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Author Topic: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?  (Read 6421 times)

mobo

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2005, 02:18:50 AM »
wow, redbaron, thanks for the compliment! most times i feel like i am just posting into a big, yawning chasm, so that just made my night.  

it's funny you should ask that question - i was just reading the "homosexual ps" thread which touches on how to handle different schools and their potential reaction to coming out in your application.

the way i looked at it is this - my ps was about the professional me - what skills/interests/experiences i bring to the table as a potential law student. no place for gay stuff there because i have not been active politically in the gay community - otherwise i would have included it (from a purely professional standpoint) in my ps.

my div essay was about the soft factors that make me ME. upbringing, nationality, orientation, and the effect those factors has had on the person i am today. for example, i didn't want adcoms to value me because i am gay (seriously, who cares?)...i want them to value the potential contributions i will make due to my emotional maturity, some of which developed due to the consequences of being gay. me being gay = three sentences in my one page div statement. that's it.

i sent my div statement to every school i applied to, regardless of their religious affiliation or whether they asked for it. as far as whether certain schools would accept me or ding me based on that...well, i think that unless you are applying to a school that has a lifestyle contract (i refuse to call it an honor code) like pepperdine or byu (or others?), that it won't matter.

the "selling point", for lack of a better term, isn't who you sleep with. it is how being a minority in today's hetero society has affected you in a way that will contribute to the law school. iago was inspired to get involved with his community; i learned how to be out and about in the straight world, while accepting the inevitable conflict that brings.

slacker

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2005, 11:27:41 AM »
the "selling point", for lack of a better term, isn't who you sleep with. it is how being a minority in today's hetero society has affected you in a way that will contribute to the law school. iago was inspired to get involved with his community; i learned how to be out and about in the straight world, while accepting the inevitable conflict that brings.
I think this is a very good point.

Just because a school doesn't ask people to self-identify doesn't mean that they're not accepting. Some of the more active lgbt groups locally are at schools with an anti-gay religious posture.

My other caveat about check boxes and personal statements would be, if you're not ready to be out, don't check them. Less than 1/2 the states have any sort of employment protection based on sexual orientation. This can be something to consider when applying and at law school.

The Dread Pirate Roberts

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2005, 11:52:03 AM »
the "selling point", for lack of a better term, isn't who you sleep with. it is how being a minority in today's hetero society has affected you in a way that will contribute to the law school. iago was inspired to get involved with his community; i learned how to be out and about in the straight world, while accepting the inevitable conflict that brings.

I think this is a very good point.

I agree, and I think that's something a lot of posters overlook, and instead think that it's all about checking a box or something.  I only had one app that asked, in box form, and I didn't strictly speaking come out on any of the others, but I was active in the Queer Coalition, which shows up on my resume, and I alluded to it in my Yale 250.  I'm not at all trying to hide my orientation, it just didn't really come up.

I tried to write a diversity statement on it, but ultimately decided that my experiences thus far haven't been heavily enough shaped by my orientation (my parents are ultra-socially-liberal and so had no problem, I went to a very, very queer friendly college, I wasn't identifying as a lesbian in high school, etc.).  So I scrapped it.  I think if you don't come up with a statement on orientation that you like, it isn't something to worry about.

odaiko

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2005, 01:10:39 PM »
I agree, su. The adcoms can sniff out PS's that talk up an experience that wasn't really meaningful (or that never really happened). I've worked with GLBT organizations, put together a conference for GLBT youth, served on boards, etc. but none of that gets a mention in my PS statement. They were good experiences, but they don't say much about me and what makes me unique. Definite resume material.

Instead I chose to focus my PS on how my experiences as a gay man have shaped me as a person, a colleague, a thinker, etc. I imagine the adcom's eyes glaze over when people go on and on about the organizations they work with, no matter how diverse they may seem.

I'm glad this topic came up and people have been so thoughtful about it.
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theredbaron

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2006, 11:25:11 AM »
Thank you all for your feedback -- and I couldn't agree more, odaiko, that it's been a thoughtful conversation.

I greatly appreciate that you've helped me to remember the distinction between what constitutes resume material representing what we've done and experiences that contribute to our transformation/evolution as human beings.  I think it's easy to get caught up in comparing resumes and lose sight of the fact that their contents alone don't necessarily demonstrate that our experiences have been heavily shaped by our sexual orientation -- as you so aptly pointed out, Su. 

My debate about what to write, if anything, stems from some of what I have in common with both you, Su, and with mobo.  While I attended a very queer-friendly college, my parents were (much) less than supportive -- but not the extent that they stopped financially supporting me.  I have not been politically active in the GLBT community...so if I don't address it in my application, they'll never know.  But all of the grappling I've done with my sexuality could certainly reveal much about my emotional maturity, like you suggested, mobo. 

