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Tips For LGBTQ Applicants To Law School

LGBTQ applicants may often find themselves deciding whether or not to discuss their sexual orientation when applying to law school.
“Law school is a very, very tough environment in general,” Zahar Lopez, a law student, says in the Law School Admission Council’s “Choosing an LGBT-Friendly Law School video.” “So you don’t want to add to the stresses of being a law student, additional stresses of not fitting in because you’re gay.”
Daniel Waldman, a contributor at U.S. News & World Report, recently discussed when to bring sexual orientation into an application and when to keep it out.
The Personal Statement
Many LGBTQ candidates may choose to disclose their sexual orientation in the diversity statement, but Waldman says the personal statement is also an opportunity to discuss it.
“That is not to say that you should force the issue,” Waldman writes. “But if you have an experience that has played a part in your career goals – for example, by making you want to defend and promote LGBTQ rights – including it in your essay would give admissions committees better insight into who you are and provide a unique story to separate you from other applicants.”
The main difference between the personal statement and the diversity statement, Waldman says, is in the context of each.
“The personal statement is usually about your life experiences and how they led you on the path to law school, while the diversity statement is meant to convey how you would contribute to school’s student body and heterogeneity,” Waldman writes.
You Don’t Need To Disclose Your Orientation
Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable disclosing your orientation in an application, Waldman says it’s not important to specifically discuss it.
“Your sexual identity may be a significant part of who you are, but even if you discuss your aspirations to advocate for LGBTQ rights, you don’t need to disclose your orientation,” he writes. “Furthermore, if you’re applying to some schools that are not as LGBTQ-friendly as others and are less comfortable outing yourself to the admissions committee there, you might want to prepare a slightly different version of your personal statement omitting that part.”
Know Your Schools
Law schools now are making an effort to focus on inclusiveness and diversity in their applicants, so that’s good news for LGBTQ applicants. But it also means that, as an applicant, you’ll need to know what differentiates each school from one another.
“With the much-welcomed focus schools now put on inclusiveness, most of them are happy to provide data on the number of LGBTQ students, faculty and staff, and highlight opportunities available such as journals, clubs, clinics or classes relevant to the LGBTQ community,” Waldman writes.
Knowing what each school offers can help you craft a unique application for each school you apply to.
Sources: U.S. News, Law School Admission Council