Target: United States Department of Education
Goal: Applaud the observance of same-sex parenting on school financial aid forms
The U.S. Department of Education has made a very important change to its federal financial aid application. Rather than having students list their parents as “father/stepfather” and “mother/stepmother”, they will now file their parents as “Parent 1” and “Parent 2”. This small change is extremely significant for the LGBTQ community, as it creates equality between students who have heterosexual parents and students who have homosexual parents. Commend the Department of Education for taking a step towards equality.
The old FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form forced students with same-sex parents to assign one parent as mother and one as father though they might have two dads or two moms, or it made them feel the need to leave one parent off of the form. This put students in very uncomfortable positions, and sometimes deterred them from applying for financial aid entirely. Even if students still did apply, the form was inaccurate and did not reflect their family structure.
This form change has many positive effects. As Crosby Burns aptly points out, “Without accurate language to describe their families, students with same-sex parents are likely to see their application delayed due to often unavoidable inaccuracies. Some may not even submit an application at all due to the complexity and confusion caused by the FAFSA’s use of gendered language. What results is inequitable access to financial aid for students with same-sex parents.” Now, instead, all families are treated equally and families with same-sex parents have equal opportunities when applying for financial aid. In addition to this, this easy and uncomplicated fix will serve as an example for other institutions that issue financial aid, as they often model their forms after FAFSA. As more forms become gender-neutral, more students will reap the positive benefits.
Commend the Department of Education for setting a positive example and participating in progress towards equality.
Dear Department of Education,
Your recent change on the FAFSA form is commendable. Now that students’ parents are designated as “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” rather than “father/stepfather” and “mother/stepmother”, you have become inclusive towards the LGBTQ community.
In the past, students with same-sex parents have had difficulties with FAFSA forms. With one spot for a male parent and one spot for a female parent, students were at a loss about which parent to designate as which sex, or wondering if they should even include both parents. The new form provides an equal opportunity to all students, regardless of their parents’ sexual orientation, and makes filing for financial aid much less complicated for students who may have been deterred before due to the confusing language of the form.
Your example will most likely influence other institutions to follow suite, making life easier for students’ with same-sex parents everywhere. I applaud you for taking a step forward in the equality movement.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Chriscobar via Wikimedia