Guidance for Law Schools Gathering LGBT Student Data

To: NALP Member Schools
From: LGBT Section
Date: August 2012 (updated from February 2011)
Re: Guidance for Gathering LGBT Student Data


Upon the recommendation of NALP’s 2010 Recruitment Practices Advisory Group, as of 2011 law schools are asked to report the number of students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) in the NALP Directory of Law Schools (NDLS).

Because any demographic information that is self-reported is inherently subject to underreporting, and because there may be specific concerns about privacy when asking individuals to reveal their sexual orientation and gender identity, the NALP LGBT Section has undertaken efforts to propose some “best practices” for collecting this information easily and accurately.

Based upon discussions with various law schools that have developed a strategy and/or have already begun collecting this information, the NALP LGBT Section proposes the following steps:

  1. Request LGBT demographic information from your admissions office (received via LSAC applications). This will provide you with some base number of self-identified LGBT students. Presumably, this number will be lower than the actual number.

  2. Add language to students’ Symplicity profiles allowing them to self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. This can be accomplished by adding a “yes/no” checkbox next to the following statement: “I self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.” (This change can be made in the “Forms” section of Symplicity.) A response to this question need not be mandatory.

  3. Meet with the student LGBT group (or its leaders) to discuss the new collection efforts and encourage members to both self-identify (via Symplicity) and spread the word to non-members who might also self-identify.

  4. Draft language to be used in publicity materials. Some potential language follows. (Always include a statement acknowledging the protection of confidentiality.)

    RE: “Stand Up and Be Counted”

    Every year, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) collects demographic information on the composition of law school student bodies. In the past the information collected has included race, gender, and ethnicity. Beginning in 2011, NALP added the number of students who self identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) for inclusion in the NALP Directory of Law Schools. This change brings the NALP Directory of Schools in line with the NALP Directory of Legal Employers, which already provides information on the LGBT demographics of employees.

    Please help [LAW SCHOOL] accurately report the demographic information of its student body by standing up and being counted. To ensure that you are counted accurately, please take a few moments to update your Symplicity profile, which allows you to report your demographic information, including the option of self-identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

    Your confidentiality will be protected. The [name of career services office] is the only office at the school that has access to Symplicity and we do not share any demographic information regarding ethnicity or sexual orientation with faculty, administration, or employers. NALP receives only aggregate numbers concerning the demographic characteristics of our student body. NALP does not receive any information that identifies the names of students along with their ethnicity or sexual orientation.

    Demographic information is useful to many different groups, including prospective law students as well as employers. Please do your part in painting an accurate demographic picture of [LAW SCHOOL] — log on and update your Symplicity profile today.

  6. Engage in publicity efforts (recurring, over the course of a couple weeks) to encourage all students to update their Symplicity profile demographic information, especially those who identify as LGBT:

    • Direct e-mails from OCS and/or law school administration (dean, dean of students) to students and student groups
    • Facebook Page updates
    • Student newspaper article
    • Posters/flyers
  7. Please include your findings in your NALP Directory of Law Schools listing, which should be completed by TBD.

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