Guest Post: From Candidate to Law Student: Collaboration and Collective Efforts to Support LGBTQ+ Inclusion


Elizabeth Bodamer, J.D., Ph.D. (she/her/ella)
Director of Research
Law School Admission Council, Inc. (LSAC)




Judi O’Kelley, J.D. (she/her/hers)
Chief Program Officer
National LGBTQ+ Bar Association (LGBTQ+ Bar)


The 2022 matriculant class in law school today is the most diverse class in the history of legal education. We have made progress, but there is more work to be done.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are needed not just at the admission stage, but throughout the prelaw-to-practice pathway. Law schools play a crucial role in creating an effective and supportive learning environment is important for everyone, particularly for LGBTQ+ students. LSSSE data shared in a blog post last year reveal that gender diverse and LGBQ law students were more likely than cisgender and straight students to report not feeling comfortable being themselves at their law schools.

Figure 1: Students Reporting Not Feeling Comfortable Being Themselves

Source: Data from the 2020 Law School Survey of Student Engagement Diversity and Inclusiveness Module. Data collected from over 5,000 law students across 25 law schools. LGBQ students represented about 14% of the sample and gender diverse students represented 1% of the sample.

It is within this context that LSAC and the LGBTQ+ Bar have worked to provide candidates, students, and law schools with data  about the experience of LGBTQ+ students in addition to information about the availability of LGBTQ+ inclusive policies, practices, supports and resources.

Surveys administered by LSAC and by the LGBTQ+ Bar have found that schools are making progress in supporting LGBTQ+ applicants, students, faculty and staff. For example, the LGBTQ+ Bar found that that 99 participating schools (96.1% of survey participants) self-report that they allow transgender and nonbinary students who have not legally changed their names to have their name-in-use reflected on applications and forms. This is a positive change from a number of years ago. The next stage of inquiry is whether schools are implementing these policies and practices in a way that improves the student experience. LSAC found that of the 110 schools who responded to their question about chosen name usage:

  • 67% reported that students’ chosen names automatically appear on their orientation name tags and/or materials.
  • 49% reported that students’ chosen names automatically appear on faculty class rosters, 41% reported that this action requires students to submit a request, and 5% reported that students’ chosen names cannot appear on faculty class rosters.
  • Only a very small proportion of schools indicated that students’ chosen names automatically appear on their transcripts (15%) and diplomas (14%).
  • Almost 40% of schools reported that students’ chosen names cannot appear on transcripts that can be sent to employers.
  • Almost one-third of the schools reported that students’ chosen names cannot appear on their diploma.

Woven together, the work done by the LGBTQ+ Bar and LSAC reveal that while progress has been made in creating a more inclusive experience for LGBTQ+ students, there are areas for growth.

Supporting the LGBTQ+ community in legal education takes a collective effort. Today, we know that according to LSAC data, about 0.6% of the 2022 matriculant class self-identified as transgender, gender nonbinary, or genderqueer/gender fluid, and about 14% of the 2022 matriculants identified as LGBQ+ (i.e., not straight/heterosexual). We expect these numbers to continue to grow given the latest 2022 Gallup report that about 1 in 5 Gen Z adults identify as LGBTQ+. To support this new class and all future law students, LSAC and the LGBTQ+ Bar are collaborating to administer a joint 2023 LGBTQ+ survey to law schools. The goal is to combine our efforts to build on our robust resources and insights for applicants, current law students, and schools. In order to have impact, we must work together.