College Guide for LGBTQ Students

For prospective college students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or queer (LGBTQ), it’s crucial to find a college with a supportive learning environment where they can thrive. Campus Pride, the predominant national nonprofit organization serving LGBTQ students, functions as a primary resource for such a search. Each year, the site provides a comprehensive listing of the most LGBTQ-friendly colleges in the nation and hosts a college fair specifically geared toward LGBTQ youths and their families.

Interviews - College Access for LGBTQ Students

To get a more personal perspective, we interviewed industry professionals who gave us their unique insight on the challenges and questions LGBTQ students may face when attending college. These experts come from a variety of fields, including mental health counseling and LGBTQ advocacy. Look for the [?] icon throughout this page to expand and read their responses.

To view our featured expert’s full profiles and interviews, click here.

In 2015, the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals joined with 25 other organizations to request that optional questions related to gender identity and sexual orientation be added to the Common Application used for admission at more than 500 colleges in the US and internationally. The data would facilitate more accurate statistics pertaining to LGBT students, and could help administrators better track their admission, retention, and graduation rates.

A 2016 survey of more than 33,000 students by the American College Health Association found that 10% identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, asexual, pansexual, or questioning. Fortunately, the growing acceptance of homosexuality in America is encouraging more students to come out before or during college. In a 2016 Pew Research poll, 57% of Americans supported same-sex-marriage while only 37% opposed it — a positive change that’s developed in recent decades. Additionally, 71% of millennials and 56% of Generation Xers who participated in the poll approved of same-sex marriage.

A 2016 survey of more than 33,000 students by the American College Health Association found that 10% identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, asexual, pansexual, or questioning.

Early in the gay rights movement, “gay” and “lesbian” served as common labels for non-heterosexuals. In the mid-to-late 1980s, the movement added the terms “bisexual” and “transgender” to create the acronym LGBT. However, this abbreviation has since expanded to LGBTQIA (“queer” or “questioning,” “intersex,” and “asexual” or “ally”). An increasing number of college campuses, resource centers, and social media sites use the seven-letter acronym in an effort to be more inclusive of all types of sexuality. Recognizing that the continuum is evolving beyond prior definitions of male/female, and that gender identity can be different from sexual orientation, we are using the abbreviation LGBTQ for the purposes of this guide. The chart below explains what each letter signifies, accounting for the fact that different organizations use “Q” for “queer” or “questioning,” and “A” for “asexual” or “ally”.

TermDefinition
Lesbian
A woman who is emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to other women. People who are lesbians need not have had any sexual experience; it is the attraction that helps determine orientation.
Gay
The adjective used to describe people who are emotionally, romantically, or physically attracted to people of the same gender (e.g., gay man, gay people). People who are gay need not have had any sexual experience; it is the attraction that helps determine orientation.
Bisexual
An individual who is emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to the same gender and different genders. It is the attraction that helps determine orientation.
Transgender
A term describing a person's gender identity that does not necessarily match their assigned sex at birth. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically to match their gender identity.
Queer
Reappropriated from its earlier negative use, the term can be inclusive of the entire community, and by others who find it to be an appropriate term to describe their more fluid identities.
Questioning
A term used to describe those who are in a process of discovery and exploration about their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or a combination thereof.
Intersex
Individuals born with ambiguous genitalia or bodies that appear neither typically male nor female, often arising from chromosomal anomalies or ambiguous genitalia.
Asexual
An individual who does not experience sexual attraction. There is considerable diversity among the asexual community; each asexual person experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently.
Ally
A term used to describe someone who does not identify as LGBTQ but who is supportive of LGBTQ individuals and the community, either personally or as an advocate.

Source: PFLAG National Glossary of Terms

What advice would you give to an LGBTQ student who is considering college?

Steve Willich Director, LGBTQ Student Resource Center,
Metropolitan State University of Denver

Go for it! This can be the most amazing time of your life, when you get to freely explore who you are and the world around you. You’re not likely to have this amount of freedom in the future, so take advantage of every opportunity presented to you, whether that be going to events put on by different organizations, attending athletic events, joining one or more student organizations, competing in intramural sports, or finding a study abroad opportunity that will open your eyes to the world. Your LGBTQ identity is just one facet of who you are, so look for opportunities outside of that one identity.

Matthew Banks Coordinator for Multicultural Programs
LGBTQ+ Student Support Services, Missouri State University

Do not feel that you have to come out in college if you are not ready. Remember, coming out is a highly personal decision to each individual. Just because someone might be very open about their identity doesn’t mean you have to be. Take it at your own pace, reach out to resources on campus, and go on your journey your way. Remember, FERPA applies as a student so talking to student affairs or counseling center employees is confidential and protected. Reach out to them if you need to talk or plan!

The transition from high school to college can prove difficult for all students, but LGBTQ students are particularly vulnerable. Before you arrive on campus, read up on federal and state anti-discrimination laws and become familiar with campus ordinances. Many larger colleges and universities have LGBTQ resource centers and/or student organizations on campus. Additionally, national and regional organizations can provide helpful information and important resources. Check with the office of the Dean of Students, the student services center, or the on-campus counseling center at your school for guidance.

Harassment

Many LGBTQ students endure teasing or bullying in high school, and they may encounter similar or worse harassment in college. A recent survey by the Association of American Universities revealed that three in four LGBT students have experienced sexual harassment at least once. Additionally, 9% of LGBT respondents were victims of sexual assault that included penetration, compared to 7% of women.

Isolation

Loneliness is a common problem for LGBTQ students away from home for the first time, particularly for those disowned by their families or those who have not yet made new friends. Enrolling at a college with a strong LGBTQ support system, including an LGBTQ Resource Center and an LGBTQ Program Director, can help combat such feelings of isolation. Networking with out LGBTQ students and faculty, participating at LGBTQ activities and events, and seeking LGBTQ-friendly venues in the local community are a few ways to initiate friendships. If feelings of isolation or depression become overwhelming, your school’s student health center or LGBT Resource Center can offer psychological counseling services.

Labels and Loss of Personal Identity

Depending on their reception on campus, LGBTQ students may feel persecuted by labels that other students place on them. Many students feel pressured to conceal their sexual orientation because of verbal threats, graffiti, or casual derogatory remarks. For many students, deciding whom to trust can be a source of stress. Getting involved in LGBTQ associations and activities on campus can help you feel more comfortable and make connections with others who can relate to your concerns.

Lack of Community and Financial Resources

Some LGBTQ students who bravely come out are disowned or rejected by their families. Qualifying for financial aid often presents an obstacle for these students, since many such applications ask questions regarding parents’ financial history or require a parent’s signature. LGBTQ students unable to find a part-time job to support themselves while in college often struggle financially, and may even become homeless. Contact the Dean of Students or an LGBTQ program director at your school for help locating scholarships, housing, and employment.

Housing Discrimination

In the 2015 U.S.Transgender Survey, 23% of respondents reported that they experienced housing discrimination because of their identification as transgender. However, as more colleges and universities expand their efforts to become LGBTQ-friendly, housing opportunities are rising commensurately. Housing directors on some campuses offer students a choice of sharing dorm space with LGBTQ roommates, living in gender-neutral housing, or settling into a nearby campus apartment.

Despite the hardships that LGBTQ students face on campus, the number of organizations offering positive support and access to valuable resources grows every year. Many universities have dedicated LGBTQ directors to help LGBTQ students qualify for financial aid, housing, and other programs that can make college not only possible, but also a positive experience.

Increasingly, colleges are acknowledging the LGBTQ presence on their campuses and prioritizing safety and inclusiveness. As you compare prospective schools, don’t hesitate to ask administrators, counselors, and students about the resources available to LGBTQ students on campus. Ideally, you want to find a campus that can feel like home, but the work to become comfortable at school starts before you even submit your first application.

If you are not out yet, or you’re questioning, an LGBTQ-friendly college could be a healthy environment for you to discover your true identity. Look for schools with websites demonstrating an active LGBTQ community that’s supported on campus. Additionally, signing up for a course in LGBTQ studies or attending a seminar at the school’s LGBTQ Resource Center could help you on your journey of self-discovery and allow you to connect with others who are struggling with similar issues.

10 Things To Look For When Searching For LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges

1. Campus Vibe

One of the best ways to evaluate a college is to visit in person. Walk around the campus and surrounding area to get a feel for the vibe and decide whether you feel safe and welcomed. Do you see rainbow pride flags hanging from campus buildings? Are there “Safe Zone” stickers anywhere? Check public bulletin boards for flyers or signs advertising LGBTQ events, clubs, and activities. Sit in on a couple of classes and talk to current students about LGBTQ life on campus.

2. LGBTQ Student Organizations

Explore the websites of potential colleges and check for student-sponsored LGBTQ organizations and activities targeted toward gender diversity on campus. Browse groups’ social media accounts and research their current issues and campaigns. If a college has a calendar brimming with appealing, gender-diverse activities, that’s a solid indicator that the environment will be LGBTQ-friendly and inclusive.

