"Would you consider yourself a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community?"

That's what Elmhurst College recently asked prospective students on its application form. The private liberal arts school in suburban Chicago, which is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, is believed to be the first college in the US to ask the question.

The school said the demographic query was optional, and designed to help connect prospective students with appropriate resources.

"It also allows us to live out our commitments to cultural diversity, social justice, mutual respect among all persons, and the dignity of every individual. These are among the core values of this institution. They provide the foundation for all of our academic, student and community programs," Elmhurst President S. Alan Ray says.

Campus Pride, a nonprofit organization that advocates safer learning environments for LGBT students, praised the move. The group has been trying to get universities to ask the question for the past five years. A handful of schools -- including Dartmouth College and the University of Pennsylvania -- currently have admissions procedures that help identify LGBT students without actually asking the question.