The Best Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students in 2022

Increased visibility of LGBTQ+ students on campuses has increased the need for support networks. Here are the top-ranked colleges for LGBTQ+ support.

portrait of Debbi Johnson-Rais, Ed.D.
by Debbi Johnson-Rais, Ed.D.

Updated September 8, 2022

Reviewed by Angelique Geehan

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College diversity initiatives have expanded their definition to include LGBTQ+ students. This is due to changes and improvements made to the campus climate through the creation of a robust support network for students.

This network includes student organizations, inclusive healthcare and counseling services, and support centers.

This ranking, in partnership with Campus Pride, looks at the top 25 LGBTQ+-friendly colleges. These institutions rank among the best in their efforts to support and provide academic, financial, and social resources for LGBTQ+ students.

What does it take to be one of the Best Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students? Find out how the University of Texas at Dallas creates a supportive environment for LGBTQ+ students.


Helping LGBTQ+ Students Choose the Right College

Although the number of LGBTQ+ students attending U.S. colleges is increasing, these students face challenges. These challenges are related to: their identity, concerns with safety, and a lack of institutional policies to protect them.

They also include mental health concerns, questions about gender identity, safety concerns due to discrimination, and a lack of institutional protection.

There are factors to consider when choosing an LGBTQ+-friendly college. Peer support from LGBTQ+ organizations or mentorship programs can offer a safe space to explore identity or socialize with like-minded individuals.

The infrastructure of the college is also critical to creating a climate of inclusion, particularly through gender-inclusive housing, inclusive restrooms, and faculty and staff representation.

Adequate health services that provide counseling and gender-affirming treatment are also important factors.

A recent report by the Proud and Thriving Project found that LGBTQ+ students experience greater incidences of mental health conditions than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts, making adequate mental health resources critical.

What Is Campus Pride?

For college students seeking LGBTQ+-friendly colleges, a helpful resource to consider in your research is Campus Pride, a national organization for college students seeking support and resources for LGBTQ+ issues on campus.

According to Shane Windmeyer, the founder and executive director of Campus Pride, the mission is to serve "LGBTQ and ally student leaders and campus organizations in the areas of leadership development, support programs, and services to create safer, more inclusive LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities."

The organization's projects and initiatives are concentrated in five core values: social justice, youth voice and action, empowerment, positive change, and diversity.

Campus Pride Resources for LGBTQ+ College Students

Annually, Campus Pride produces the Campus Pride Index, which awards star ratings (scaled 1-5) to colleges based on their LGBTQ+ supportive policies, LGBTQ+ student resources, and other criteria.

How Do We Rank LGBTQ+-Friendly Colleges?

In partnership with Campus Pride, we are happy to bring you our top 25 most LGBTQ+-friendly colleges in the United States. In addition to the Campus Pride Index rating scale, BestColleges has included its own ranking methodology and the following factors to produce this list:

Top 25 Most LGBTQ+-Friendly Colleges

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In Partner with BestColleges.com

#1

Stanford University

School Information
Location Stanford, California
Admission Rate 4%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Queer Student Resources (QSR) office creates spaces for students of all genders and sexualities to feel safe. The center focuses on the intersectionality of gender, race, religion, and sexuality.

The QSR provides programming for members of various communities such as Black queer and trans students and queer and trans people of color, academic-focused programs, and queer faith-based initiatives.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $52,857
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
View School Profile
#2

Princeton University

School Information
Location Princeton, New Jersey
Admission Rate 6%
Graduation Rate 98%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Founded in 1989, the Gender + Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) was created to support and empower the LGBTQ+ community through events, education, and other initiatives.

The GSRC provides peer-facilitated, first-year discussion groups; gender-support discussion groups; a peer-educator program, Out in STEM; and the Q'nnections mentorship program.  They also provide training and initiatives related to allyship, social justice and mental health, and wellness.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $51,870
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
View School Profile
#3

University of Pennsylvania

School Information
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 8%
Graduation Rate 96%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Open since 1982, the LGBT Center at the University of Pennsylvania was created as a response to homophobic incidents occurring on campus. It serves to foster a safe campus environment and affirm members of its community.