3. Out LGBTQ Students

Evaluate whether there is a strong community of out LGBTQ students at a prospective school. It may help to keep a few questions in mind: Does the school’s website feature photos of students engaged in officially chartered LGBTQ organizations and activities? Are there LGBTQ courses or majors? Does the college offer annual LGBTQ programs like Rainbow Graduation, Pride Prom, or year-round initiatives like the Safe Space Program? How about LGBTQ housing? On-campus LGBTQ organizations should be able to provide information on the number of out LGBTQ students at the school. Ask the Dean of Students or the director of the local LGBTQ Resource Center if the LGBTQ population on campus is growing, and if additional services catering to LGBTQ students are coming soon.

4. Out LGBTQ Faculty

Colleges and universities with openly out faculty or staff members tend to foster a more positive and inclusive atmosphere for LGBTQ students. Some universities are making it easier for students to locate out LGBTQ faculty members. The Out List at UC Davis allows faculty and staff who identify as LGBTQ to connect with each other and students to provide academic support and mentorship. Emory University, the University of Maryland, the University of California, San Diego, and UC Berkeley are just a few colleges with out lists posted online. LGBTQ Resource Centers on many college campuses also provide lists of out faculty members who can offer counseling or mentoring assistance to LGBTQ students.

5. Inclusion Statements and Anti-Discrimination Policies

Before applying to a school, it is important to review their student code of conduct. Many, more progressive colleges are rewriting their policies to be more inclusive of LGBTQ students. You can also study the university’s hiring practices. If a school would not hire someone identified as LGBTQ, you may not feel comfortable as a student there. Also, check a school’s website for an official denunciation of discrimination or any information specifically catering to LGBTQ students.

6. LGBTQ Resource Centers

According to the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals, there are a growing number of LGBT student centers across the country. The LGBT Resource Center map features links to more than 200 centers nationwide. As welcoming places for LGBTQ students, these centers provide invaluable support and educational services while working to make campuses and communities more LGBTQ-friendly. In particular, mental health counseling services available at these centers can provide much-needed support to LGBTQ students struggling with various issues on campus.

7. Gender-neutral Restrooms and Housing

Check a prospective college’s website for information on gender-neutral restrooms and housing. Campus Pride provides a list of colleges and universities with gender-neutral housing on or near campus. Additionally, college admissions officers may be able to provide helpful information, or you can check with the school’s housing director.

8. Off-campus LGBTQ Groups

Research off-campus local, state, and national LGBTQ groups that you might be able to use as a resource. Some national organizations have regional chapters that can provide valuable information and contacts. Try to connect with a local group that offers opportunities to socialize and network. Because these groups aren’t affiliated with particular schools, they can provide a great support system for students who are not out on campus.

9. Campus Security Offices

Developing familiarity with campus security personnel may help you feel safe. Ask for information on crimes against LGBTQ students, reports of discrimination, and what campus ordinances are in place to prohibit harassment. Be sure you know the location of security offices around campus, including blue-light emergency phones that are often in parking lots and other common areas.

10. Local Law Enforcement

Check with the local police department for information on crime rates and how they handle discrimination and harassment against LGBTQ students. Do they work closely with college security personnel? Do they work with the community to help foster public awareness about LGBTQ student safety? Are there any out LGBTQ members of the police force or the department’s staff?

What are the three most important attributes or characteristics an LGBTQ student should consider when selecting a university experience and why?

Brittany Steffen Marriage & Family Therapist

  1. Is the school visibly affirming of LGBTQ students? Are there safe space signs? Flyers advertising on campus resources for LGTBQ students? Resources on the school’s website specifically for LGBTQ issues? It’s practically standard practice for schools to post visible signs of LGTBQ support these days, so if you look and you can’t find any, that may indicate a lack of cultural fit for these students.
  2. Cultural fit is extremely important. Does the school appear to have positive attitudes about their LGTBQ students? Do these students feel supported and embraced, or merely tolerated? Tolerance is not enough. Potential students should be looking for a campus that has worked to cultivate a culture of affirmation. You may need to ask current students about the school’s culture in order to get a good read.
  3. Are there other LGBTQ students at the school? Are they out? What has their experience been like? I went to a college where I knew of 2-4 students who were open about being gay or lesbian, but I know many more who didn’t come out until after graduating. Our campus wasn’t overtly LGBTQ friendly, and I think that negatively impacted the experience of some of those students. While we had an LGTBQ club on campus, I never ended up attending. I accidentally wandered into the Young Republican’s group by mistake, and after asking if I was at the right group, being met with blank stares and laughter, I wandered off and never went back! It was kind of funny, even at the time, but it would have been nice if even one attendee had known where my group was and had pointed me in the right direction.

Dr. Darla Linville Assistant Professor,
Augusta University, College of Education

Obviously, a student needs to think about the program,major, and activities that they want to participate in at college. This is in some ways the first cut, but it is also important to find the right campus climate that will allow a student to thrive. For example, it is perhaps unwise to go to a great pre-med program at a very homophobic school, because swimming against hate will take too much energy.

I think the most important elements would be:

  1. A women’s studies/gender studies/gender and sexuality studies/queer studies department or program. The faculty in these programs have a lot of knowledge and background in talking about sexuality and gender issues in complicated and sophisticated ways, and they know how oppression against LGBTQ+ people manifests, and how to access services and language to combat that oppression. This is the place that students (no matter their identity) can come to get immersed in the discussions of sexuality and gender in our culture and get a better understanding of how these systems work to order and regulate all of us.
  2. A student support and activist group for LGBTQ+ students. This is a critical mass (even if the group is small) of people who can rally to support an LGBTQ+ student. This is not to say that there are not differences within these groups (racism, religious divisions, class issues) that can be divisive and exclusionary to students, but more and more students arrive in these groups with an understanding of intersectionality and how identities, privileges, and oppressions intersect. Students can ally with faculty in gender studies to advance the intersectional conversation if it is not already happening. These groups often ally with other groups on campus to create a broad base of knowledge and activism against various oppressions.
  3. Policies and programs that explicitly provide support and access for LGBTQ+ students and faculty. These should provide gender neutral bathrooms and allow students to be housed in the correct dorm. They should also offer protections if a student experiences harassment, and a formal procedure through which to file a complaint. They will insure that someone on campus is available to respond to LGBTQ+ student needs.

Religious Colleges

Often, LGBTQ students are wary of religious schools that embrace conservative ideals, fearing discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. However, some deeply religious LGBTQ students, including those who have not come out, may feel pressure from family and friends to attend a religious college. Additionally, some may wish to pursue an area of study available only at a particular school. Still others may simply want to continue their education in a setting affiliated with their religion.

Some religious colleges officially condemn behavior that doesn’t conform to heterosexual norms but permit gender-diverse student groups. Safety Net, a nonprofit organization founded in 2011, fosters communication between LGBTQ students, faculty, staff, and alumni at more than 75 evangelical Christian colleges. Additionally, Safety Net helps students find information on gay-straight alliances (GSAs) affiliated with their schools, and can provide assistance to anyone who wants to start such a group.

If you’re still unsure about attending a religious college, research the student code of conduct at a school you’re considering. Ask yourself whether you’d be comfortable signing a contract signifying your agreement with the statements it contains. Also, review the university’s hiring practices; if a school would not hire someone who identifies as LGBTQ, would you want to attend classes there? Find out if the school has filed for an exemption to Title IX that would permit them to discriminate on the basis of sex in hiring, admissions, etc. based on adherence to their religious doctrine or moral code.

What advice do you have for students who may want to attend a traditionally conservative or religiously affiliated college?

Brittany Steffen Marriage & Family Therapist

Many religious schools are currently working to provide a more positive experience for LGTBQ students. Overall, societal attitudes towards LGBTQ rights in America are trending positively, and even conservative schools are paying attention. These days, many prospective students, while not LGBTQ themselves, have close relationships with someone who is LGBTQ and consider themselves allies. Religious or conservative schools will soon find themselves at a disadvantage if they continue to neglect this population. It may be worth it to find out where in the stages of change is your prospective religious or conservative collage.

That being said, with all of the options out there, if you’re LGBTQ, it’s worth it to pick a school, whether it’s liberal, religious, or conservative, that will provide you a positive and affirming experience. For most of us, college is a once in a lifetime experience. Self exploration, friendships, and dating are an important part of the educational package you’re purchasing. Pick a school that will allow you to make the most of it!

Emma Naliboff Pettit Program Director,
Sustained Dialogue Campus Network

Everyone’s identities are made up of many different pieces, and each of them matter. Being LGBTQ doesn’t trump anything else, but it can bring physical safety concerns that you need to take seriously.

My main advice is this: Even very conservative campuses sometimes have vibrant LGBTQ communities. Talk to current students to find out, because that’s a huge deal. Ask them: “Are people out here? Is there a supportive community of LGBTQ people that are welcomed by the administration? Do you feel safe walking around campus at night? How regularly do people yell slurs? Are there staff or faculty mentors who are out?” Some places are unexpectedly supportive of LGBTQ students – do your research, but make sure you’re setting yourself up for a safe and happy experience where you can be exactly who you want to be.

Religion-wise, check in about the specific policies. Some campuses are a little tricky and say that you’re free to identify as LGBTQ,but you can’t have sex with anyone of your same gender. Look closely and learn about what happens if you violate that rule. You’re less likely to have out faculty and staff to mentor and support you. If you’re transgender or nonbinary, odds are you won’t find gender-neutral housing or bathrooms, and it may be hard to change your name or documents. Your student health insurance may not cover hormones or surgery. Ask about your options, and make sure that you’re staying safe – if every professor won’t call you by your name and pronouns and you may be denied a medical transition, that emotional toll can be extensive. Factor that into your decision.

