Do you know how LGBT friendly your college is?
Over the next few weeks, students are entering or returning to college campuses across the country. But what does going back to school look like for LGBT students, their allies, alumni and parents?
According to Campus Pride, an organization devoted to building LGBT friendly campuses, a student’s experience is heavily dependent on the college’s active commitment to include them. In order to not only better assess which colleges welcome their queer students (and which don’t), but also encourage schools to work harder at inclusion, Campus Pride created the Campus Pride Index in 2007.
The index measures all aspects of the college experience including LGBT faculty, staff, and student recruitment policies, LGBT student organizations, LGBT friendly employer/networking events, policies regarding pronoun and name changes, availability of gender inclusive housing and bathroom options, and campus safety, RA, and health center training on LGBT sensitive issues.
Shane Windmeyer, Campus Pride C.E.O., told NBC News that they had just recently updated the Index to make sure trans students were being included.
“This year is a little bit unique. The Index been around since 2007, so we had about four hundred college seven months ago, and then we updated all the questions…We raised the benchmarks around trans inclusion, transgender housing, and campus safety issues.”
The survey that colleges must fill out includes 75 questions that go in-depth into their policies, culture, and more. After the questionnaire, the college receives a rating from Campus Pride and a report on what their strengths and weaknesses are. Windmeyer says that 80% of colleges that sign up for the Index, come back the next year having improved their LGBT services.
“Participating in the Campus Pride Index is like coming out as LGBT friendly. Even if you have two stars, participating is like coming out and saying that you’re willing to do better.”
Each year, in late August, Campus Pride releases a list of the 25 most LGBT friendly colleges in the country. Here are highlights from today's listing. For the full list, click here
1. Ithaca College – Mid Atlantic: 5 Stars
With a 5 star rating, Ithaca College was extremely strong in several areas of LGBTQ life: LGBTQ Support & Institutional Commitment, LGBTQ Student Life, LGBTQ Academic Life, LGBTQ Campus Safety, LGBTQ Counseling and Health, and LGBTQ Recruitment & Retention Efforts. A few of their LGBTQ friendly initiatives include hate crime training for campus safety officers, a LGBTQ studies program, and trans-inclusive health care coverage.
Without gender inclusive restroom and shower facilities or a simple process through which students can change their gender identity on official documents, they have room for improvement in LGBTQ Housing & Residence Life and LGBTQ Policy Inclusion.
2. Tufts University - New England: 5 Stars
Tufts University earned a perfect score for their efforts to include LGBTQ students.They provided students with gender inclusive housing, health care options, and name and pronoun changes. Furthermore, Tufts has trained career services, campus safety, and the health center to be LGBTQ inclusive in their respective departments.
Tufts could still improve if they created LGBTQ greek life, LGBTQ scholarships, and allowed prospective students to self-identify gender on admissions forms.
3. San Diego State University – West: 4.5 Stars
San Diego State University received perfect scores in LGBTQ Academic Life, LGBTQ Student Life, LGBTQ Housing & Residential Life, and LGBTQ Campus Safety. Among other things, they provide free HIV/STI testing, gender inclusive housing and bathrooms, and LGBTQ Greek Life.
Unfortunately, San Diego State University still has some work to do in regards to trans students. They do not have an option for a student to self-identify their gender on college documents or admissions forms and they do not offer a trans-inclusive health insurance that covers counseling and hormone replacement therapy.
4. Williams College - New England: 4.5 Stars
Williams College does its best work to include LGBTQ students in the areas of Support & Institutional Commitment, Student Life, and Campus Safety. They have a resource center and paid staff focused on LGBTQ students, student clubs, events and educational opportunities to learn more about LGBTQ issues, and they have comprehensive training packages for their campus safety officers on sexual orientation and gender identity.
They were weakest in their recruitment efforts and housing options. They provide no LGBTQ student scholarships and do not attend LGBTQ admissions fairs yearly. Additionally, they do not allow first year students to live in gender inclusive housing and they have no LGBTQ friendly roommate matching process.
5. Elon University – South: 4.5 Stars
Elon University is one of the only schools in the South on this list. Campus Pride gave them the highest ratings on LGBTQ Student Life, LGBTQ Campus Safety, and LGBTQ Recruitment & Retention Rates due to their LGBTQ-inclusive career services, training of campus officers on LGBTQ sensitive crimes, and their LGBTQ graduation celebration, among other policies.
They received their lowest score on LGBTQ Counseling and Health since they do not offer LGBTQ counseling, support groups, or trans-inclusive health coverage for hormone replacement therapy. They also do not allow LGBTQ students to match with LGBTQ friendly roommates or trans students to change their gender identity on college documents.
6. Cornell University - Mid Atlantic: 4.5 Stars
Cornell is part of the Ivy League, but it is also extremely LGBTQ friendly in areas of Student Life, Campus Safety, and Counseling & Health. They have LGBTQ clubs and organizations for the undergraduate and graduate students, they have a strong procedure for reporting bias incidents or hate crimes, and they have counseling staff trained to be trans-inclusive.
Although they received a great rating, they still need to improve in a few areas, particularly Housing & Residential Life. They do not provide a LGBTQ living space for Cornell students, they do not allow LGBTQ students to select LGBTQ friendly roommates, and they do not have gender inclusive housing for incoming first years.
7. University of Vermont – New England: 4.5 Stars
University of Vermont was given their highest rating on LGBTQ Support and Institutional Commitment, LGBTQ Campus Safety, and LGBTQ Counseling & Health. Some of their best initiatives include a paid staff focused on LGBTQ issues, support for LGBTQ victims of sexual violence and partner violence, and trans-inclusive health care.
Their Recruitment & Retention Efforts, however, were their weakest area. They don’t offer any LGBTQ student scholarships or LGBTQ mentoring programs that can help students adjust to college. They also do not provide students the ability to self-identify gender on college documents or admissions forms.
8. University of Wisconsin - Green Bay – Midwest: 4.5 Stars
This Midwest University earned perfect marks in LGBTQ Student Life, LGBTQ Housing & Residence Life, and LGBTQ Campus Safety with events on LGBTQ identities, gender inclusive housing and bathrooms, and active training on hate crimes.
Like Elon University, when it comes to health for LGBTQ students, University of Wisconsin can improve considering they do not provide LGBTQ counseling, support groups, or trans-inclusive health care for either counseling or hormone replacement therapy.
9. Princeton University - Mid Atlantic: 4.5 Stars
According to Forbes, Princeton University is ranked #4 among colleges in the nation and they also made it on Campus Pride's top twenty five list of LGBTQ friendly schools for their excellent initiatives meant to entice LGBTQ students to their campus, their resource center which focuses specifically on LGBTQ issues, and their active training on hate crimes.
However, Princeton got their lowest ratings in Academic Life because they do not offer training opportunities for faculty on sexuality or gender identity issues. Additionally, they do not provide students with gender inclusive restrooms or shower rooms.
10. University of Louisville - South: 4.5 Stars
Along with Elon University, University of Louisville is one of the only schools in the South listed. They have LGBTQ inclusive career services, LGBTQ clubs at the undergraduate and graduate level, trans-inclusive health center staff, trans-inclusive health care, and free and anonymous HIV/STI testing which earned them high scores in Student Life and Counseling & Health.
Despite the 4.5 rating, there is much to improve for University of Louisville. They have yet to allow students to change their gender identity on official college documents, they do not have gender-inclusive housing options, and they do not train campus safety on sexual orientation or gender identity issues.
These are the other 15 colleges which made it on to the list: