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Some Of College's New Students Left In Tears

Friday September 6 2013

Barnsley College Barnsley College

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."

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Reply Posted by Mark on Sunday September 8 2013 at 22:10
The college have no right to ask this question and their spokeswomen is clearly a fool. They should be ashamed for prying in this way. What has the world come to. No doubt another bureaucrat will now have to be employed by the college to analyse the results.

Reply Posted by Penny Crayon on Monday September 9 2013 at 12:06
What the bloody hell does it matter if the students are gay or straight???the worlds gone mad I'm afraid

Reply Posted by Kerry on Monday September 9 2013 at 12:07
Alot a forms ask the question it's even on council forms when ya wanna move house, people shouldn't get upset its just life iff they've nothing to be ashamed off its nowt to be ashamed of any way we are who we are be proud if who u are

Reply Posted by Donna on Monday September 9 2013 at 12:08
Get a grip!! They have the option not to answer most important forms ask the same question! Police forms, council job applications! Give your heads a wobble it's 2013!!! Pathetic!!

Reply Posted by spandangled on Monday September 9 2013 at 12:08
come on nar! get a Grip!! first off theres a box that says prefer not to say so they had the option of not answering and we all know that these are statistics questions.
and secondly im not bein funny but these 16 n 17 year olds never seem to have a problem showing off their sexual preference when they are snogging the face of any man, woman or beast in town and in the bus station on a daily basis and they are offended??? ...really get real nar its just summat for ya all t go on abart how ur yoing lives are so shit and how ur always getting persecuted and treat unfairly.... REALLY????~

Reply Posted by Cheryl on Monday September 9 2013 at 12:14
My son just laughed it off and left it blank. You didn't have to fill it. If this upset some then all I can say is good luck when you go for a job and I hope you toughen up in your time in collage

Reply Posted by maxine on Monday September 9 2013 at 19:29
well said Cheryl, I don't understand the fuss really as these questions are on most forms/applications etc. There is always the option NOT TO ANSWER so no one is forced to answer. I do agree however that more personal questions should not be on the front page but further into the form/booklet. Either way no one should feel intimidated (?), just answer or don't answer. Period.

Reply Posted by Katherine on Monday September 9 2013 at 12:25
The problem isn't the question, it's the fact it's on the front of the form, giving the student's no confidentiality. You have to remember that these kids might still be coming to terms with their sexuality and still might not know for themselves what their orientation is, so being asked to show it on a form that all their peers might see could be a bit stressful for them. I personally always choose 'prefer not to say' because, whether it's just a statistical question or not, I don't think sexuality should have anything to do with our education system or the figures they pull from their forms.

Reply Posted by Sarah on Monday September 9 2013 at 12:39
It's overall supposed to be a positive thing to do with Equality and Diversity and ensuring that everyone is treat the same. The question isn't a problem but the location should not have been on the front near the student's name.

Reply Posted by x on Monday September 9 2013 at 12:42
come on people give these kids a break. we as adults are constantly bombarded with official looking forms to fill in every day,but these are kids and this is probably one of the first official type forms they have had to fill in,instead of having a go at them,help them, give them a bit of constructive advice

Reply Posted by Jimmy on Monday September 9 2013 at 12:45
Unless the course is to be a rent boy why would the college want to know if someone was gay or not? As for making students cry, Jesus what's wrong with these people? If that makes a student cry imagine what'll happen when they realise that they're going to be saddled with debt and get rejected by even ASOS when they graduate.

Reply Posted by Norm on Monday September 9 2013 at 12:49
The issue is not with asking the questions, all public organisations now have to monitor minority groups to to comply with Equality and Diversity monitoring of vulnerable groups. So up and down the country other colleges and universities are doing the same as well as hospitals councils and emergency services, its part of a government initiative. The issue is the way in which it was put forward.
There was about 100 people in line when I went and besides the odd look no one batted an eyelid.

I think the standard of gutter sensationalist journalism from both the Chronicle and We are Barnsley on this matter is shocking and much more insensitive. Having seen the form when I enrolled I just put "prefer not to say" I did not however see a box that said "had a sex swap operation?" or see anyone crying, we've not seen a source of whom was in tears by the way. The chronicle and We are Barnsley's journalism style is that akin to The Sun, in that it doesn't let the facts get in the way of stirring up a good story!

Reply Posted by Ant on Monday September 9 2013 at 15:23
If it doesn't matter what orientation u are why ask the question

Reply Posted by Andrew on Monday September 9 2013 at 18:03
From what I am led to believe its all to do with monitoring statistics to make sure people are represented in college and their needs are met, There were also questions on disability, religion etc as on all forms.