Other Things To Consider

As an LGBTQ student, you need to evaluate not only the campus climate but also the city and region surrounding the college. Will you be able to enjoy your leisure time? Is the town a place you might want to live after you graduate?

Arts and Recreation

Are there opportunities to enjoy art galleries, museums, concerts, and theater? Does the town have a movie theater, shopping mall, or recreational venues like bowling alleys, arcades, or amusement parks? Are there public facilities like golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, hiking trails, lakes, or state/national parks nearby?

Healthcare

Check on the availability of healthcare facilities both on and near campus, including hospitals, medical offices, dentists, chiropractors, and urgent care clinics. Some universities and medical facilities offer programs specifically catering to LGBTQ patients. Many offer confidential counseling, HIV/STI screenings, and other health services. Philadelphia’s Mazzoni Center, for example, has been providing health and wellness services to the LGBTQ community since 1979. GLMA (Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, previously known as the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association) offers an online directory of healthcare providers for LGBT individuals.

Events and Festivals

Research whether the local community hosts annual Pride Alliance events or other festivals that promote gender diversity and/or welcome participation from LGBTQ participants and volunteers.

Nightlife

Does the town feature bars or restaurants that are popular with gay and lesbian patrons? Having a conversation with current students can help you find LGBTQ-friendly venues.

Local Economy and Lifestyle

Would you feel comfortable attending community events, or is the area’s environment too conservative? The local Chamber of Commerce can provide information on job growth prospects, top employers, housing, regional resources, and more.

How important are the community and civic attitude (where the university is located) towards LGBTQ students when selecting a college to attend?

Tiffany Delaney, MA.Ed Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion,
Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont

These are extremely important! Use the internet to search for LGBTQ organizations in the communities you are interested in. When exploring, look at the breadth and depth of the types of organizations in the surrounding community. Do these organizations have ongoing collaborations with the school you are considering? How visible are these organizations? Are there regularly scheduled events (Pride Parades, LGBT History Month celebrations, etc). These organizations can be a great source of information on what a geographical area is like, as well as providing tips on resources for living in the area in which the school is located. Students can also search online for a list of cities and counties in the United States that offer LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinances.

Matthew Banks Coordinator for Multicultural Programs
LGBTQ+ Student Support Services, Missouri State University

I think it highly depends on the student and what they want out of their college experience. For some students, going to college on a campus that is highly accepting of LGBTQ identified individuals but is in a town that is less accepting is okay. For others, they would need to be in a city with an equal rights ordinance that prevents discrimination based on gender and sexual identity. Another thing to take into account is that sexual orientation or gender might not be the salient identity for the LGBTQ identified student. For students who are also first generation, being close to home or family might be more important. For students working to support their family, flexible class schedules and financial aid might be the strongest consideration. Basically, location can be important for a student. But it shouldn’t be assumed to be the most important or the only consideration an LGBTQ+ student has when applying to college.

A growing number of colleges inquire about sexual orientation on their applications. Whether you choose to be open about your sexuality during the application process is something only you can decide. You may decide to disclose such information when applying to schools that are LGBT-friendly but withhold it from those that you fear might not accept you on that basis. In some cases, identifying yourself as LGBTQ could open doors to scholarships or diversity grants that might not be otherwise available to you. Applying to college is a bit trickier for LGBT students who have not come out to their families. In such situations, the Human Rights Campaign advises applicants to avoid stating their LGBT status in writing and come out to an admissions officer on the phone or in person.

How should a student, who might not be out to their families yet, navigate finding colleges that feature inclusive environments, or apply for LGBTQ scholarships?

Steve Willich Director, LGBTQ Student Resource Center,
Metropolitan State University of Denver

A lot of that might depend on how closely their parents monitor their activities. Are they checking your emails? Your browser histories? If so, you might consider searching for that information at school, where you are much less likely to be discovered. Check out the Campus Pride Index, which rates the inclusiveness of colleges and universities on a large number of factors. Do the students have another place where mail can be securely delivered, like a close friend or a school counselor? It’s not pleasant to think about, but you need to consider the reaction of your parents when you do come out to them. Will they cut you off financially, or kick you out of their home? If so, what other support networks do you have in place?

Matthew Banks Coordinator for Multicultural Programs
LGBTQ+ Student Support Services, Missouri State University

Know your rights. The Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) means that once you are 18, your family has no legal right or authority to any of your educational information. This includes financial aid at your university. As such, there are steps you can take to make sure you are protected if need be. Make sure that your passwords, PINs, IDs, and emails are secured and your family doesn’t have access to the information. Furthermore, update all mailing addresses with the university to a local address, like your apartment or residence hall. When applying for outside aid, contact the scholarships and let them know your situation if you are afraid of being outed. Then make sure you use that same local address.

When thinking about inclusive environments, look at other reasons you might want to attend that university. Do they have a strong academic program that you are interested in? Are there chances for internships and professional development? Can you get involved in student organizations or campus recreation? If you need to convince your family of the university, these are good facts to know when having that conversation.

As the number of openly LGBTQ students on college campuses increases, institutions of higher learning around the country are working to foster welcoming environments that serve the community’s particular needs and interests. Many schools feature on-campus resources, like counseling services, gender-neutral housing, and interactive workshops, to protect and promote the physical and emotional well-being of LGBT students.

American University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, for example, offers a peer advising and conversations program open to current and prospective LGBTQ students. Additionally, Penn State’s LGBTQA Student Resource Center publishes student testimonials discussing how the center helped them adjust to college and cope with difficult issues.

What opportunities for student life and community are available to new LGBTQ college students?

Dr. Darla Linville Assistant Professor,
Augusta University, College of Education

Most campuses are much more welcoming than they once were for LGBTQ+ students. For example, many campuses have student organizations that are specifically focused on LGBTQ+ students. A prospective student can find them by searching the university or college website, or by looking for a diversity initiative on campus. If this information is prominently located it may demonstrate that the college or university is making it a priority to welcome LGBTQ+ students to their campus.

There are also various guides that rate different campuses on their openness to LGBTQ+ students. Start with our LGBT guide or Campus Pride and look at what they are measuring. The prospective student should examine the elements of campus life that the guides measure to determine if they are similar to things that a student is looking for on campus.

Many campuses are working to make all elements of student life welcoming to LGBTQ+ students, including athletics, housing, and fraternities and sororities. National organizations such as the NCAA (athletics) have urged programs to increase awareness among athletes about sexism, heterosexism, and cissexism, and to facilitate a more welcoming space for queer and trans students.

If a student is interested in participating in a specific element of student life (theater, music, sports, Greek life, student government), meeting students involved in those things at the specific campus is a good way to judge how welcoming the group will be.

Emma Naliboff Pettit Program Director,
Sustained Dialogue Campus Network

There are so many! They vary school by school, but here are some great things to look forward to (or, help create when you get there): gender neutral housing and bathrooms; student groups for LGBTQ students – maybe even a couple of them for different sets of people; student groups that support other kinds of diversity and inclusion; multicultural student centers and/or LGBTQ student centers and the great staff who work in them; connections with faculty and staff – both those that are LGBTQ and those that aren’t; mental health support if you need someone to talk to; sustained dialogue groups that hit many topics and give you the chance to learn deeply from others; gender studies or sexuality studies courses, majors, and minors; friends who are amazing; great humans to date.

Most students receive contact information for their new roommate before they move in, so you might want to reach out through email or on the phone before you move in together. You will have to decide if you want to discuss sexual orientation before or after you meet. The key to a good relationship with any roommate is communication. Be respectful of each other’s boundaries and try to explore common interests.

A college’s athletic department can be one of the least LGBTQ-friendly places on campus. Thanks to the efforts of national LGBTQ organizations and new policies implemented at more progressive schools, an increasing number of collegiate athletic departments have become accepting and inclusive of gender diversity. A nonprofit organization, Athlete Ally promotes public awareness about LGBT issues through educational programming and workshops at colleges and high schools. The organization also works with major sports organizations like the NFL, NBA, and NCAA to enhance player awareness and sensitivity. Additionally, Berkeley’s Gender Equity Resource Center provides a comprehensive list of LGBTQ Resources in Athletics.

If you find yourself facing a difficult situation or issue on campus stemming from your identification as LGBTQ, seek recourse at your school’s student counseling center. There, you can report specific incidents; receive confidential individual, couple, or group mental health counseling services; and join support groups where you can discuss LGBTQ issues with other empathetic students. Additionally, you might want to check out legal services available at your school; often, colleges have licensed attorneys on staff to provide limited counsel and representation for students. If you fear for your safety, contact campus security personnel as soon as possible.

What are the ways a college should support LGBTQ students? Where can students go for help if an issue does arise?

Dr. Darla Linville Assistant Professor,
Augusta University, College of Education

Colleges can support LGBTQ+ students by creating policy language that is specifically inclusive or LGBTQ+ students,faculty, and staff. Creating advocacy offices, such as a Sexuality and Gender Resource Center, on campus creates a central site for organizing and advocating for support and resources. Students, faculty, and the community understand that the priorities of the university generally have institutional funding, so a resource center or an office of diversity and inclusion, with administrative personnel in these offices, shows a commitment. These visible and inhabitable spaces demonstrate to students that there is someplace to go if they do need support or assistance.

