University of Kentucky Asks Gay Students If They’d Prefer to Be Straight

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University of Kentucky's student health services department is facing criticism for a campus-wide survey sent via email that included uncomfortable and intrusive questions about sexual orientation, including asking gay students if they would "choose to be straight" if given the option. 

Campus Reform reports:

UkStudents who identified as LGBT early on in the survey were presented with a unique list of statements to agree or disagree with, including “If it were possible, I would choose to be straight.”

Students who claimed to be heterosexual were presented with a different set of statements, including “Homosexuality is a sin,” “Male homosexuality is a perversion,” and "Homosexuality is a mental illness."

The survey fails to promise any sort of reassurance of confidentiality, but Jay Blanton, a spokesperson for the university, told Campus Reform the survey was indeed classified. […]

“Yes, this survey was distributed to students by our University Health Service enrolled this semester,” he said. “The intent of the survey was to understand better the utilization of university health services on the part LGBT students."

Via Back to Stonewall.


  1. Ryan says

    This is akin to push polling and is absolutely reprehensible, and it’s this kind of action by the University which will make LGBT students at the school feel unsafe even within the parameters of the administration, and which would empower bigots by making them think their bigotry is officially sanctioned.


    The University of Kentucky is not clearly not a safe institution for LGBT students and has clearly been subverted by those in power to be used as a vehicle to further bigotry. Parents should avoid letting their kids go there.

  2. ToThePoint says

    I chose to be straight and in turn destroyed the life of my unsuspecting ex-wife. She was unaware that she was the subject of my deception in order to stay in the closet. This choice affected many lives including my partner, whom I turned away so I could further my selfish desire to prove to the world that I was not gay. Some people just do not get the fact that deception is mandatory if we are to chose to be someone we are not. Take it from someone who knows, lies cause unfathomable pain to EVERYONE involved.

  3. jonnathewoodswoman says

    The fundie creeps wrote that questionnaire.

    The language is so obvious. “Perversion, sin, blah blah blah” Choose to be straight. Hahahahaha

  4. Jason B. says


    Thanks for the personal contribution. More people that believe being Gay is a curable affliction need to see stories like yours.

  5. Jack M says

    I fail to see how the results of this survey could assist University Health Services. I’d send a copy of this survey to the Civil Liberties Union.

  6. Bill says

    It could be completely legitimate. The questions for gay students are ones one might ask to determine if they have self-esteem problems. The ones for the straight students are ones one might ask to gauge the level of homophobia and what it might be based on. If they also have information (whether on the form or by looking at IP addresses and knowing how those are assigned to dorms), they might be able to measure the extent to which poor self esteem is due to living with homophobic classmates.

    The planning based on the data would then be to decide whether to hire more people for counseling versus providing their straight students with “sensitivity training”.

  7. EchtKultig says

    I agree this seems like a kind of “push polling” and that it’s likely some fundie nutcase is behind it. There is just no reason to phrase the questions that way. Although I wouldn’t rule out that it is something dreamed up by a UKY psychology professor and that the university is acting as the so-called confederate…deliberately appearing biased to gauge whether the bias affects the outcome of the polling, or something like that.

  8. HDS says

    This isn’t push polling. Look at the image above. The article (sensationally, I might add) focuses on certain survey questions while ignoring others. Note that straight people also get asked to rate items such as “a woman who is a lesbian is just as likely to be a good person as anyone else” and “homosexuality is a natural expression…” (can’t read the rest). Those statements are gay positive, actually, meaning the survey features varying points of view.

    If this was a push poll or something similar, those choices wouldn’t appear. This appears to me as what Bill stated above: a legitimate survey to honestly gauge attitudes about homosexuality on campus. If you want to honestly gauge ugly opinions, you have to ask some ugly questions.

  9. says

    “It could be completely legitimate. ”

    No, not with questions about whether homosexuality is a sin, or a mental illness. This clearly has NOTHING TO DO with the provision of health services on campus, the attitudes of heterosexual students toward their LGBT peers has absolutely no impact on the health services the uni is supposed to supply.

    There is no sane reason why religion and attitudes to LGBT students should be a part of this survey.

    We know what is happening here, a group is attempting to create something from the responses of those students, whether it identifies them on campus (again, no other reason for there being unique url’s unless it’s to assign each response to an email recipient who can then be identified) for attack, or is going to be used as “A University of Kentucky survey finds that (insert homophobic religious Republican attack here)…”

    This is shameful, its insideous, and it’s directly threatening towards all LGBT people on campus.

    The scariest thing about this is the unique URL’s attached. This is a deliberate move to identify those responding and associate the responses to an individual.

  10. Brian says

    I’ve participated in surveys about sexual orientation from researchers who are very supportive of LGBT rights that include questions about whether I’m happy or unhappy about my sexual orientation and whether I would change my sexual orientation if I tried. I understand the concern, but it is a valuable piece of data.

  11. David says

    This debate is absurd. Several of those items are part of the attitudes toward gay men and lesbians scale, originally published by Gregory Herek (one of the leading researchers on sexual prejudice in the world). It is one of the most widely used measures of sexual prejudice in psychological research.

