Best Colleges for LGBTQ Students Campus Pride Index

According to a study conducted by Campus Pride, about 23% of LGBTQ faculty members and students were significantly more likely to experience harassment than their heterosexual peers. In addition, LGBT students and faculty members were significantly less likely to feel very comfortable with their environment on-campus. These findings demonstrate the need for colleges to take an active stance against LGBTQ harassment and discrimination ― a stance that, in part, will make it so that LGBTQ students feel safe and welcome to attend.

This year we partnered with Campus Pride to bring you the top colleges in the country for LGBTQ students. The ranking below combines our Academic and Affordability Metrics along with the Campus Pride Index score, which is a comprehensive national rating system that measures LGBTQ-friendly campus life. Campus Pride takes an exhaustive and multifaceted approach, considering eight LGBTQ-inclusive factors to reach a measurement. The listing also includes descriptions of unique campus resources that provide support to students of various gender and sexual identities.

LGBTQ is not a comprehensive acronym. Students looking for resources will likely come across many other abbreviations, since gender and sexuality fall across spectrums rather than set categories. Other examples include pansexual (P), gender non-conforming (GNC), and queer (Q). Acronyms aside, most LGBTQ campus resources try to serve as an umbrella resource for many identities. This list examines colleges that provide an exceptional level of support for students of various gender and sexual identities.

Academic institutions continue to take steps to create environments and policies that meet the needs of students with a wide range of gender and sexual identities. These populations have historically been underserved by hegemonic culture, so many college administrations are spearheading efforts to raise awareness of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) identities.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Score Location Description

Princeton offers a variety of resources for LGBTQ students through the school's LGBT Center. The LGBT Center hosts a wide range of both educational and cultural events including guest speakers, film series, and performance artists. They also offer LGBT Peer Education panels that occur in social, residential, and educational settings. Currently there are seven different Discussion and Support Groups active on campus, organized around diverse topics such as athlete allies and transcending gender boundaries. Like other LGBTQ friendly schools, Princeton's main campus has several non-gendered restrooms and shower stalls.

Princeton has a group of confidential counsellors who are available to listen and provide support for LGBTQ students. These counselors do not conduct investigations, which allows students to confide in them before deciding whether or not to move forward with a formal complaint. If a student decides to lodge a formal complaint, their confidential counselor can put them in touch with the appropriate university administrator.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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Tuft's LGBT Center was founded in 1992 and offers a wide variety of advisement, event programming, and educational resources to LGBTQ students and alumni. The LGBT Center has academic resources for students in queer studies programs, resources for transgender students, faculty, staff, and alumni at Tufts, as well as a list of internships, scholarships, and volunteer opportunities for LGBTQ students.

Tufts is one of a few LGBTQ colleges that offers campus housing specifically for LGBTQ students. The school's Rainbow House is a dorm building that is designed for LGBTQ students and for those who are interested in studying issues of gender and sexuality. Team Q is a new LGBT Center mentoring program for new students, which allows them to learn about gender and sexuality in a supportive and open environment. Students do not have to identify as LGBTQ to attend Team Q or be assigned a Team Q Peer Leader.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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3 University of Pennsylvania RANKING SCORE 96.27 CAMPUS PRIDE SCORE BESTCOLLEGES.COM SCORE 98.31% LOCATION Philadelphia, PA

The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center at UPenn is one of the oldest in the country and has been active for the past 35 years. The center offers peer mentorships, a variety of on-campus events, and provides LGBTQ students with a safe space to study and socialize. The LGBT Center views itself as a social and political hub for the queer community on campus and hosts over 25 undergraduate and graduate student groups. The LGBT Center also provides students with access to program and travel funds, as well as a list of UPenn faculty affiliates who identify as LGBTQ or who engage in LGBTQ work.

Most LGBTQ friendly colleges have a program like UPenn's SafeZones. The faculty and staff in many buildings and offices across campuses have completed this 4-hour seminar and signed a contract agreeing to provide a listening ear, positive resources, and referrals to LGBTQ students and others interested in sexual orientation or gender identity issues.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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[email protected] is a program of the Division of Student Life, and a part of the Student Activities Office. Their mission is to ensure a safe and supportive campus-wide community where LGBTQ students and their allies are all welcomed as equals. MIT is one of the best colleges for LGBTQ students in part because of [email protected]'s commitment to eliminating racism within the LGBT community and the larger MIT community as a whole. This group furthers its commitment to intersectionality by collaborating closely with many other college organizations, including the Black Students' Union, Black Graduate Student Organization, and Institute Community and Equity Office.