Colleges and universities should provide Safe Zone and other training to faculty and staff so they are aware of the needs of LGBTQ+ students. These trainings offer signage and stickers that allow faculty and staff to designate areas as welcoming of LGBTQ+ people.

If an issue arises, Title IX coordinators are often the first stop to address harassment, assault, or to request an intervention. Under the Office of Civil Rights guidance, Title IX coordinators have latitude to investigate harassment based on gender, gender identity, and gender expression. In many cases, harassment of LGBTQ+ students stems from gendered harassment and Title IX coordinators are able to address it.

Emma Naliboff Pettit Program Director,
Sustained Dialogue Campus Network

Colleges should:

  • Have an easy way for students to change their name and gender on record, and offer gender-neutral housing and bathrooms.
  • Offer LGBTQ trainings to students, faculty, and staff to increase cultural competency.
  • Support their LGBTQ staff and faculty, and monitor that diversity.
  • Run dialogue groups that help all people better understand and support each other.
  • Don’t consider these as “issues for the LGBTQ students.” Think of them as issues for the campus.

If you have a problem, take it to the LGBTQ student group and that group’s advisor. Take it to the top of the diversity/inclusion food chain, which may be someone in the multicultural student center, diversity/inclusion office, or a chief diversity officer. Students often feel more connected to faculty, but staff are likely the strongest option (unless you have an LGBTQ faculty mentor – go hang out with that person, they’ll make you feel better).

Organizations and Resources for LGBTQ Students

If your school lacks an LGBTQ Resource Center, you may be able to find one locally or online. Getting involved in the center’s network can help you learn about your rights and how to combat discriminatory behavior on campus and in your community.

Campus Pride

Campus Pride supports LGBTQ student organizations as they work toward a society free of bigotry and hate. The group effects change by developing student networks and offering useful online resources, including a ranking of LGBTQ-friendly colleges.

Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA)

The GSA Network trains LGBTQ students and youth leaders to foster safe and healthy schools and communities. These student-run clubs provide a place where LGBTQ and straight students can support each other, socialize, and enhance gender diversity.

Gay and Lesbian Advocates And Defenders (GLAAD)

Since 1978,GLAAD has fought for legal equality for the LGBTQ community and those living with AIDS. The organization strives to build a society free of discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, HIV status, and sexual orientation.

Trevor Project

Founded in 1988 by the creators of the Academy Award winning film “Trevor,” the Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth from ages 13-24. The group offers education, resources, and supportive counseling to kids and young adults who need help.

Safety Net

Safety Net fosters conversation between LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff at religious colleges, universities, and seminaries. The organization also helps students find GSAs near their schools. If no GSA exists in your community, Safety Net can help you start a new group.

Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

An organization for students, parents, and teachers alike, GLSEN helps create safe school environments for LGBTQ students. Additionally, the group promotes projects like Day of Silence and Ally Week, and founds GSAs in local communities.

Out for Work

Assisting LGBTQ college graduates in their transition from academia to the workplace, Out for Work helps students find work and internships while they are still in school and after graduation.

Trans Student Educational Resources (TSER)

A youth-run organization,TSER works to foster more trans-friendly environments in schools.

Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN)

The world’s largest online asexual community, AVEN supports students who identify as asexual. The site features an impressive collection of resources on the topic.

BiNet USA

America’s largest national organization devoted to bisexual awareness, BiNet oversees a network of independent bisexual and bi-friendly communities. Beyond condemning discrimination and promoting anti-discriminatory policies, the organization distributes educational information on sexual orientation.

Human Rights Campaign

The largest civil rights organization in the U.S., HRC strives to achieve LGBTQ equality. Boasting more than 1.5 million members and supporters, HRC works to end discrimination, secure equal rights, and protect the health and safety of LGBTQ individuals.

Point Foundation

Point Foundation serves as the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBTQ students, providing scholarship funding, mentorship, leadership training, and community service opportunities.

Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals

A member-based organization, the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals seeks to make college campuses a safer and more welcoming place for LGBTQ students.

How to Start Your Own LGBTQ Organization

Starting a new GSA or LGBT resource center is a significant project that requires intensive research and support from others. The first step is to recruit other LGBTQ students, allies, and faculty members for a committee or task force. One of the biggest challenges you’ll face is enlisting the cooperation of a university official who will support your group.

Prepare a presentation on why the college needs an LGBTQ center. Campus Pride Index is a good source of information on campus assessments. Your presentation might include statistics on the growing number of LGBTQ students on campus, testimonials from LGBTQ students who have experienced harassment, and input from victims of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Providing examples of other colleges with successful LGBTQ resource centers and informatoin on the services they offer will give university officials a better idea of what you are trying to accomplish and why.

The National Consortium of LGBT Directors in Higher Education offers advice on starting an LGBTQ resource center, including information on staffing and funding programs. Penn State’s LGBTQArchitect provides sample documents, presentations, and resources that you can access and modify as you start your own resource center. If you cannot procure the support of the university, you can form an unofficial GSA off campus. GSA Network and Safety Net are great resources with lots of helpful information for starting an off-campus group

PFLAG, Out Proud Families, and Campus Pride are three organizations that offer educational resources to help friends and families support LGBTQ students. When a friend or family member comes out to you, it’s important to let them know that you admire their courage and that you respect their privacy. LGBTQ youth often fear rejection; it’s crucial to reassure your friend or family member that coming out will not harm your relationship. Be available to listen and discuss sensitive issues, but don’t be judgmental or treat them any differently. Encourage any out LGBTQ friends or family members to reach out to others at an LGBTQ resource center, or help them find relevant resources online.

What are some of the ways family and friends can support LGBTQ students during this time of transition?

Brittany Steffen Marriage & Family Therapist

Big transitions can be super stressful and scary. It’s a time when students need support from family and friends more so than ever. As a therapist, I sometimes work with graduating seniors who are feeling the grief and loss of this transition, at a time when they may be feeling pressure to be excited about graduating and starting college. Meet them where they’re at. Ask about their worries and fears.

If as a parent or friend you’ve been working to come to terms with their LGTBQ identity, now is the time to step up. When they go off to school they will meet people who are supportive, and you may find that those positive experiences reflect negatively on your relationship with them. Get with the program if you want to continue your relationship with them, seek resources in the form of books, support groups, and/or therapy.

Tiffany Delaney, MA.Ed Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion,
Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont

Family and friends can be the first and most important line of support for LGBTQ students. Providing open and unconditional support to the student is one of the best ways to help ease this transition. Family members and friends should continually educate themselves about issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people and serve as a visible ally/advocate. If a student does not have a supportive immediate family, extended family and friends can help fill in the gap. Keeping an open line of communication with the student and inquiring about their experiences at school can be a help.

Organizations and Resources for Friends and Family of LGBTQ People

PFLAG

An organization for LGBTQ individuals and their families and allies, PFLAG offers a variety of resources to promote equality. In addition to information on local chapters and upcoming events, the site features free downloadable pamphlets on relevant topics, like advocacy and inclusion. Additionally, the website includes links to LGBTQ-friendly faith communities and scholarship resources.

Gay and Lesbian Guide to College Life

Published by the Princeton Review, the Gay and Lesbian Guide to College Life is a comprehensive handbook featuring listings of LGBT-friendly campuses and profiles on the surrounding communities. With information gathered from surveys of students and administrators at more than 70 colleges, the guide offers tips on everything from researching school policies to responding to discrimination.

Outproud Families

Out Proud Families provides education and counseling services to encourage families to become more supportive of LGBTQ youth. The website features a blog, information on workshops, reports, guides, and other resources. Laurin Mayeno also shares narratives from her journey with her gay son on the site through her “Proud Mom” videos.

Campus Pride

This site has a ranking of LGBTQ-friendly colleges and includes a searchable map by state. As one of the top educational resources for LGBTQ students, the Campus Pride website features lists of programs and services catering to LGBTQ students, including college fairs, workshops, and events.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

The nation’s largest civil rights organization, the HRC works on a variety of initiatives to promote equality for the LGBTQ community. The website features articles relevant to LGBTQ youth and their parents, in addition to information on resources available in each state.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

The ACLU has handled more LGBTQ lawsuits than any other national organization. ACLU leaders fight for advocacy initiatives and keep the public and media informed about contemporary issues. The website serves as a good resource for LGBTQ students seeking help with discrimination complaints.

Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Network

The GSA Network urges students dealing with discrimination to call for assistance. Additionally, the site offers guidance on how to talk to school administrators about LGBT issues and how to file a discrimination or harassment complaint at your college or university.

Lambda Legal

Lambda Legal specializes in legal issues of transgender students. The website provides information on transgender rights, along with resources to help students handle campus challenges and advocate for more gender-inclusive policies. An online legal help desk answers questions at no charge.

Before beginning classes at a college or university, LGBTQ students should know their legal rights. In the event that you become a victim of discrimination or harassment, you will be better prepared to protect yourself with knowledge of the laws and protections on your side. In 2009, the Matthew Shepard Act expanded the definition of hate crimes to include those based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that forbids discrimination, including sexual harassment, rape, and sexual assault, in education programs and activities that receive federal funding. Under the provisions of Title IX, a college receiving federal funds can be held legally responsible for monetary damages if the institution knew about and ignored sexual harassment or discrimination (whether it was the act of a student, staff, or faculty member).

