Future JD Students

Coming Out in the Application Process

View Video: Coming Out on Your Application

As an LGBT person, you may find yourself in situations where you must decide whether or not to be out, under what circumstances, and with whom. The law school application process presents just such a situation. One place you will face the decision about whether or not to come out is on the application itself. Some people will conclude that their sexual orientation or gender identity is irrelevant and will choose not to mention it. Others view it as an integral part of who they are and will discuss it openly. Many fall somewhere in between.

When making your decision about where to apply or how out to be on your application, consider carefully each school that interests you:

  • Do you feel that the school will value the diversity you may bring as an LGBT student?
  • Does the school value the perspectives that LGBT people bring to the classroom?
  • How are members of the admission committee likely to consider this information about you?

Ultimately, you may be out on some applications and not out on others. The choice is yours.

Remember, different law schools are looking for different things in the personal statement, so read the application requirements carefully. Regardless of what you choose to write about, your statement should be personal—admission committees use this essay as a way to learn about you, your background, what you will bring to their law school, and how you will enhance and fit in with the school's culture and community.

If you choose to be out on your application, you will have to decide how to convey that message. You may want to focus your personal statement on your experiences as an LGBT individual. Perhaps your identity is the main motivation for attending law school. Will your sexual orientation be the central theme of your personal statement or just get a mere mention?

Topics you may want to write about include:

  • significant accomplishments;
  • leadership;
  • community activism;
  • employment with LGBT-related organizations;
  • discrimination or adversity you have faced because of your identity; or
  • future career goals shaped by your sexual orientation or transgender status.

There are less obvious ways to be out on your application, such as mentioning LGBT activities or involvement on your résumé. You may also want to discuss with your recommendation letter writers your choice about being out on your applications.

If you have trouble making the decision, try seeking the advice of a recruiter from each school that interests you. You can meet many recruiters at one time at the Law School Forums held throughout the country each year by LSAC. Explain your situation and ask how they would respond. If you prefer to seek the information anonymously, you can call the schools' admission offices. If you are able to locate LGBT students at each school, ask them how they addressed this issue.

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