Though when put in this light, writing a diversity statement seems like an opportunity I'd be crazy to pass up, thanks, Iago, for the vote of confidence in just checking the box.
It's something I'll continue to think about in the coming days.  Thanks so much for the input, and I will let y'all know, odaiko.

I can't help but think that some of my difficulty in making these decisions is that I identify as bi, and people are usually shocked to learn this about me.  I was hoping to see more than one other bi female in your poll, Su, so that there'd be more people to ask about this.  :)  Though I know this isn't the best word choice, and please don't pounce on me for what I'm about to say, since I am only being sincere as I work through this: I wonder in a way if it's "easier" to be gay.  To be able to put on a uniform front to the world and simply say, "this is me."  The very fact that I could conceal an entire part of who I am from adcomms doesn't sit well with me and for that reason alone makes me WANT to check that box, write that statement.  But at what long-term implications, like what slacker suggests, especially since I don't know what's in store relationship-wise and as it is, people seem to assume heterosexuality unless I give any indication otherwise. 

I know this addresses ideas above and beyond the scope of law school applications (how refreshing to remember that there is a world outside of LSDAS!), but if anyone has any thoughts, I'd be very curious.  Thanks again for this conversation.


absy

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2006, 12:54:48 PM »
I think it's both easier and harder being bi.  on the one hand, you can identify with straight people through your interest in the opposite sex.  but since you have one foot in each world, some people in each world see you as an outsider.

the two main potential problems with being gay (in my opinion) are discrimination/oppression and dearth of options.  I had major major problems with my parents over my sexuality, and so I felt the first prong in spades.  but when I went to undergrad, there wasn't any direct homophobia (though there was latent homophobia in the vast closeted community).  but there was a huge lack of opportunities to date.  while it sounds a tad superficial, four years of relative isolation do take their toll.  I have to think that had I been bi, it wouldn't have really hit me.

thankfully I'm now in law school in a place that is both wonderfully lacking in homophobia and replete with options

odaiko

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2006, 01:19:27 PM »
trb, in your latest post you considered information that had been presented to you, synthesized it with your own thinking, and raised new considerations and questions. No matter what you write about, if you approach your personal statement with the same care and thought, it will be solid gold. Law schools want to see how you think and what kind of person you are. You have the rare ability to communicate that effectively through writing.

Regarding the bi issue... yikes, a whole new can of worms. I'll take asby's comment one step further and say there is outright discrimination against bi people within the gay community--as you may have experienced. I will admit that personally, as a gay man, I tend to be unsympathetic to bi people. I have a "you're in or you're out" mentality when it comes to the sexuality club, which isn't right, I know, and I'm trying to get better about it. That being said, if some troglodyte like me were on the adcom and you raised bisexuality as an important aspect of your life, your application might not fare as well as if you just said you are gay. If a school is actively seeking gay candidates--as some are--they might not consider your "B" to be strong enough to put you at the top of the pack.

Should you lie about your sexuality? No. But there are ways to identify yourself as queer without using either "gay" or "bisexual" in your PS...

thankfully I'm now in law school in a place that is both wonderfully lacking in homophobia and replete with options

absy, what school do you go to?
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absy

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2006, 01:29:06 PM »
I'm at Harvard

My experience here has been enriched by being gay, in my opinion.  We've had cross-over events with other Harvard schools, other law schools, Boston-area grad students.  There are about 50 other schools in the area, so it's got a huge young-ish population.  They pay for us to go to an LGBT law conference every year.  I've never ever felt uncomfortable about my sexuality here.  And one person on our LGBT board is married, and two more are engaged; not many other schools can say that.  The school, the city and the state are all very supportive.  I highly recommend this place

odaiko

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2006, 01:46:44 PM »
Wow, it sounds terrific. I haven't heard of any schools yet that have such a supportive environment for GLBT folks (maybe NYU). Based on your interactions with students at the GLBT law conferences, do you know of other top 20 schools that are particularly supportive?

I did apply to Harvard but it's a very remote possibility. My most recent LSAT score is in the Harvard realm, but I have these two other scores lurking in my closet... :)
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mobo

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2006, 01:49:56 PM »
fwiw, it is the glbt box that you are considering checking. not just the gay box. so trb - don't hesitate - coming out is coming out. being bi has its own challenges, that i believe do differ from coming out as g or l or t. but that goes to my previous post - it is about being a minority and the effect of that experience on you.

perhaps part of the effect of your experience includes the assumptions that both the gay and straight communities have about you.

i realized in looking over my posts on this subject that perhaps my advice is a little skewed - i am a little older than most of the posters on this thread (maybe even a lot older?) so my perspective of the coming out process is slightly different. ten years ago, i would have written a div essay very similar to odaiku's. today, the "issue", if you will, of my orientation has settled down a lot - to the point where it now shares equal time with other aspects of my self-identity. it is still a critical part, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't always like this.

i don't know if that helps or changes how useful my .02 has been, maybe it simply offers a little context.