The HRC has identified 56 colleges in 26 states that requested exemptions from Title IX by claiming it conflicts with their religious doctrines or religious-based moral codes. With its report Hidden Discrimination: Title IX Religious Exemptions Putting LGBT Students at Risk, the HRC seeks to increase the accountability of schools requesting exemptions and to make sure LGBTQ students do not enroll in a university with discriminatory policies.

Additionally, a growing number of states have laws that protect LGBTQ individuals from sexual discrimination and bullying. Lambda Legal offers a guide with information on legal protections available to LGBTQ individuals in each state. The Equality Federation’s Movement Advancement Project (MAP) also provides data on state LGBTQ laws and listings of cities and counties with anti-discrimination ordinances.

Students experiencing discrimination at college may file an internal appeal. It is advisable to seek help from a lawyer, the local legal aid society, or a national organization specializing in LGBTQ legal issues. Students also have the right to file a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Title IX protects students at schools that receive federal funding from sex discrimination in admissions, housing, recruitment, athletics, financial assistance, and counseling services. Check out this list of local, state, and national LGBT organizations and groups that specialize in discrimination cases.

Scholarships established for LGBTQ college students are available from several organizations, both through specific schools as well as private groups. Some welcome all LGBTQ applicants, while others may focus on specific subgroups. To learn more about scholarships available for LGBT students, visit our detailed guide to LGBTQ Scholarships.

Dr. Darla Linville; Assistant Professor

Dr. Darla Linville is an educational researcher with 20 years of experience advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and questioning youth. She has conducted participatory action research in collaboration with youth in New York City, Maine, and Georgia. In her research with, and about, LGBTQ+ young people, she has unearthed tensions and contestations about queer and gender nonconforming bodies in schools. The findings in her work have reshaped discourses about queer youth identities. Currently she is researching the application of anti-bullying legislation in school settings and its effectiveness in combating the most prevalent harassment students experience. She has several publications about her work with LGBTQ+ youth and their needs in communities and schools.

1. What opportunities for student life and community are available to new LGBTQ college students?

Most campuses are much more welcoming than they once were for LGBTQ+ students. For example, many campuses have student organizations that are specifically focused on LGBTQ+ students. A prospective student can find them by searching the university or college website, or by looking for a diversity initiative on campus. If this information is prominently located it may demonstrate that the college or university is making it a priority to welcome LGBTQ+ students to their campus.

There are also various guides that rate different campuses on their openness to LGBTQ+ students. Start with our Best Colleges for LGBT Students ranking or Campus Pride and look at what they are measuring. The prospective student should examine the elements of campus life that the guides measure to determine if they are similar to things that a student is looking for on campus.

Many campuses are working to make all elements of student life welcoming to LGBTQ+ students, including athletics, housing, and fraternities and sororities. National organizations such as the NCAA (athletics) have urged programs to increase awareness among athletes about sexism, heterosexism, and cissexism, and to facilitate a more welcoming space for queer and trans students.

If a student is interested in participating in a specific element of student life (theater, music, sports, Greek life, student government), meeting students involved in those things at the specific campus is a good way to judge how welcoming the group will be.

2. What are the three most important attributes or characteristics an LGBTQ student should consider when selecting a university experience and why?

Obviously, a student needs to think about the program,major, and activities that they want to participate in at college. This is in some ways the first cut, but it is also important to find the right campus climate that will allow a student to thrive. For example, it is perhaps unwise to go to a great pre-med program at a very homophobic school, because swimming against hate will take too much energy.

I think the most important elements would be:

  1. A women’s studies/gender studies/gender and sexuality studies/queer studies department or program. The faculty in these programs have a lot of knowledge and background in talking about sexuality and gender issues in complicated and sophisticated ways, and they know how oppression against LGBTQ+ people manifests, and how to access services and language to combat that oppression. This is the place that students (no matter their identity) can come to get immersed in the discussions of sexuality and gender in our culture and get a better understanding of how these systems work to order and regulate all of us.
  2. A student support and activist group for LGBTQ+ students. This is a critical mass (even if the group is small) of people who can rally to support an LGBTQ+ student. This is not to say that there are not differences within these groups (racism, religious divisions, class issues) that can be divisive and exclusionary to students, but more and more students arrive in these groups with an understanding of intersectionality and how identities, privileges, and oppressions intersect. Students can ally with faculty in gender studies to advance the intersectional conversation if it is not already happening. These groups often ally with other groups on campus to create a broad base of knowledge and activism against various oppressions.
  3. Policies and programs that explicitly provide support and access for LGBTQ+ students and faculty. These should provide gender neutral bathrooms and allow students to be housed in the correct dorm. They should also offer protections if a student experiences harassment, and a formal procedure through which to file a complaint. They will insure that someone on campus is available to respond to LGBTQ+ student needs.

3. How important are the community and civic attitude (where the university is located) towards LGBTQ students when selecting a college to attend?

This is somewhat important and depends on the student’s own interests and desires. If a town is not welcoming to LGBTQ+ people, there may be a limited number of social events off campus that a student would feel comfortable attending. If the student is often identified as LGBTQ+ by strangers, this visibility may feel like a vulnerability in a very heterosexist and homophobic city or town. Although the campus may be a haven, if the student does not feel safe or comfortable in the community, the campus may not be enough. A more welcoming community would probably be an asset when looking for a college or university. However, it should be noted that sometimes large cities with bigger LGBTQ+ populations have more overt violence against queer and trans people, because there is more of an awareness of where to find LGBTQ+ people. Small or more conservative towns may take more of a don’t ask/don’t tell attitude. There is clearly no definitive answer, and personal preference will help a student decide.

4. What advice would you give to an LGBTQ student who is considering college?

College can be, for many students not just LGBTQ+, a great place to join a new community that has some different ideas from the ones they grew up with, to encounter a wider variety of people, and to continue the process that they have begun in middle and high school of defining who they are and what they think is important. For LGBTQ+ students, if they have encountered negative ideas about their sexuality or gender identity or expression, college can be a place where they formulate new definitions and new ways of thinking about their identities that are positive. For almost all students, college is a time to navigate dating and possibly sex, and being in a place with thousands of peers is a great place to meet, flirt, and hook up. These social reasons should accompany your academic goals and plans for the future.

Any student should make sure the campus seems to have spaces where they can “fit” when they get to college, such as groups, programs, and majors. Also, any student should know that many students change their mind about their choice of college, and end up attending a different school or taking some time away from college. There are many reasons for this, and students can recover from missteps or poor choices, as well as hostile environments and mental health issues.

5. What are some of the ways family and friends can support LGBTQ students during this time of transition?

Family and friends can support the student as they evaluate the queer and trans resources at their prospective colleges. Allies may help by searching online for information or attending campus visits with the student and asking questions or looking around for visible signs of queer and trans inclusion. Supporting students to consider these elements can be very helpful as they think about what makes one campus stand out over another. Also, putting prospective students in touch with personal contacts at the college is very helpful, if that is something that is available. The inside view of the campus climate is often more nuanced and specific than the public image, although the public image can tell a lot about the college.

Also, family and friends can listen supportively to students who may want to discuss their decisions about being out on campus, and where and with whom. Giving the student a place to process these decisions and understand the importance of the decision to be out in a new community may help the student prepare for a variety of responses or situations.

6. How should a student, who might not be out to their families yet, navigate finding colleges that feature inclusive environments, or apply for LGBTQ scholarships?

Probably most students who are not yet out to their families have strategies that evade the issues of sexuality and gender identity in their discussions about where they are going and why. For a discussion about a college, a student might have several priorities that contribute to the ranking of one campus over another, and these various elements offer arguments for or against a college. Coming up with a strong list that shows why one campus, or why not another, will help a student to convince a parent that the student is serious about considering the merits of the school, without discussion of the LGBTQ+ inclusiveness of the campus community.

Scholarships may be named for a person or organization that a parent might not readily recognize as LGBTQ+, but if the parent searches for the qualifications for the scholarship it may become obvious that the student is looking at LGBTQ+ scholarships. In these cases, students may need to be circumspect about what they are applying for, seek help from school counselors if they can be trusted not to out the student to the parent, and deflect attention by keeping two lists of scholarships. If the student gets a scholarship, the parent may be required to sign or otherwise be brought into the conversation, so thinking through the process before applying is a good idea. The student should evaluate what they are willing to do if they receive the funding, and what it might mean for their situation.

7. What advice do you have for students who may want to attend a traditionally conservative or religiously affiliated college?

Students wishing to attend colleges or universities that have a student code of conduct or morality statement that prohibit same-sex relationships, or that refuse to hire people within same-sex relationships, should make sure they have read these statements and can agree with them before registering to attend. Many liberal arts colleges and universities have religious histories that may provide a foundation for a student looking for religious education without attending a more conservative campus. Most colleges and universities have active religious groups on campus, and in many large and small cities students can attend religious institutions that are accepting of LGBTQ+ members. LGBTQ+ students may be more comfortable finding a religious home at an institution that doesn’t bar them from being in a relationship or otherwise expressing their sexuality or gender.