Other resources include an African-American Resource Center, religious organizations, and various cultural clubs.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $51,156
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
View School Profile
#4

Tufts University

School Information
Location Medford, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 15%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The LGBT Center at Tufts University offers a safe space for students to gather, as well as campuswide programing on sexuality, gender, and discrimination. Center staff are available for consultations to provide support and guidance to the LGBTQ+ community.

The university provides special interest housing, and the campus health center is available for a broad range of sexual health support and gender-confirming therapy.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $57,324
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: New England Commission on Higher Education
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#5

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

School Information
Location Ann Arbor, Michigan
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 93%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 1% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Gay Liberation Front chapter at the University of Michigan created the Spectrum Center in 1971, to support its LGBTQ+ community. The center works to create a welcoming climate through advocacy, education, and community-building.

The program support includes health and wellness initiatives, crisis response, and academic and social support groups. Online learning opportunities also allow involvement with easier access.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $16,212
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
View School Profile
#6

University of Washington

School Information
Location Seattle, Washington
Admission Rate 52%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Q Center was created in 2005 as a result of a letter to the university president requesting a safe space for queer students. It has since grown to provide support, learning and research opportunities, and employment and leadership development for LGBTQ+ students.

The Queer Mentoring and Peer Program provides peer support as students navigate the college experience alongside sexual orientation and identity.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $10,370
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
View School Profile
#7

Harvey Mudd College

School Information
Location Claremont, California
Admission Rate 14%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

The Queer Resource Center (QRC) at Harvey Mudd College began in the 1970s, created by students. The center is now available for drop-in appointments, organizational meetings, and studying.

The QRC hosts various support programs such as the Queer and Questioning Mentor Program and events such as National Coming Out Day, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and other social events.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $58,359
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
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#8

Macalester College

School Information
Location Saint Paul, Minnesota
Admission Rate 32%
Graduation Rate 91%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission

The Gender & Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) at Macalester College provides programming for its LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff. The All Gender Community housing is a model community where students of all genders are welcome, and the GSRC Qmmunity Connections creates a space for members of the community to make connections.

The Queer Professionals Network allows students to connect with faculty, staff, and alumni, and various identity collectives create opportunities for cross-campus dialogue.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $56,062
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation:  Higher Learning Commission
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#9

Lehigh University

School Information
Location Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 32%
Graduation Rate 90%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Pride Center at Lehigh University has a strong history of consistent development since its first student organization was created in 1972. Its belief is that support for the LGBTQ+ community requires intentional support for all historically excluded communities.

Programming includes LUally training, mentorship, and a wide range of resources written for LGBTQ+ individuals in the Pride Center library.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $54,790
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation:  Middle States Commission on Higher Education
View School Profile
#10

Kenyon College

School Information
Location Gambier, Ohio
Admission Rate 34%
Graduation Rate 91%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission

Kenyon College has a strong institutional commitment to providing a safe, vibrant community for its LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff, and a policy to support them. The school's programming involves social, academic, and advocacy opportunities, as well as health promotion and financial support.

Kenyon College hosts the Queer and Trans Studies Conference biennially, featuring tracks in healthcare and technology, visual and performing arts, humanities and popular culture, society and law, and community interest workshops.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $56,340
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
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#11

Purdue University

School Information
Location West Lafayette, Indiana
Admission Rate 60%
Graduation Rate 82%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Center, part of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, serves the LGBTQ+ community through social events, lecture series, advocacy for a discrimination-free environment, and various training opportunities.

THE LGBTQ Center maintains a library of resources and historical artifacts related to key moments in the history of the community. The center connects with local community groups to provide enrichment opportunities for its members. 

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $9,208
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 
View School Profile
#12

University of Maryland

School Information
Location College Park, Maryland
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 87%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Equity Center serves all LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff at the university. The center provides opportunities for learning, leadership, and connection to the community.

Unique opportunities include the Lavender Leadership Honor Society, the #TransTerps project, and the Rainbow Terrapin Network. A resource library also catalogs books, movies, and other resources  

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $8,824
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
View School Profile
#13

San Diego State University

School Information
Location San Diego, California
Admission Rate 34%
Graduation Rate 73%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

San Diego State University's LGBTQ+ resources are housed in The Pride Center, a location that provides a safe and inclusive environment for individuals to meet and learn. The community has on- and off-campus resources available for support.