MIT is a member of the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. This member-based organization actively works toward the liberation of LGBTQ people in higher education. The organization advocates for more inclusive policies and practices through an intersectional and racial justice framework.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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UW's Q Center is a primarily student run resource center that is dedicated to anyone with or without a gender or sexuality. Students can take advantage of numerous Q Center services, including mentoring, advising, policy advocacy, and Dear Queer advice columns. The Q Center also offers a 2-credit Queer 101 focus group through the Comparative History of Ideas Department (CHID). The students who run the Q Center are extremely active in the blogosphere, regularly publishing advice and community news across two official UW blogging platforms.

One reason why UW is one of the best colleges for LGBTQ is their commitment giving students agency over the personal information that is included on the UW student database, in particular their name and gender identity. The Q Center is currently working with the Office of the Registrar to add a preferred name option within the UW student database and UW official records. This would allow students to change this information on all school documentation without having to pursue a legal name change.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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The Queer Resource Center is a seven college initiative that is dedicated to serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, omnisexual, pansexual and allied communities at the Claremont Colleges. The QRC houses a collection of over 1,200 LGBT-related books and movies, which can be checked out for free and used as textbooks for classes or research material for papers. The QRC's student staff members work hard every semester to hold a number of fantastic programs in addition to co-sponsoring many other events with various organizations on the campuses of each participating school.

The Queer, Questioning, and Allied Mentor Program is a resource that provides confidential mentors to LGBTQ students and allies of the queer community. They are trained to provide support and informed guidance on a variety of queer-related issues. Graduating LGBTQ students can also participate in the Lavender Graduation, an annual celebration that recognizes their scholarship and community contributions.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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7 University of Maryland, College Park RANKING SCORE 91.01 CAMPUS PRIDE SCORE BESTCOLLEGES.COM SCORE 90.85% LOCATION College Park, MD

The LGBT Equity Center at Maryland is committed to empowering social justice and offers a wide variety of resources for LGBTQ students. Students can join the Lavender Leadership Honor Society, an initiative that is advised by a student board which celebrates and develops leadership for LGBTQ social justice. Just like at other LGBTQ friendly colleges, students have access to a variety of specialized internships, scholarships, and awards. The LGBT Equity Center website has a complete list of all LGBTQ faculty and staff who are out about their gender identity or sexual orientation.

There is also the Rainbow Terrapin Network, a campus-wide network of staff, faculty, and students who are committed to inclusion for LGBTQ students. This group has a history of offering in-person trainings where participants learn the fundamentals of LGBTQ+ concepts and help determine ways to make the campus more equitable and inclusive for these communities.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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Williams College is one of the best colleges for LGBTQ students in the country. The school is a member of the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals and has received a 4.5 out of 5 stars rating from the Campus Pride Index. Williams boasts a diverse LGBTQ population, with members in the Black Student Union, the Muslim Student Union, the hockey team, and the dance department. There are also a variety of academic programs that celebrate LGBTQ issues in their curricula, including women's gender and sexuality studies and [email protected] studies.

The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) specifically emphasizes transgender advocacy and offers a variety of resources on its website, including a general FAQ page about transgender topics, a copy of the school's non-discrimination policy, and a resource guide about transitioning at Williams. The center is not just for women and the LGBTQ community; the GSRC celebrates all sexualities and consensual decisions on sex. As a result, the GSRC provides information on healthy sex practices, how to navigate online learning, and surviving sexual assault.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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9 University of California Los Angeles RANKING SCORE 90.33 CAMPUS PRIDE SCORE BESTCOLLEGES.COM SCORE 94.58% LOCATION Los Angeles, CA

UCLA is home to a spectacular array of over 20 LGBTQ student organizations that offer support and services to people from a variety of diverse backgrounds. The official UCLA LGBT Campus Resource Center provides a number of services for LGBTQ students including counseling, advocacy, electronic resources, library materials, and education. Unlike other LGBTQ colleges, undergraduates can pursue an LGBT studies interdisciplinary minor that consists of seven courses.

UCLA places special attention on the transgender community and includes medical and mental health services specifically for transgender students. The LGBT Campus Resource Center website also includes a map of every all-gender restroom on campus. There is also the LGBTQ Allyship Training program, which is designed to help participants gain a general awareness of LGBTQ identities, understand how inclusion can make the UCLA campus and the world a better place, and learn strategies for becoming an effective ally and advocate.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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The wide variety of student organizations at Cornell makes it one of the best colleges for LGBTQ students in the country. The school's LGBT Resource Center is home to more than a dozen student organizations, such as the HIV Support Group, ACE, OUTreach, Queer Straight Alliance, Queer and Asian, and more. There are also a few other specialized student organizations, like Athlete Ally, Ga'avah (for Jewish LGBTQ students), the Ithaca Trans Group.