8. What are the ways a college should support LGBTQ students? Where can students go for help if an issue does arise?

Colleges can support LGBTQ+ students by creating policy language that is specifically inclusive or LGBTQ+ students,faculty, and staff. Creating advocacy offices, such as a Sexuality and Gender Resource Center, on campus creates a central site for organizing and advocating for support and resources. Students, faculty, and the community understand that the priorities of the university generally have institutional funding, so a resource center or an office of diversity and inclusion, with administrative personnel in these offices, shows a commitment. These visible and inhabitable spaces demonstrate to students that there is someplace to go if they do need support or assistance.

Colleges and universities should provide Safe Zone and other training to faculty and staff so they are aware of the needs of LGBTQ+ students. These trainings offer signage and stickers that allow faculty and staff to designate areas as welcoming of LGBTQ+ people.

If an issue arises, Title IX coordinators are often the first stop to address harassment, assault, or to request an intervention. Under the Office of Civil Rights guidance, Title IX coordinators have latitude to investigate harassment based on gender, gender identity, and gender expression. In many cases, harassment of LGBTQ+ students stems from gendered harassment and Title IX coordinators are able to address it.

Emma Naliboff Pettit; Program Director

Emma Naliboff Pettit, Program Director for the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network, works directly with students, staff, faculty, and administrators on over 60 campuses worldwide on issues surrounding race, class, gender, sexual orientation, interfaith cooperation, and intercultural competency. Emma works particularly on mentoring students, developing the Sustained Dialogue retreats, and making color-coded spreadsheets. Emma has an extensive dialogue and social justice background. She facilitated and participated in intergroup dialogues as an undergraduate with a group of Muslims and Jews in Los Angeles in the NewGround project, and during six months in Israel with Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Yafo.

1. What opportunities for student life and community are available to new LGBTQ college students?

There are so many! They vary school by school, but here are some great things to look forward to (or, help create when you get there): gender neutral housing and bathrooms; student groups for LGBTQ students – maybe even a couple of them for different sets of people; student groups that support other kinds of diversity and inclusion; multicultural student centers and/or LGBTQ student centers and the great staff who work in them; connections with faculty and staff – both those that are LGBTQ and those that aren’t; mental health support if you need someone to talk to; sustained dialogue groups that hit many topics and give you the chance to learn deeply from others; gender studies or sexuality studies courses, majors, and minors; friends who are amazing; great humans to date.

2. What are the three most important attributes or characteristics an LGBTQ student should consider when selecting a university experience and why?

How many other LGBTQ students are there? Are they out and happy? Learn about their daily life, and if there’s anywhere they aren’t comfortable being out. Also consider: do they match some of your other identities? If you’re a person of color, or nonbinary, or a first-generation college student, find out if there are others like you involved in the LGBTQ community, or if it’s a predominantly white, male, or upper class space.

What are the straight students like? Are they welcoming and supportive, or is the LGBTQ population closed off? Can you walk across campus hand in hand with a partner and feel safe and supported? Do people regularly use each others’ affirming pronouns?
How supportive are the staff and faculty? Learn what the diversity/inclusion architecture looks like – who’s job is it to support you? Are there out faculty and staff? Do they run inclusive classrooms and programs?

3. How important are the community and civic attitude (where the university is located) towards LGBTQ students when selecting a college to attend?

It depends on the campus and how often you’ll be in town. If there aren’t student cafes or restaurants it’s less important. But if you’re located in a college town then it matters. Unfortunately, this also depends on what you look like and your other identities. Students of color and/or transgender students are often less welcomed in college towns than white LGBTQ and/or cisgender students.

Lots of college towns are much more welcoming than their surrounding areas. Don’t worry as much about the state or county, and focus on the immediate area: what will it be like where you’ll be walking around (especially in the evening)?

Ask current students: Do you feel comfortable walking in town hand in hand with a partner? Is there a distinctly different feeling once you step off campus? Do you feel safe in town? Do you notice being LGBTQ differently when you’re in town?

4. What advice would you give to an LGBTQ student who is considering college?

Try to find a campus that doesn’t just label itself as “gay friendly,” but is actually taking action to support every part of the LGBTQ+ population.

For example, you may be completely sure what your identity and labels are now, but it’s possible they may shift. Try to find a place where you can be fluid and explore your whole self. Be careful of places that really want you to be just one thing and not change. If you change pronouns, or if you identify as a lesbian but start wondering if you’re bisexual, will that be a problem?

And make sure to ask about gender. Is the campus inclusive to the T, or just the LGB? Some campuses are great to LGB folks, but are backwards when it comes to transgender or nonbinary students. Ask specifically and take that seriously – gender inclusive campuses are better for all LGBTQ people.

5. What are some of the ways family and friends can support LGBTQ students during this time of transition?

I have an easy answer to this one: Tell them you love them and support them!
Transitioning to college is hard on everyone. Try not to make assumptions about what your person will be experiencing or feeling on campus – don’t guess that they’re immediately a having a great time or dating someone – that can take time. Be open to the fact that their identity may shift, and continue to be supportive even if their pronouns shift or they start using a new label. Don’t call it “experimenting,” no matter what. Be affirming! Tell them you’re proud of them.

6. How should a student, who might not be out to their families yet, navigate finding colleges that feature inclusive environments, or apply for LGBTQ scholarships?

The first rule is to make sure that you’re safe – both at home and in college. Don’t go to a college where you’ll be unsafe just to please your family, and don’t come out to your family if it’s not safe. Period.

LGBTQ campuses are often inclusive around other identities that may not raise flags for your family. Ask about racial politics, other identity issues, and gender-neutral housing. When you’re alone, look online to see if the campus has an LGBTQ student group and get in touch with them. Research their diversity/inclusion office, and email with their staff – they might be able to suggest scholarships. Set up a time for a phone call with a current LGBTQ student when you know you’ll be out of the house.

Campuses that are known as liberal, LGBTQ friendly, and/or women’s colleges are often inclusive, so you’d need to do less obvious research.

7. What advice do you have for students who may want to attend a traditionally conservative or religiously affiliated college?

Everyone’s identities are made up of many different pieces, and each of them matter. Being LGBTQ doesn’t trump anything else, but it can bring physical safety concerns that you need to take seriously.

My main advice is this: Even very conservative campuses sometimes have vibrant LGBTQ communities. Talk to current students to find out, because that’s a huge deal. Ask them: “Are people out here? Is there a supportive community of LGBTQ people that are welcomed by the administration? Do you feel safe walking around campus at night? How regularly do people yell slurs? Are there staff or faculty mentors who are out?” Some places are unexpectedly supportive of LGBTQ students – do your research, but make sure you’re setting yourself up for a safe and happy experience where you can be exactly who you want to be.

Religion-wise, check in about the specific policies. Some campuses are a little tricky and say that you’re free to identify as LGBTQ,but you can’t have sex with anyone of your same gender. Look closely and learn about what happens if you violate that rule. You’re less likely to have out faculty and staff to mentor and support you. If you’re transgender or nonbinary, odds are you won’t find gender-neutral housing or bathrooms, and it may be hard to change your name or documents. Your student health insurance may not cover hormones or surgery. Ask about your options, and make sure that you’re staying safe – if every professor won’t call you by your name and pronouns and you may be denied a medical transition, that emotional toll can be extensive. Factor that into your decision.

8. What are the ways a college should support LGBTQ students? Where can students go for help if an issue does arise?

Colleges should:

  • Have an easy way for students to change their name and gender on record, and offer gender-neutral housing and bathrooms.
  • Offer LGBTQ trainings to students, faculty, and staff to increase cultural competency.
  • Support their LGBTQ staff and faculty, and monitor that diversity.
  • Run dialogue groups that help all people better understand and support each other.
  • Don’t consider these as “issues for the LGBTQ students.” Think of them as issues for the campus.

If you have a problem, take it to the LGBTQ student group and that group’s advisor. Take it to the top of the diversity/inclusion food chain, which may be someone in the multicultural student center, diversity/inclusion office, or a chief diversity officer. Students often feel more connected to faculty, but staff are likely the strongest option (unless you have an LGBTQ faculty mentor – go hang out with that person, they’ll make you feel better).

Brittany Steffen; Marriage & Family Therapist

Brittany Steffen is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Seattle, Washington. She specializes in working with LGBTQ issues, couples in conflict, and a variety of anxiety/depression related topics. She also teaches Gender Perspectives in Family Therapy at a local university and has participated in local workshops and events as a speaker, including a memorable live segment on Sesame Street and Divorce on Q13 Fox News.

1. What opportunities for student life and community are available to new LGBTQ college students?

On campus LGTBQ groups, clubs, and mentoring programs are frequently made available to incoming freshmen. You may find information about these resources online, or by going to your campus’ student union.

2. What are the three most important attributes or characteristics a LGBTQ student should consider when selecting a university experience and why?

