American Scene: Optional LGBT question added to college application

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa has become the nation’s first public university to include optional questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on its application, a move hailed Wednesday by advocates hoping to improve the college experience for gays.

University officials say the move sends a strong signal that they value the diversity that gay, bisexual and transgender students bring to campus. They say that knowing some students’ sexual orientation will allow them to track their enrollment and graduation rates and promote housing, student groups and programs that might improve their social and academic success.

The new application asks students whether they “identify with the LGBTQ Community.” The item is listed with other optional questions about topics such as interest in military programs and fraternities and sororities. A second change added “transgender” as an option for an applicant’s gender.

NEW YORK

Mayor hits brakes on pedicab rates decision

NEW YORK — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg hit the brakes Wednesday on a proposal to keep tourist-toting pedicabs from charging confusing, sometimes exorbitant rates.

The plan — the latest in a series of attempts to regulate the tricycle taxis in recent years — was up for Mr. Bloomberg to consider signing Wednesday. But after a pedicab driver complained that the city was unfair to the pedal-powered cabs, Mr. Bloomberg said he wanted “to find out a little more” about the proposal.

He said he’d announce by Friday whether he’ll sign the measure.

About 700 pedicabs now ply city streets, according to the New York City Pedicab Owners’ Association. The vehicles, resembling giant tricycles with three-passenger carriages in the back, mainly jaunt around Central Park and other midtown Manhattan landmarks.  

PENNSYLVANIA

Man sues Boy Scouts, Mormons over sex abuse

PHILADELPHIA — A Delaware man sued the Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Wednesday over childhood sexual abuse committed by the scoutmaster at his church-sponsored troop.

Melvin Novak sued Wednesday in state court in Philadelphia, charging in part that newly released Boy Scout “perversion files” show the organization hid abuse claims for years.

“They knew about this conduct, they knew what was going on, and they covered it up in the most despicable way,” lawyer Stewart J. Eisenberg said at a news conference attended by Mr. Novak and his father.

The lawsuit names the larger Mormon church and the Downingtown-area temple Mr. Novak attended.

Mr. Novak’s abuser, Vance Hein, is in prison for a parole violation related to his 1999 misdemeanor conviction in Mr. Novak’s case.

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