Cornell also has a student resources page that has links to a variety of helpful sources, including Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, activism and outreach programs like the National LGBTQ Task Force, and other LGBTQ resources like the and the Deaf Queer Resource Center. Cornell also has gender inclusive housing options for undergraduate students.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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SDSU was the second college in North America to offer an LGBT studies major. Students can also pursue an undergraduate minor or graduate certificate in LGBT studies. Like other LGBTQ friendly colleges, SDSU hosts a Lavender Graduation ceremony each year that is open to all students who identify as LGBTQ. The ceremony celebrates the achievements of LGBTQ students and also provides awards to faculty, staff, or administrators who have enhanced the campus climate for the queer community.

The Pride Center at SDSU was opened in the spring of 2014 and acts as a hub for the vibrant resources of the SDSU campus. LGBTQ students can join a variety of student organizations, including the Womyn's Outreach Association, [email protected], and the Queer Student Union. The Pride Center also provides links to the President's Advisory Committee on Equality, SDSU's chief diversity office, and a campus map that outlines all of the school's gender neutral restrooms.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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Macalester boasts a student-run Gender & Sexuality Resource Center that offers students the chance to get involved on personal and campus-wide issues. The center's goal is to fight oppression through strong modes of resistance through “transformative, and revolutionary meetings, discussions, and events." The school recognizes the importance of policies and practices that support transgender, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming students. As a result, the GSRC's website has links to a variety of resources that are useful for students who are exploring or affirming their gender identity.

Macalester is also home to the Allies Project, a project tasked with creating a group of staff, students, and faculty who are all committed to creating safer and more supportive environments for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, or any other label. Like other LGBTQ colleges, Macalester has all-gender campus housing options and a variety of all-gender restrooms on its main campus.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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13 Columbia University in the City of New York RANKING SCORE 88.98 CAMPUS PRIDE SCORE BESTCOLLEGES.COM SCORE 97.97% LOCATION New York, NY

LGBTQ @ Columbia, which is run by the school's department of multicultural affairs, is responsible for ensuring that all student concerns related to LGBTQ issues are heard and acted upon. This organization provides students with LGBTQ student group advising, events, education, advocacy, and other services and resources that help students better understand LGBTQ topics. Students can join one of the school's many LGBTQ student groups, including the Columbia Queer Alliance, GendeRevolution, Proud Colors, Queer & Asian, and the Columbia Queer Business Society.

Most LGBTQ friendly colleges have special resources for transgender students, and Columbia is no exception. The school has a Trans @ Columbia page that includes information about the administration's "preferred name" policy, all-gender housing options, and physical and mental health services that are available on-campus. Every year, LGBTQ @ Columbia hosts a variety of events during October for Queer Awareness Month and in November for Trans Awareness Week.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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The Office of Student Life's Multicultural Center oversees a wide variety of LGBTQ initiatives that were created with the goal of inspiring reflective thought and increasing awareness of sexual orientation and gender identity. OSU is one of the best colleges for LGBTQ students in part because of the many events that the school hosts each year. Some events include Bi VisiBIlity week in September, Herstory Honoring Queer Women in March, and a OUT for Change retreat in February.

There are a number of Q*mmunity groups that are available for students to join. These Q*munnities focus on intersections between identities, community building, personal development, and leadership. Some of the most popular Q*munnities include CORE: Coming Out for Racial Equity as well as a variety of individual groups for different subsections of students, like first-year, spiritual, students of color, and LGBTQ students and allies.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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15 University of Minnesota Twin Cities RANKING SCORE 87.96 CAMPUS PRIDE SCORE BESTCOLLEGES.COM SCORE 84.75% LOCATION Minneapolis, MN

Minnesota's Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life is a one-stop shop for accessing information on the school's many LGBTQ education and training programs, resources, academic programs, and more. Students can join one of the school's many LGBTQ student organizations, groups, or departments, such as the Ally Trainings & Trainer Team, Bi/Pan/Fluid Inclusion Project, fACES, GeeQs, and many more. When it comes to academics, Minnesota offers a gender, women & sexuality studies program, as well as a minor in LGBT studies.

Each year, students can participate in the LGBTQIA Leadership Retreat Program. This retreat takes place over two days and provides undergraduates with the opportunity to build community while exploring intersecting identities and how they are oppressed. Like most LGBTQ friendly schools, Minnesota also offers a mentor program for LGBTQ students who want assistance with adjusting to the school's culture and navigating their gender identity or sexual orientation within a specific academic field or career path. This mentor program offers rolling admission.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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The Pride Center for Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity at Lehigh provides links to resources for current and prospective LGBTQ students, as well as for parents, guardians, faculty, and staff. Most LGBTQ friendly colleges have a Safe Zone or similar training program, and Lehigh is no different. The school's LUally training program incorporates much of the same content that is included in Safe Zone, but it is supplemented by additional skills-based activities that are customized each time based on the audience.