The center also facilitates participation in events such as the Pride Parade, Black Gay Pride Week, Dragstavaganza, and Trans Day of Remembrance.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $5,742
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
View School Profile
#14

The University of Texas at Dallas

School Information
Location Richardson, Texas
Admission Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 70%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Galerstein Gender Center (GGC) has been part of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion since 1996. The GGC provides support to the LGBTQ+ community through specialized advising, training, lectures, workshops, and celebratory advocacy.

The GGC Equity Excellence program provides a certificate of commitment to participants from the university community upon completion of various academic and social events, book clubs, and lectures.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $13,442
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission 
View School Profile
#15

Ohio State University

School Information
Location Columbus, Ohio
Admission Rate 54%
Graduation Rate 86%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Ohio State University has an active LGBTQ+ community and provides comprehensive support for them with gender-inclusive housing, comprehensive health services, and faith-based support. There are also scholarships and grants available for community members.

Programming includes the The Ohio State Q*mmunity (OSQ) peer mentor program, resources for queer and trans people of color, and various training opportunities to educate all interested in the history and terminology of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $10,197
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation:  Higher Learning Commission
View School Profile
#16

Rutgers University

School Information
Location New Brunswick, New Jersey
Admission Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 24% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities focuses on educational and social programs and consultation on policy for members of the LGBTQ+ campus community. The center was created in 1992 as the result of a recommendation from the Select Committee for Lesbian and Gay Concerns.

Rutgers University provides comprehensive support to the LGBTQ+ community through multiple events, workshops, housing, and other resources.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $12,230
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
View School Profile
#17

Indiana University-Bloomington

School Information
Location Bloomington, Indiana
Admission Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 79%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The LGBTQ+ Culture Center at Indiana University-Bloomington provides support to members of its LGBTQ+ community that includes scholarships, educational resources, and other support services. The center has collaborative initiatives with other diversity programs on campus to facilitate support to the community.

The LGBTQ+ Peer Mentor Program matches new students to returning students to facilitate the transition into university. The Training Outreach Program promotes institutional equity by educating campus partners on issues facing the community.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $9,575
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
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#18

University of Vermont

School Information
Location Burlington, Vermont
Admission Rate 67%
Graduation Rate 77%
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Prism Center has been serving the LGBTQ+ population at the University of Vermont since 1999 and is a place for students to build their leadership skills, connect to the community, and advocate for equity and inclusion. The center works closely with other campus identity centers to achieve this goal.

Other sources of support include identity-affirming care, emergency funds for urgent needs, and housing.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $16,392
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation:  New England Commission on Higher Education
View School Profile
#19

Towson University

School Information
Location Towson, Maryland
Admission Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 71%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The LGBTQ+ Student Development Program at Towson University was created to cultivate leadership, career development, and organizational involvement through various programs, events, and services. There are gender-inclusive housing options available, social and educational spaces for meetings, and LGBTQ+ specialists at the Counseling Center.

The university also collaborates with many community programs in the city of Baltimore, including the Pride Center and Baltimore Pride.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $6,962
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
View School Profile
#20

University of Pittsburgh

School Information
Location Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 57%
Graduation Rate 83%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Pittsburgh offers the LGBTQ+ community a comprehensive database for navigating the extensive resources provided. The website provides tips on how to get involved, courses on gender and sexuality, health resources, workshops, and events pertinent to the community.

The LGBTQ+ community at the University of Pittsburgh also plays an active role in fraternities and sororities and has gender-inclusive housing options available through the Office of Residence Life.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $18,628
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
View School Profile
#21

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

School Information
Location Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Admission Rate 82%
Graduation Rate 67%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has a significant number of resources for members of the LGBTQ+ community to get involved in social, educational, and advocacy programs through the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC). Whether it is through regular campus events, housing and safe spaces, or training opportunities, there is robust support available.

There are many ways for students to get involved at the GSRC, with volunteer or service learning opportunities.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $7,361
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
View School Profile
#22

Texas Tech University

School Information
Location Lubbock, Texas
Admission Rate 69%
Graduation Rate 61%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The Office of LGBTQIA Education and Engagement at Texas Tech University focuses on leadership and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. It also provides opportunities for allyship through online resources, events, and training.

