If you are applying to college and are also a part of the LGBTQ community, you may have additional concerns about selecting an appropriate school. You may even be worried about the acceptance of your identity or gender expression.
There are a multitude of U.S. universities that claim to have LGBTQ pride, and even advertise that they are accepting of students of different sexual orientations. Many of these schools may even have LGBTQ clubs, events, and courses. But which schools have the most supportive communities? If you want a college experience where you feel free to be yourself and engage with a robust queer community, you will want to identify the most accepting college campuses.
So, what should you look for when trying to identify an LGBTQ-friendly school?
The first document that you should check when considering enrolling at a university is their non-discrimination policy. You want to be sure that your identity will be protected on campus, and any school to which you apply should have thorough non-discrimination policies in place which explicitly aim to protect LGBTQ students. Additionally, research campus safety policies to be sure that the guidelines are not only comprehensive, but that campus safety officers are provided with the appropriate information and training to protect LGBTQ students.
One easy way to identify an accepting and welcoming campus is if the school has gender inclusive restrooms and housing options. If your school makes sure to offer support for students who need access to gender inclusive spaces, it is likely that they will be supportive of students of various identities.
Read the school course catalog to see if there are specific academic options for LBGTQ classes and majors. According to GLSEN students who attend schools with an inclusive curriculum have improved academic outcomes. If there are classes tailored to the LGBTQ community, this is likely indicative of a queer friendly campus. Some universities have unique course options. NYU has a class about Queer Politics and Performance, the University of New Hampshire has a Gay & Lesbian History seminar, and Hunter College has a Transgender Poetry course. Simply having these options available is meaningful, and taking these classes may also provide a way to meet people of similar backgrounds and interests.
Look at a list of campus clubs and activities exclusively for the LGBTQ community. Do they have an LGBTQ alliance, organization, or student group? If possible, try to talk to other queer students on campus to get an idea about student life and the activity level of the queer community on campus.
Below are a few schools to consider that are noted for being LGBTQ-friendly:
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is known for having one of the oldest LGBT centers. The school’s healthcare system was named a Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equity by the Human Rights Campaign. Trans students have noted that they have options for gender neutral housing and bathrooms.
Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis is known for hosting an annual retreat for LGBTQ students called Destination Q. This retreat allows students to work on identity expression and leadership skills, among other activities. They also provide specific career connections for LGBT students connecting them to other LGBT identifying professionals in their chosen fields..
University of Maryland – College Park
The University of Maryland- College Park welcomes LGBT students to campus with a host of activities. Queer students can participate in a program tailored for first year students that hosts a weekend long meetup to interact with other LGBTQ students arriving to campus. The school also offers LGBTQ-inclusive Greek life, a queer D&D group, and weekly discussions for queer students.
There are a variety of schools that offer welcoming programs for their queer students. If you are still searching for a school and you have not found one that meets all of your criteria, don’t give up or settle for less than you deserve. Make a list of your needs, and make sure that they will be met. You can check out the campus pride index, which is a resource that has been available since 2007 to help identify LGBTQ inclusive college communities. Good luck!
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