Reply Posted by anon on Monday September 9 2013 at 18:25
oh grow up, i enrolled this year and it wasnt compulsory to answer the question, and how do people expect to manage in the big wide world if a questionnaire reduces them to tears? jesus christ lighten up

Reply Posted by Kyle on Monday September 9 2013 at 18:57
There was a 'prefer not to say' option. However, there is no reason why they should be asking that question. Do the local authorities need to know this information. It could possibly be useful in sexual health or possibly to show the range of students with different sexual orientations and maybe show students that they aren't alone in their sexual preferences. I'm sure the college wouldn't have asked the question if they were not going to use it in a useful way.

Reply Posted by Callum on Monday September 9 2013 at 19:22
I don't see what the fuss is all about you get those questions on most forms u fill out. No one cares what sexuality you are I had no problem ticking what I am you are what you are and if you don't want to tick what you are then u just tick prefer not to say.

Reply Posted by big jeff on Monday September 9 2013 at 23:19
Its only took nearly two years to come into light , there where forms published years ago asking the same question's when I was a student (Just then no one gave a sh*t)

Reply Posted by AJ on Monday September 9 2013 at 23:34
The College run's student forums throughout the year, in which they cover different topics. Some of the topics are based around equality and diversity as well as being safe. All the information discussed in these forums are confidential and it is not pressured on the student to answer any question's.
This information allows the college to gather important information that caters to topics such as bullying / sexual awareness and sexual health. We live in modern times people, it isn't taboo now to be what was considered different 10years ago. The information collected is looked at which helps the college recognise area's of development and learning across the college.
The College has a health screening centre in the building that caters to things such as sexual health (That is very popular) . I think it is important sometimes to know what student's the college is looking after so they can get the right support and right staff to see to any issues. I admit the form is a little too frank and information of this nature should have been given as an option for the student to give or not and Exsplained what it would be used for.

Reply Posted by Pete on Wednesday September 11 2013 at 11:41
Does it matter if your gay straight black purple or brown no it does not so these question are useless . We are all human beings treat us like that and we all have same colour blood in our veins x

Reply Posted by Bobby Tupper on Wednesday September 11 2013 at 12:13
Facebook just asked me the same question and now im crying uncontrollably. Please help WAB.

Reply Posted by Jimbo on Wednesday September 11 2013 at 17:36
there there, now dry your eyes. You shouldn't take any notice of those nasty horrible persons at Facebook. Get your mum to write them a nasty letter and have a nice cup of tea lol

Reply Posted by MrsMail on Wednesday September 11 2013 at 12:22
'Left in tears' Now that is just exaggeration. If that is the case lets hope none of them walk down Old Compton street on a night.

Reply Posted by Jade on Wednesday September 11 2013 at 14:14
We were asked this last year when we enrolled, I did question why they needed to know such a thing but there is the prefer not to say option, its not something to cry about.

Reply Posted by laura on Wednesday September 11 2013 at 14:47
That is bloody disgusting make any wonder people dont wanna go to college

Reply Posted by Jimbo on Wednesday September 11 2013 at 17:32
Is this storey for real. Come on, if students were left in tears because of such stupid questions then they really shouldn't be allowed out by themselves without mum and dad to look after them, the poor little luvs.

Reply Posted by p on Wednesday September 11 2013 at 17:38
world has gone soft.enough said

Reply Posted by Fugue on Wednesday September 11 2013 at 20:46
The question was asked because the law requires them to ask - it's the same at our college. Do your homework WAB!!

Reply Posted by Jess on Saturday September 14 2013 at 22:46
I got asked this too, though I'm an A2 now. I was quite happy to put down my orientation as gay woman/lesbian. I'm proud and I know that nobody really cares in college what you are, from my experience, there isn't a bullying issue. People care more for passing their courses than worrying about who's gay and who's straight.

However, I understand that some people might not want to reveal this or may feel pressured by or uneasy about ticking 'prefer not to say'. I know it's hard because not everyone is treated as a human being for being who they are.

Reply Posted by Megan-Shalana on Tuesday September 17 2013 at 08:18
Are these the same college students that are so desperatley wanting to be treat like adults..? Yeah, thought so. Think its about time they grew up then. We live in 2013

Reply Posted by D on Friday September 20 2013 at 14:08
Do we do anything right in Barnsley? Barnsley College, Barnsley Council, its all a shambles.