    The scale is a list of statements, and the reader is supposed to say whether they agree or disagree with the statement. Some of the statements are negatively valenced to ensure that people don’t just fill in strongly agree across the board. This is a commonly used method in survey research to make sure that the participants are paying attention to what they are filling out. If a person agrees with the statement “Homosexuality is a sin” and “Sex between two men is a natural expression of love”, then they probably weren’t reading the scale. If they are prejudiced, they will agree to the first statement, but not the second. Nonprejudiced individuals will respond in the opposite way.

    I assure you that items like these are very common in prejudice research. I don’t know what the purpose of their inclusion was in this survey, but my guess would be that they are looking at whether internalized homophobia might cause some students to be less willing to discuss important health topics with their doctors (e.g., accurate reports of sexual activity). This is actually a very important issue. If they are trying to ensure that LGBTQIA students are able to safely receive the health services that they are entitled, more power to them.

  12. EchtKultig says

    Well, I was kinda close – it was dreamed up by a psychologist! I’m not sure the debate is completely absurd though, because it’s still not clear what this research is trying to prove with respect to providing campus healthcare. As you admit yourself. I mean, there’s really no point in showing:
    1) there are some gays/LGBTs on campus and
    2) there are some homophobes on campus
    and even
    3) some homophobes are closet cases

    Because everyone should know that. The only useful and interesting thing might be to also survey students for their religious affiliations, but I think that’s already been done more generally, and shows that even young evangelicals are far less homophobic than their parents’ generation. (albeit still homophobic in some cases) This seems like those studies that come out every year or so proving something really obvious…the Onion hilariously lampooned them a few years ago with “5 year study concludes five years is a long a– time”

  13. EchtKultig says

    “the attitudes of heterosexual students toward their LGBT peers has absolutely no impact on the health services the uni is supposed to supply.”

    Yes, that’s the core of the contradiction here. Maybe there is a broad definition of health services, and their purview includes counseling, but even then, again it’s curious as to why they think this information will be very useful. “Most UKY students think homosexuality is a sin, so we are going to tell that to LGBT people who come in for emotional support” ummm, doesn’t sound very helpful! And they should already have data about what those students experiences have been; having a survey like this seems like starting over from scratch or something.

  14. Bradley says

    A question “Would you prefer to be gay?” for a straight student is ridiculous. Depression, ideation of suicide, etc. are of real concern to students who identify as gay. This survey is a way of identifying a need within the population of university’s students. There are those, especially young adults, who may have a legitimate concern dealing with their sexuality and their place in the world. This survey is trying to help.

    Have we really gotten this paranoid? Not every statement is an attack.

  15. Bernie says

    it sounds like this survey is biased and weighted, which does not make for good research… good surveys and research should be reliable, non-biased, neutral and can withstand peer review…it is my belief this survey does not and cannot stand up to peer review and it is weighted already toward the negative, which in this case is being gay or lesbian…..

  16. GregV says

    “A question “Would you prefer to be gay?” for a straight student is ridiculous.”

    I don’t think so. First of all, as @David said, questions that go in different questions help guage whether respondents were paying attention. Also, some straight people do wish they were gay. I knew, for example, a straight woman who had been abused by men all her life who desperately wanted to be gay. She tried and, of course, failed as miserably as the millions of gay people who have tried to be straight to fit in.

  17. simon says

    Of course straight men wish to be gay or rather admire gay men because women feel more comfortable around gay men. Not that they enjoy being gay. It is kind of contradictory.

  18. dommyluc says

    Hmmm, I don’t see UK asking black students, still discriminated against despite 50 years of civil rights laws, “Would you rather be white?”
    And I don’t see them asking women, who are discriminated against and subject to epidemic incidents of campus rape, “Would you prefer to be a man?”
    Funny how that works, isn’t it?
    And I wonder if they would ask white men if being black or female is a sin, a perversion, or a mental illness.
    Whoever decided to have this survey should be fired and sent back to the fundy church they came from.

  19. Javier says

    Sue. I wish I was straight. I also wish I was n’t only half white but all white. I wish I was rich. I wish I was taller with a better physique and not afflicted with alopecia. I wish a lot of things but many of them I can’t change. I have to accept myself for who I am and to work with the tools I’ve been given.

  20. Javier says

    Sue. I wish I was straight. I also wish I was n’t only half white but all white. I wish I was rich. I wish I was taller with a better physique and not afflicted with alopecia. I wish a lot of things but many of them I can’t change. I have to accept myself for who I am and to work with the tools I’ve been given.

  21. Eric says

    The coverage of this survey has been incredulous and has made assumptions about the University of Kentucky and those issuing the survey, with even some highly respected LGBTQ* news sources failing to make an effort at basic journalistic inquiry and instead choosing to duplicate an initial report from a highly biased conservative “news” site. Now we have the rest of the story:

    I have three challenges, particularly for anyone within leadership roles within the LGBTQ* communities. First, please share this *complete* story far and wide: people need to see that the University of Kentucky has many stakeholders who are very dedicated to making real change happen, and they deserve not to be lumped in with a culture of ignorance and indifference. Second, please take some very brief moments to learn about the prevailing research measures in use about LGBTQ* communities because as leaders you should know these so you are better able to apply any findings through your roles — the questions used in this survey are established measures of homophobia and internalized homonegativity, not prejudicial questions designed to lead LGBTQ* to reparative therapy or worse. Finally, please try to remember there are at least two sides to every story and perform some due diligence as the leaders you are before furthering knee-jerk reactions to “news” and to news.

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