Various signature programs include Pride Week, Lavender Graduation, Glamour and Fame Pageant, and Transgender Day of Remembrance. Various campus and legal services are also available for support and engagement.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $6,744
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
View School Profile
#23

Ithaca College

School Information
Location Ithaca, New York
Admission Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 74%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Ithaca College provides a vibrant and engaged community for LGBTQ+ students through its Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services. The center, founded in 1999, supports both the academic and social needs of the community and its allies.

Campuswide events include an Ithaca Pride walking tour of historically meaningful sites in Ithaca, an important site for LGBTQ+ rights. It also hosts speakers, film series, receptions, and other social gatherings.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $45,274
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
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#24

Montclair State University

School Information
Location Montclair, New Jersey
Admission Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 67%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The LGBTQ Center at Montclair State University provides educational and engagement opportunities for members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies on campus. They do this through increasing awareness, leadership development, and various other resources.

Stonewall Suites provides students with a safe living environment connected to classroom and student involvement options. Additionally, the Safe Space program allows the community to learn how to create a safe environment on campus.

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $12,082
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education 
View School Profile
#25

Minnesota State University-Mankato

School Information
Location Mankato, Minnesota
Admission Rate 63%
Graduation Rate 50%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The LGBT Center, which started as a small support center for LGBTQ+ students in 1977, is the second of its kind on a university campus nationally. The center not only provides a supportive environment for students, faculty, and staff on campus, but also serves as a resource for training and involvement.

The center connects members of the LGBTQ+ community to other resources, both on campus and nationally.  

Academic Snapshot

  • Annual Undergraduate Tuition, In-State: $7,394
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 
View School Profile

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Meet Our Campus Pride Experts

Portrait of Genny Beemyn, Ph.D.

Genny Beemyn, Ph.D.

Genny Beemyn is a leading expert on the experiences of trans people in the United States, particularly the lives of trans students, and on the development of trans-inclusive college policies and practices. They are the director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the Trans Policy Clearinghouse coordinator for Campus Pride.


Portrait of Shane L. Windmeyer, M.S., Ed.

Shane L. Windmeyer, M.S., Ed.

Shane Windmeyer is a leading author on LGBTQ+ campus issues, national leader in LGBTQ+ civil rights, and a champion for LGBTQ+ issues on college campuses. He is co-founder and executive director of Campus Pride. Windmeyer is also the author of The Advocate College Guide for LGBTQ+ Students, the first-ever college guide profiling the "100 Best LGBTQ-Friendly Campuses."

Frequently Asked Questions About LGBTQ+-Friendly Colleges

What college has the largest LGBTQ+ population?

In a survey of 180,000 undergraduate and graduate students in 2018, the Association of American Universities found that 17% of students identified as LGBTQ+. A 2020 American College Health Association study reported that out of a cohort of 8,000 surveyed, 21% identified as LGBTQ+.

Of the top LGBTQ+-serving institutions, The Ohio State University has the largest overall student population — and a strong support system for the LGBTQ+ community. Indiana University, Purdue University, and Rutgers University have the next largest total populations, with comprehensive support available for LGBTQ+ students.

How do you know if a college is LGBTQ+-friendly?

There are a number of characteristics to look for on a college campus that supports LGBTQ+ students. Resources include support to improve campus climate and safety, opportunities for identity development, and expertise on institutional and state policies and their impact on the community.

All students should ensure their institution of choice is a good fit for them, but LGBTQ+ students have additional details to consider. Trans or nonbinary students of any background and LGBTQ+ students of color must consider how well their full identities are likely to be supported on campus.

Gender-inclusive housing, scholarship opportunities, health care, faculty representation, and the availability of student organizations and mentorship opportunities are all important factors to LGBTQ+ student success.

What is the most LGBT-friendly place in the U.S.?

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According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the Household Pulse Survey administered by the Census Bureau suggests that 20 million adults in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ+. States with the highest LGBTQ+ populations include Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Illinois.

UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute published data regarding U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest LGBTQ+ populations. The top cities were New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago, followed by San Francisco and Miami. The city with the highest percentage of LGBTQ+ individuals per population was San Francisco.

Cities considered LGBTQ+-friendly have well-established, safe communities with activities, nightlife, housing, and events that are appealing to the LGBTQ+ community.