to Columbia, Yale, NYU, Princeton, and Harvard, and am not sure how they'd respond to such facts.  

I welcome any suggestions.
Title: Re:Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: Calculator on November 18, 2003, 02:40:37 PM
Admissions offices in top universities will be open-minded.  There are even a large number of Yale Law professors suing the military for anti-gay practices.

I suggest that you also do some more research yourself.  For example, Princeton doesn't have a law school.
Title: Re:Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: newb on November 18, 2003, 06:13:03 PM
Princeton is one law school, I can get into :)
Title: Re:Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: Jennifer C on November 19, 2003, 11:11:01 AM
Personally, even as an advocate for my local gay community, I wouldn’t include it. You don’t know who is going to be on the admissions committee, and you don’t know if they have some personal (and because of the sensitive nature of this world, probably unspoken) bias against homosexuals. In a perfect world, the admission offices would be filled with open-minded, accepting people. The world isn't perfect, so if you really want to get into a top-tier school (which are hard enough to get into), you need to remove as many reasons as you can for which they could reject you (remember, sexuality still isn't covered under anti-discrimination laws :-[ ).

Unless you are leader of your local pride chapter, you have made some huge contribution to the gay community, or something along those lines, I would leave it out. I wouldn’t deny it if asked, but I wouldn’t announce it either.

Since you brought your grades up to an A average :) , I think the change would simply be seen as a maturation during your college years. If it was the opposite (you did well and then slid downhill), I would explain, but in this case, there doesn’t seem to be a need.
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: bobfett33 on March 20, 2004, 03:48:14 PM
Well, if you really think you can turn being gay into a big "overcoming adversity" thing (or, as one girl on lawschoolnumbers put it, "overcoming DIVERSITY"), then I'd do it... if not, I don't see how it will help.
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: Lawschool2005 on March 27, 2004, 05:58:07 PM
I don't think you should mention sexuality. I agree that you don't know who will be reading the letters and may not appreciate that fact. They may even put you in the rejected pile because of it.
  However I would include that you had family problems which affected your first year of ug.
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: march hare on March 30, 2004, 05:46:10 PM
Maybe you should go to LSAC.org and do some further investigation as other students have recommended.  When you register with lsdas, there is a box you can check if you are gay, lesbian, or transgendered...  They also have a section with specific information for gay, lesbian, transgendered students to read.  I would suggest starting there.  Good luck to you.  :)
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: cal4ever on April 01, 2004, 03:38:16 AM
If you feel that you honestly had to overcome adversity (or DIVERSITY :-P) due to your sexually, then by all means, write about it!  However, you need to find a way to tie this in about your desires to go to law school or how this shows your exceptional ability to overcome hardships.  Judging from your original post, it seems like you're on the right rack.  Don't let the possibility of a homophobe reading your application deter you from writing something that has shaped you into the person you are today.  Besides, if you get rejected from a school based on your sexuality, then you obviously don't want to go to that school anyway. 

Goodluck writing your personal statement.  I've had a lot of personal hardships during my life (none about my sexuality however), but I found starting my personal statement very difficult.  It reminded me a lot of past experiences I didn't want to relive again.  :-/ 

Well, goodluck to you!   
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: L1 on April 01, 2004, 04:53:21 AM
I say include it if you think that the circumstances have made you into a better person and can also explain a lot of your trouble areas.

Don't include it, however, if you are applying to a religously affiliated school. Many of the tops schools aren't relgious, though.
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: schoomp on April 03, 2004, 12:19:52 PM
I would agree and disagree with some of the other posters.  These would be my suggestions:

1.  What is your LSAT and gpa?  If your LSAT is 175+ and your GPA is 4.0, IMO, you could write that you were sexually attracted to aliens after your abduction last summer and you would still be let in to a lot of schools.  If your lsat is 130 and your GPA 1.0, it doesn't matter if you actually did meet aliens and introduced the world to them on CNN - the chances of you getting in anywhere would be slim to none.  It is all about the numbers.

