mwhitley wrote:I was born and raised in Kansas (as were the last five generations of my family). It goes without saying that I am a Jayhawk through-and-through. However, my life experiences have made me vastly different than my many Kansan ancestors. I am gay, and growing up in a Kansas molded by Fred Phelps has been incredibly difficult. My passion for justice and equality is parallel in strength solely to my thirst for education.
I would love to have the opportunity to both follow my educational aspirations and live and study in the state that I call home. Largely due to the immense discrimination I have experienced as a homosexual in the Midwest, I am terrified to come-out in my application. It is a significant factor in what makes me who I am and gives me the perspective I have on political philosophy and the justice system. I want to be open about my identity but worry that my orientation could overshadow my strong academic standing and passion.
Is it possible that in coming-out I could be forfeiting scholarship opportunity or even acceptance?
I am a rising 1L at the University of Minnesota Law School and attended The University of Kansas as an undergraduate. KU Law was one of the places to which I applied.
Generally, in NO WAY does coming out on your application negatively impact an offer for admission or scholarships. In fact, it's quite the opposite. If your experience as a non-heterosexual has been a source of motivation for you to excel academically and be active on campus and in your community, you can bet that at least some law schools are going to look at you as a fantastic candidate. As you start the application process, you'll even find that A LOT of law schools make it known that they want very diverse student bodies, and that certainly includes LGBTs. Several schools I applied to asked about my sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It made me feel very welcome to apply.
That said, if being LGBT played little role in your motivation for wanting to attend law school or excelling prior to law school, there would not be much point in writing about that in your personal statement. But, seriously, do not hide something like this if it is important to you; it could actually COST you a scholarship/admission offer by not letting it be known.
If you are passionate about gender, sexuality and the law, my advice would be to do your research on various law schools to see what types of courses, clinics, groups, etc. they offer and discuss them in your application. You'd be amazed.
Here are my recommendations:
Yale Law School (LGBT Litigation Clinic, tons of LGBT-related courses)
Harvard Law School (LGBT Law Clinic and incredibly active LGBT student group, Lambda)
Columbia Law School (Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic)
University of Chicago (offers the Stonewall Scholarship for those who want to advance LGBT legal rights)
University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law (UCLA School of law houses The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, a prestigious and high volume research institute)
University of Minnesota Law School (Professor Dale Carpenter is an authority on sexual orientation & the law, perhaps the best school if you want to be an LGBT rights litigator)
Emory University School of Law (They house the Feminist Legal Theory Project, a very active research center)
University of Washington School of Law
Tulane University Law School (offers the only law journal exclusively dedicated to law and sexuality, JOURNAL OF LAW AND SEXUALITY)
Northeastern University School of Law (Probably the most liberal law school on the planet. You will not feel "different" there).
Some of the "gay" cities include: Minneapolis-St. Paul, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Cambridge, Seattle, and Boston. The schools there certainly reflect that.
Remember that admissions committees are comprised of people with their own biases. Some law schools MIGHT care, but I doubt you will find many (good) law schools who wouldn't love a good LGBT applicant.
The Law School Admissions Council publishes survey results of gay friendly schools, based on whether they have such things as LGBT law student groups, LGBT faculty/administration, and LGBT-related courses (http://www.lsac.org/jd/diversity/lgbt-chart.asp
). Some places I thought to be, not hostile, but perhaps not the MOST accepting were University of Oklahoma College of Law and Notre Dame Law School, of the ones I looked at. There are also a handful of conservative law schools known for being conservative (For example, Brigham Young). You may not find LGBT student groups/faculty/courses at these schools.
If you want to attend a law school where you will be accepted by the law school community, I will say that hiding who you are in an application is probably the wrong way to go. Do you really want to be somewhere where you have to hide a major part of your identity? That's three years of your life in an intense program where you will build life-long relationships with your classmates and professors; you will want to feel as comfortable in your environment as possible. Furthermore, when you deliberately hide your identity, that is unethical because it's like lying.
Now, you want to attend a school in Kansas, right? While KU Law does not offer much in terms of LGBT-related courses, it is an excellent law school. I have met Dean Freedman and Dean Mazza personally, and I can tell you that they probably do not care too much about your sexuality. They want promising students with good credentials who will be active in law school.
Be honest, and you will love the outcome. Best of luck to you!