  1. Is the school visibly affirming of LGBTQ students? Are there safe space signs? Flyers advertising on campus resources for LGTBQ students? Resources on the school’s website specifically for LGBTQ issues? It’s practically standard practice for schools to post visible signs of LGTBQ support these days, so if you look and you can’t find any, that may indicate a lack of cultural fit for these students.
  2. Cultural fit is extremely important. Does the school appear to have positive attitudes about their LGTBQ students? Do these students feel supported and embraced, or merely tolerated? Tolerance is not enough. Potential students should be looking for a campus that has worked to cultivate a culture of affirmation. You may need to ask current students about the school’s culture in order to get a good read.
  3. Are there other LGBTQ students at the school? Are they out? What has their experience been like? I went to a college where I knew of 2-4 students who were open about being gay or lesbian, but I know many more who didn’t come out until after graduating. Our campus wasn’t overtly LGBTQ friendly, and I think that negatively impacted the experience of some of those students. While we had an LGTBQ club on campus, I never ended up attending. I accidentally wandered into the Young Republican’s group by mistake, and after asking if I was at the right group, being met with blank stares and laughter, I wandered off and never went back! It was kind of funny, even at the time, but it would have been nice if even one attendee had known where my group was and had pointed me in the right direction.

3. How important is the community and civic attitude (where the university is located) towards LGBTQ students when selecting a college to attend?

The community that a university is located in has the potential to influence the values and attitudes held by the university. I use the word “potential” here because I can think of many liberal colleges located in areas that are quite conservative. Colleges are competing for the best students, and most work with the local community to enhance the experience of students. Because you’ll end up spending a lot of time off campus, especially once you move off campus, it is important to select a school with local resources that are LGTBQ friendly. Not every community is lucky enough to have Drag Queen Brunch like Seattle, but if there’s a complete lack of an open and affirming LGTBQ community, that would be a bummer! Especially if on-campus resources are limited, local community resources (or lack thereof) can make a huge difference.

4. What advice would you give to a LGBTQ student who is considering college?

Do your research. Talk with current students and take advantage of the programs available to prospective students. Some universities even offer overnight visits to accepted students. Ask school officials direct questions. If you’re considering a conservative or religious school, double down on your efforts.

5. What are some of the ways family and friends can support LGBTQ students during this time of transition?

Big transitions can be super stressful and scary. It’s a time when students need support from family and friends more so than ever. As a therapist, I sometimes work with graduating seniors who are feeling the grief and loss of this transition, at a time when they may be feeling pressure to be excited about graduating and starting college. Meet them where they’re at. Ask about their worries and fears.

If as a parent or friend you’ve been working to come to terms with their LGTBQ identity, now is the time to step up. When they go off to school they will meet people who are supportive, and you may find that those positive experiences reflect negatively on your relationship with them. Get with the program if you want to continue your relationship with them, seek resources in the form of books, support groups, and/or therapy.

6. What advice do you have for LGBTQ students who may want to attend a traditionally conservative or religiously affiliated college?

Many religious schools are currently working to provide a more positive experience for LGTBQ students. Overall, societal attitudes towards LGBTQ rights in America are trending positively, and even conservative schools are paying attention. These days, many prospective students, while not LGBTQ themselves, have close relationships with someone who is LGBTQ and consider themselves allies. Religious or conservative schools will soon find themselves at a disadvantage if they continue to neglect this population. It may be worth it to find out where in the stages of change is your prospective religious or conservative collage.

That being said, with all of the options out there, if you’re LGBTQ, it’s worth it to pick a school, whether it’s liberal, religious, or conservative, that will provide you a positive and affirming experience. For most of us, college is a once in a lifetime experience. Self exploration, friendships, and dating are an important part of the educational package you’re purchasing. Pick a school that will allow you to make the most of it!

7. What are the ways a college should support LGBTQ students? Where can students go for help if an issue does arise?

Universities should provide safe spaces for all students to access appropriate resources related to academics, onsite living, social needs, mental health, and physical health needs. Your school should provide all of the resources you need to be a successful student, or they should be able to point you in the direction of those resources they do not provide on campus.
Places to go to for help:

  • Your resident assistant
  • The Student Counseling Center
  • Your on-campus LGBTQ club or student resource center
  • Your local Planned Parenthood or free clinic
  • Local community based LGBTQ resource centers
  • Off campus support groups and mental health resources
Steve Willich Director; LGBTQ Student Resource Center

Steve Willich grew up in rural northeastern Colorado and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Colorado State University. After many years working in various nonprofits, he sought to return to the vibrancy of a higher education environment. After two years of working as the assistant to the Dean of Students at Metropolitan State University of Denver, he was promoted to the Director of the LGBTQ Student Resource Center, a position he has held since 2010. In addition to his on-campus duties, Steve serves as a regional representative for both the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals and NASPA Region IV – West.

1. What opportunities for student life and community are available to new LGBTQ college students?

Here on the Auraria campus, our Center serves three different institutions: Metropolitan State University of Denver, University of Colorado Denver, and Community College of Denver. With this diversity of institutional types comes a plethora of opportunities to become involved. Our Center in the Tivoli Student Union provides a great social space where students can come to meet and find others like themselves and create a cohesive community here on campus. We offer a variety of educational programs, as well as resources and support for the entire campus community.

We encourage our students to discover or start student organizations that meet their needs and interests to ensure that they have a well-rounded, involved college experience. We do have a Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) that is active here on campus, providing a multitude of social and leadership opportunities.

2. What are the three most important attributes or characteristics an LGBTQ student should consider when selecting a university experience and why?

Safety and Inclusion – Unfortunately, in today’s societal climate, LGBTQ folks still must remain aware of their surroundings, and be on guard for threats to their safety. Concerns over safety can be somewhat mitigated through research and education about the institution that they are considering attending. In what part of the country is the institution located? Does the institution’s nondiscrimination statement include protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression? Does the campus have an LGBTQ Resource Center? What ratings has the institution received on the Campus Pride Index?

Value – With the rapidly rising costs of attending an institution of higher education, does the institution that they’ve chosen give them a good value for the education they will receive? Have they researched college costs versus the value of their future degree?

Fit – Studies have shown that students who feel involved and have a sense of belonging at an institution are much more likely to persist and graduate. Fit can mean many different things to different people. Does the institution have a good program for the major that they are considering? Does the campus have an LGBTQ Resource Center? What other campus amenities that are important to a student are present (athletics, Greek life, etc.)? Does campus ecology or area of the country matter?

3. How important are the community and civic attitude (where the university is located) towards LGBTQ students when selecting a college to attend?

For me personally, that would be one of the major deciding factors. My personal safety, both physical and psychological, are very important. If I were constantly on edge or worried about my safety, I would not be able to focus on my studies, which is the whole purpose of attending an institution of higher education in the first place. A student’s time in college is not just spent in the confines of the campus, but extends to the local community as well, so having an accepting local community is also important.

4. What advice would you give to an LGBTQ student who is considering college?

Go for it! This can be the most amazing time of your life, when you get to freely explore who you are and the world around you. You’re not likely to have this amount of freedom in the future, so take advantage of every opportunity presented to you, whether that be going to events put on by different organizations, attending athletic events, joining one or more student organizations, competing in intramural sports, or finding a study abroad opportunity that will open your eyes to the world. Your LGBTQ identity is just one facet of who you are, so look for opportunities outside of that one identity.

5. What are some of the ways family and friends can support LGBTQ students during this time of transition?

Listen and be supportive. This is a huge transition for most students, and they may have unexpressed doubts and fears about this new adventure. For many, this will be the first time that they’ve lived away from their families, the first time that they are responsible for their own schedules, meals, and laundry. Be there for them during the exciting times of discovering new things, and be there for them when they get homesick or fail their first assignment. The support that they receive from families and friends can be immeasurable.

6. How should a student, who might not be out to their families yet, navigate finding colleges that feature inclusive environments, or apply for LGBTQ scholarships?

A lot of that might depend on how closely their parents monitor their activities. Are they checking your emails? Your browser histories? If so, you might consider searching for that information at school, where you are much less likely to be discovered. Check out the Campus Pride Index, which rates the inclusiveness of colleges and universities on a large number of factors. Do the students have another place where mail can be securely delivered, like a close friend or a school counselor? It’s not pleasant to think about, but you need to consider the reaction of your parents when you do come out to them. Will they cut you off financially, or kick you out of their home? If so, what other support networks do you have in place?

7. What advice do you have for students who may want to attend a traditionally conservative or religiously affiliated college?

Simply put, be very educated and informed about what you are getting yourself into. Your identities may not be valued, and in fact, may be the source of discrimination or harassment. Does the institution provide protections and services for your identities? Does the institution openly condemn LGBTQ individuals? Take the time to research the institution that you’ve chosen

8. What are the ways a college should support LGBTQ students? Where can students go for help if an issue does arise?

Broadly stated, institutions of higher education should support ALL students in ALL of their intersecting identities. Every student should have an equitable opportunity to access their education, without facing discrimination, harassment, fear, or other barriers that may exist. Depending on the issue that a student may be facing, there are many areas of support that may be available, including:

  • LGBTQ Resource Center
  • Dean of Students office
  • Office of Equal Opportunity
  • Student Conduct
  • Conflict Resolution or Ombudsman services
  • Counseling Center
  • Offices that focus on diversity and inclusion
Tiffany Delaney, MA.Ed; Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Tiffany Delaney, MA.Ed., is the director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont (UVM). She also served as director of medical admissions, helping implement initiatives that allowed the College to recruit and support the most diverse and intellectually prepared student body in its history. The College’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance gave her the 2016 “Dignity in Medicine” award, which recognizes a community member who demonstrates respect, inclusion, and support for LGBTQ+ students, colleagues, and patients. She also received a 2017 “Our Common Ground” award, which recognizes staff members who have made extraordinary contributions and had a significant impact on UVM. She received a bachelor’s degree from Goddard College and master’s degree in higher education administration from George Washington University.