2.  After you know what your numbers are, figure out the schools you want to apply to.  When doing this figure out where realistically you can get into (if you have a 3.5 and and a 165 you probably won't get into Harvard or Yale but there are other tier 1 schools that you could).  Look into location - both where you want to go to school for three years and where you want to work afterwards.  Depending on which schools you really want to get into and your chances (i.e. you want to go to DU and your numbers are 170 and 4.0, you will probably get in without any problems), you might want to also choose some safety schools just in case.  These would be the "I really, really want to go to law school and I am willing to go here in order to do it even though I don't really want to" schools.

3.  After you narrow down your schools, see what the culture at them is like.  If you want to study and go into gay rights advocacy law and you are applying to a school that specializes in that field, then your personal statement about being gay would be extremely appropriate.  If I was an admissions person and the strong area our school taught was gay rights law and the difference between you and someone else is the other person didn't know what they wanted to learn however you had the experiences that would make you want to study gay rights law, I'd choose you.  However, if you are applying to a school that is not very open (i.e. doesn't have a Gay/Lesbian/etc group on campus, maybe is very religious, etc), then you probably don't want to mention it.  It would only hurt your chances.  However, my bet is that you aren't going to be applying to many really, really uptight schools.  I know, personally, as a woman the last thing I would do is apply to school that hated women and thought they shoudl all be home in the kitchen as no matter how good I was, I wouldn't succeed there or I would have to pretend to be something I am not (in this case a man).

4.  Lastly, this post is mostly for anyone that reads it in the future are you have probably already written your statement.  That being the case, what did you end up writting about?  How did it work out with the schools you applied to?  Did you get any feedback from them?
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: taterstol on April 09, 2004, 12:16:33 PM
I had to think a lot about this too when I was putting together my apps. If you have leadership/community involvement experiences related to your sexuality, then I think by all means mention them. If you were the president of your GSA, make absolutely sure it's on your resume. You'd be doing yourself a disservice to leave that kind of information out, because it's valuable leadership experience, and law schools will recognize that.

I was president of the GSA at my school and I included it on my resume. I also briefly mentioned it in my personal statement. I also had a lot of other things I was involved in, a lot of other strengths, so I chose to focus on those and let the "gay" part of my application be somewhat of a sidenote. I think it paid off for me, not because I'm gay, but because it led to work that I could market myself with.

That being said, if you don't have some kind of leadership or involvement to tie to being gay, I would leave it out. You will have other strengths that will be more appropriate to focus on.
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: jgruber on April 14, 2004, 04:35:28 PM
I don't think you should.  Frankly, I don't think it should even be an issue.  How many heterosexuals are going to mention it in their personal statements?  I'm didn't.   ;)
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: chooster99 on April 14, 2004, 04:54:58 PM
     As a fellow gay person, I think you absolutely should mention it!  Any school that is going to put your application in the "auto-reject" pile for simply mentioning your sexuality is not a school that you want to attend anyway.  The simple fact that being being gay shaped the person who you are today and made you work harder than other people to overcome adversity is definitely worthy of the admission committees' cosideration. 
     However, don't simply say something to the tune of "I'm gay, let me into your school please".  Utilize your sexuality to explain how you can contribute to the diversity of the class, as well as how this affected your decision to become a lawyer.  I would agree to use more caution when applying to the more religious schools, however.
     Lastly, JGRUBER, the reason why heterosexuals don't mention their sexual orientation is because they don't have to; heterosexuality is considered to be the "norm" in our society.  Being gay, black, poor, or being able to speak 7 languages is interesting and different, and is absolutely important to mention if you want to stand out from thousands of other applicants. 
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: freddy51 on April 14, 2004, 05:03:10 PM
I would definitely say it is a "different" aspect to your overall application.  However, it is not something that is going to show you overcoming adversity.  First of all, I am going to keep an open mind, despite my feelings on the matter.  Most people in the USA, including adcomms are not going to think extremely highly of your overcoming the oppression you felt for being gay.  I would guess that more people are enthusiastically against homosexuality, than are enthusiastically for it.  And you would need the latter type of person to fight for you in the admissions office.
However, if it makes you feel better, you should include it.  Don't expect any brownie points for being gay, however.
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: jgruber on April 14, 2004, 07:49:57 PM
     Lastly, JGRUBER, the reason why heterosexuals don't mention their sexual orientation is because they don't have to; heterosexuality is considered to be the "norm" in our society.   

