SOME of Barnsley College's new students were left in tears when one of the first things they had to do was reveal whether they were gay or straight - and whether they had undergone a sex swap operation.

The 16 and 17-year-olds were asked to fill in enrolment forms which included innocent questions about age, address, contact details and next of kin.

But they were also asked to indicate their sexual orientation by ticking one of the following boxes: bisexual, gay man, gay woman/lesbian, heterosexual, transsexual or 'prefer not to say'.

Many were unhappy and also asked why such a personal question had to be on the front of the form - which carried pupils' names - rather than on a separate form which could have been filled in anonymously.

The move has also been criticised by gay campaign charity Stonewall.

"We fully support monitoring sexual orientation to make sure all students are receiving a high quality experience," Stonewall spokesman Wes Streeting said. 

"However, it's simply not appropriate to do this in a way that doesn't respect the confidentiality and privacy of individuals.

"There are lots of examples of excellent practice available and we hope that Barnsley College will review their procedures."

Kelsey Bennett, 16, said: "You did feel under pressure to tick a box and then if you ticked 'prefer not to say', it might make people question why you've done that."

Connor Hewitt, 16, said the college shouldn't be pinning students down on their sexuality, adding: "I don't get why they need to know."

Ray Sanchez, 16, was surprised to see the question on the front of the form as it wasn't very discreet. "It was odd because it was in amongst a jumble of basic questions you expect like contact details and ethnicity."

A college spokeswoman said: "After careful consultation and looking at the ways other colleges collect this data, Barnsley College decided to add questions to the enrolment form in 2013/14."

Kay Tinkler, co-chairman of the Barnsley Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Forum, understands what the college is trying to achieve but suggested it could be done in a different way.

"I'm not sure why it's on the front of enrolment forms," she said. "Coming from a 16-year-old's point of view, when just filling in your name on a form can be daunting, it's probably better done anonymously, in a way that respects people's privacy."