1. What opportunities for student life and community are available to new LGBTQ college students?

Depending on where the student is going to school, many campuses have expanded their programming and support options for LGBTQ students. Many schools have LGBTQ themed affinity groups, things such as gender-neutral restrooms, student centers. Some offer LGBT themed housing options for students. Gender and sexuality studies majors are available on many campuses. The University of Vermont and Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont offer LGBTQ programming and support.

2. What are the three most important attributes or characteristics an LGBTQ student should consider when selecting a university experience and why?

The three most important characteristics a student should look at when considering a university experience include an alignment of what the student wants from the college experience (program of study, personal, and institutional values) and what the institution states it can provide. Also of importance is whether the institution has publicized clear statements of commitment to equity and inclusion for all members of its community, including sexual and gender minorities. This commitment should include a visible anti-bias response program that addresses incidents of bias targeting students, faculty, and staff and educates the campus community about bias, and institutional policies, protocols, and resources related to bias. Finally, prospective students should look for visible representation of members of the LGBTQ community, including the presence of out LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff, as well as support services. Does the school offer dedicated LGBT support services and affinity groups? Can the student see themselves living and learning at the particular school for four years or beyond?

3. How important are the community and civic attitude (where the university is located) towards LGBTQ students when selecting a college to attend?

These are extremely important! Use the internet to search for LGBTQ organizations in the communities you are interested in. When exploring, look at the breadth and depth of the types of organizations in the surrounding community. Do these organizations have ongoing collaborations with the school you are considering? How visible are these organizations? Are there regularly scheduled events (Pride Parades, LGBT History Month celebrations, etc). These organizations can be a great source of information on what a geographical area is like, as well as providing tips on resources for living in the area in which the school is located. Students can also search online for a list of cities and counties in the United States that offer LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinances.

4. What advice would you give to an LGBTQ student who is considering college?

First, think about why you want to go to college and ask yourself some questions:

  • What is important to you as an individual?
  • How much do your future goals relate to your identity?
  • What are your educational goals?

Depending upon the answers to these questions, a student should explore the different types of institutions that offer the academic programs they are most interested in. Then, consider the type of institutional setting that appeals to you. For example, do you like urban environments or more rural? Do you want a large student body or does a smaller one appeal to you? Do you want to stay close to home or move farther away? What are the financial considerations? Once you have answered these questions, speak with a guidance counselor or visit one of the many college search websites that allow you to enter important characteristics and will then provide you a list of the schools that you may be interested in. Once you have a list, spend some time researching each school to get an idea of what the school is like. What types of support services are offered? Are there LGBTQ affinity groups? Does the institution have clear statements of commitment to equity and inclusion for all members of its community, including its LGBTQ members? Attending open houses and campus visits are great ways to experience a campus and town. Be sure to ask to speak with current students to hear different perspectives on what campus life is like.

5. What are some of the ways family and friends can support LGBTQ students during this time of transition?

Family and friends can be the first and most important line of support for LGBTQ students. Providing open and unconditional support to the student is one of the best ways to help ease this transition. Family members and friends should continually educate themselves about issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people and serve as a visible ally/advocate. If a student does not have a supportive immediate family, extended family and friends can help fill in the gap. Keeping an open line of communication with the student and inquiring about their experiences at school can be a help.

6. How should a student, who might not be out to their families yet, navigate finding colleges that feature inclusive environments, or apply for LGBTQ scholarships?

The internet has made the process of exploring all that colleges and universities have to offer—including the presence of inclusive environments—much easier. Students should visit the websites of schools they are interested in to determine what, if any, programming and support options exist for LGBTQ students. Many schools are looking to recruit students from a variety of diverse backgrounds so students should not hesitate to reach out to schools that offer LGBTQ services for more information. Many schools will connect prospective students with current students to talk to about the school and the environment.

7. What are the ways a college should support LGBTQ students? Where can students go for help if an issue does arise?

Colleges should ensure that their programming and support services are visibly LGBTQ friendly and promote that they offer dedicated LGBT support services. Creating a campus climate that is supportive of LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff is imperative. A visible anti-bias response program that addresses incidents of bias targeting students, faculty, and staff and educates the campus community about bias, institutional policies, protocols, and resources related to bias is also a must. If there are no dedicated LGBTQ support services, the diversity office at the school can provide support and resources.

Matthew Banks; Coordinator for Multicultural Programs/LGBTQ+ Student Support Services

Matt Banks (they/them/theirs) is the coordinator of multicultural programs and LGBT student services at Missouri State University. In this role, Matt creates unique programs and trainings to help students, faculty, and staff understand the experiences of LGBTQ+ identified individuals in order to create a sustained commitment to gender and sexual equity. Matt holds a Master of Arts in Higher Education and Student Affairs from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Dramatic Arts from Rice University.

1. What opportunities for student life and community are available to new LGBTQ college students?

I would say the two biggest opportunities are student organizations and student affairs/support services. Most universities have student organizations created by and for LGBTQ+ identified college students. These can vary from general organizations like spectrum groups to activism and advocacy based groups to identify specific groups like QTPoC, Ace/Aro, or Trans groups. Often, these groups are associated with LGBTQ+ resource centers at the different universities. So getting involved with the student organizations can lead to community through the center and student affairs staff who work specifically with LGBTQ identified folks. Other campus partners, particularly residence life and multicultural affairs would also be good places to find support.

2. What are the three most important attributes or characteristics an LGBTQ student should consider when selecting a university experience and why?

Financial aid/security: Paying for college is real. Make sure you can afford to attend and graduate from the university. This is especially important as things like off-campus housing and medical costs (hormones, surgery, etc.) might be important for an LGBTQ+ person to consider.

Institutional Commitment to LGBTQ+ Students: Does the university have an obvious commitment to LGBTQ+ equity and success? Look for things like the presence of LGBTQ+ Resource Centers on campus, comprehensive gender-inclusive housing policies, classes and students organizations devoted to LGBTQ+ topics, and statements from university officials regarding queer and trans identify and liberation.

Academics: Remember, college and university is important in helping you get a job after graduation. If you want to work in a particular field that requires a specific major, look at universities that have those majors. Also, look into whether you can self-design a major, if you can study abroad or get an internship.

These things will differ depending on the student. Some students must have the strong LGBTQ+ community while for others it doesn’t matter. Just take into account what you want and need. And reach out to high school counselors or university officials to get their advice if you need it!

3. How important are the community and civic attitude (where the university is located) towards LGBTQ students when selecting a college to attend?

I think it highly depends on the student and what they want out of their college experience. For some students, going to college on a campus that is highly accepting of LGBTQ identified individuals but is in a town that is less accepting is okay. For others, they would need to be in a city with an equal rights ordinance that prevents discrimination based on gender and sexual identity. Another thing to take into account is that sexual orientation or gender might not be the salient identity for the LGBTQ identified student. For students who are also first generation, being close to home or family might be more important. For students working to support their family, flexible class schedules and financial aid might be the strongest consideration. Basically, location can be important for a student. But it shouldn’t be assumed to be the most important or the only consideration an LGBTQ+ student has when applying to college.

4. What advice would you give to an LGBTQ student who is considering college?

Do not feel that you have to come out in college if you are not ready. Remember, coming out is a highly personal decision to each individual. Just because someone might be very open about their identity doesn’t mean you have to be. Take it at your own pace, reach out to resources on campus, and go on your journey your way. Remember, FERPA applies as a student so talking to student affairs or counseling center employees is confidential and protected. Reach out to them if you need to talk or plan!

6. How should a student, who might not be out to their families yet, navigate finding colleges that feature inclusive environments, or apply for LGBTQ scholarships?

Know your rights. The Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act
(FERPA) means that once you are 18, your family has no legal right or authority to any of your educational information. This includes financial aid at your university. As such, there are steps you can take to make sure you are protected if need be. Make sure that your passwords, PINs, IDs, and emails are secured and your family doesn’t have access to the information. Furthermore, update all mailing addresses with the university to a local address, like your apartment or residence hall. When applying for outside aid, contact the scholarships and let them know your situation if you are afraid of being outed. Then make sure you use that same local address.

When thinking about inclusive environments, look at other reasons you might want to attend that university. Do they have a strong academic program that you are interested in? Are there chances for internships and professional development? Can you get involved in student organizations or campus recreation? If you need to convince your family of the university, these are good facts to know when having that conversation.

7. What advice do you have for students who may want to attend a traditionally conservative or religiously affiliated college?

If that is what brings you happiness and success, then do it. Seek out a community that you want when you get there.

8. What are the ways a college should support LGBTQ students? Where can students go for help if an issue does arise?

Include LGBTQ+ identity and acceptance into orientation, particularly in diversity/inclusion discussions and sexual health discussions. Implement comprehensive gender inclusive housing policies that have as little red tape and hoops as possible. Train professors and staff members to adequately respond to the needs of LGTBQ+ students. Set aside fiscal resources to help LGBTQ+ students, particularly trans students who are accruing costs because of affirmation procedures not specifically covered by their insurance.

I would say the best sources of support, particularly from staff, are LGBTQ+ Resource Centers and Multicultural Resources Centers. These staff tend to be knowledgeable and passionate about working towards liberation and would be great partners to reach out to in helping you navigate college life!