Let's cool off a little here.  How can you know why I don't mention my sexuality?  Do you really know why or are you assuming why relying on stereotypes?

The reason I do not mention my sexuality is because I choose not to mention it.  That is the only reason.  I chose not to mention it because I don't think it's anyone's business which sex I am attracted to.

That is the point I was trying to make in my posting.  It is not and should not be an issue what my or anybody's sexual orientation is.

It should not be an issue!

Now if someone wants to mention it, that's their choice, as it should be.

 
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: jgruber on April 14, 2004, 07:52:14 PM
While we're yacking about this -- and please do not assume anything about me because of this question -- let's turn the question around the other way.

If you were a gay person on the admissions committee how would you react to someone who mentioned their sexuality, either gay or heterosexual?


Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: dta on April 19, 2004, 11:49:04 PM
I am heterosexual but socially liberal. The people on admissions boards are people just like us. So, I will describe my reaction if I got a PS mentioning the applicant's gayness.

If the applicant described him/herself as gay as simply one characteristic among many then that wouldn't be a big deal. 2-4 sentences devoted to talking about his/her gayness among a 2 page PS, that's cool. I'd think I'd learned something interesting about this person. Being gay wouldn't make me think either bad or good on you. I'd read it just as if you were to say you enjoyed frisbee golf.

But if the entire PS is about how gay you are and how there is nothing else to you but your gayness and your gayness is something you're very proud about and you can't wait to come to law school and showcase your gayness and celebrate gayness about campus - then, i'd start to be a little concerned and in a negative way. It would be the same concern i'd show if the applicant went on for 2 pages about how psyched he/she is on frisbee golf and can't way to come to the university to express frisbee-golf pride and go on frisbee-golf marches. Either of these 2 psychos, the gay-fanatic or the frisbee-golf fanatic, i'd probably pass on the applicant since he/she displays a one dimensional character. I would in general avoid one dimensional fanatics.

So, my suggestion would be to weave your gayness into the PS in a casual way that shows its significance to your life but doesn't overwhelm the PS as a whole.
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: Ziva on April 20, 2004, 12:00:57 AM
Trent,

When you apply to schools you know are liberal (Harvard, for example) I would include it.  Personally, if I were on an admissions committee I would look favorable upon openly gay candidates because I think they are one of the most viciously discriminated-against minority groups. I think many liberals feel similarly.   Also, I would respect you for having the cojones to be mention this on your app. 

However, this is a case of the blind leading the blind since none of us are on adcoms. 
Title: Re: Should I mention sexuality?
Post by: blizzard of ozz on April 20, 2004, 02:03:14 AM
I'm in a particular situation with my personal statement.  I'm wondering if I should include my sexuality, and the face that I'm gay as a key focus of it.  I think that I probably should, because as a result of being removed from my household in my first year of university my marks suffered notably.  Through hard work, the building of confidence, and friends I was able to get my average back up to an A-A+ level.  Is it wise to focus my personal statement around this aspect of my life?  I'm thinking of applying to Columbia, Yale, NYU, Princeton, and Harvard, and am not sure how they'd respond to such facts.  

I welcome any suggestions.

Problem #1 Princeton doesn't have a Law School. You do know this is a law board, right? Or is this flamebait?

Problem #2

Personally, I don't think anyone reads the goddamned things.

I wrote an essay about all the charity work I did in UG that would make grown men cry and a supplemental statement that was basically about why I wanted to go into public interest law (which went into my backgrounds/obstacles). It didn't help an iota at any of my target schools. The first draft of PS that was the worst, the one where I misspelled my name, and the name of the school. The school this was submitted to was one of the schools that offered me a large scholarship.

Problem #3 I wouldn't write about being gay unless you've been involved in activities related to the cause ie: LGBT or stuff like that. If you have EC's or WE that might be a plus, but if you're just writing an essay about how gay you are, to be honest, who cares? Sorry but "my marks were low that one term because I'm gay" is quite possibly the worst essay topic and excuse in recorded history.