The Pride Center also includes a page that provides resources to transgender, gender questioning, and gender nonconforming students. These resources include information about name and gender changes at the school, health and wellness resources that are available on-campus, all-gender housing options, and trans-friendly fraternities, sororities, and religious organizations. Lehigh is in the process of creating a Pride Center Library.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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Dartmouth's Office of Pluralism and Leadership offers a wide variety of LGBTQ resources for students, staff, and faculty. LGBTQ students have access to sexuality, women, and gender advising services, trans community resources, and more. The Office of Pluralism and Leadership hosts several events throughout the year that promote LGBTQ awareness. These events recognize LGBTQIA+ History Month, Transgender Awareness Week, V-February (Dartmouth's version of V-Day), and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Dartmouth is one of the best colleges for LGBTQ students in part because of its wide variety of specialized internships, professional organizations, and scholarships. There are also a wide variety of gender- and sexuality-related student groups, including Black Girls are Magic, the LGBTQIA+ Leadership Board, Men of Color Alliance, and Sexual Assault Peer Advocates. LGBTQ students who graduate from Dartmouth can join the school's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Alumni/ae Association.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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The Gender & LGBTQIA Center (GLC) advances educational programs, support, and advocacy for students, employees, and alumni at Elon. These initiatives are designed to create inclusive communities around gender, sexuality, and intersections of identity.The GLC website hosts information on a variety of LGBTQ-related events, ally trainings, gender-based violence prevention techniques, and identity weeks that occur throughout the year.

Elon is ranked as a top-25 LGBTQ-friendly campus by the Campus Pride Index. In fact, unlike other LGBTQ colleges, Elon includes a complete checklists of the criteria that they do and do not meet from the Campus Pride Index. LGBTQ students who graduate from Elon can join the school's LGBTQIA Alumni Network. This alumni network advocates on behalf of LGBTQIA alumni by building partnerships and promoting the school's commitment to an inclusive and respectful community.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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The Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) at Oberlin embraces diversity in all its forms. The MRC offers a variety of programs and support services for all underrepresented students, including over 300 events each year. There are two flagship programs at the MRC: My Name is My Own and the Indigenous Women's Series. My Name is My Own is tasked with providing institutional support to Oberlin communities that identify as queer and of color. The Indigenous Women's Series is a series of talks hosted each year by the MRC that raises awareness and support for indigenous issues in the school's curricula and within the campus community. There are also a number of student initiatives, including the Committee on Privilege and Oppression, the Oberlin Coalition for Immigrant Rights, and an experimental college course on anti-racist organizing and white privilege.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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LGBTQ+ @ Babson is the school's hub for all resources and information related to LGBTQ issues. Babson host and participate in a variety of annual LGBTQ-related events, including the Boston Pride Parade, Drag Pub Night, Lavender Graduation, National Coming Out Day, and Transgender Day of Remembrance. Students can register for Safe Zone and gender expansive training through the LGBTQ+ @ Babson website. Like other LGBTQ colleges, Babson earned a 4.5 out of 5 stars rating from the Campus Pride Index.

There are a number of cultural student organizations at Babson, including the Babson African Student Organization, Prism, Origins of Necessary Equality, Women Giving Back, and the Babson Islamic Organization. Students also have access to a wide variety of campus resources, such as the LGBTQ Action Group, Pride Alliance, OUT Network, LGBTQ Alumni Affinity Group, and more.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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21 Rutgers University-New Brunswick RANKING SCORE 86.10 CAMPUS PRIDE SCORE BESTCOLLEGES.COM SCORE 72.54% LOCATION New Brunswick, NJ

The Center of Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities (SJE) at Rutgers is a member of the National Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. The SJE provides educational and social programs, leadership development, and policy consultation for LGBTQ and ally students, as well as faculty, staff, and community members.

Rutgers boasts 12 different campus organizations and clubs that are dedicated to minority groups, people of various identities, and many different fields of study. Some of these organizations include Jewish Allies and Queers, Queer Student Alliance, Student Union of Mixed Race People, and LGBTQIA People of Color Union. Rutgers also has a section of their website dedicated to transgender and gender nonconforming students known as [email protected] Through [email protected], students can access a complete map of all single-use restrooms on campus, as well as information on all-gender housing options, campus healthcare, and how to legally change your name in New Jersey.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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21 Indiana University, Bloomington RANKING SCORE 86.10 CAMPUS PRIDE SCORE BESTCOLLEGES.COM SCORE 74.24% LOCATION Bloomington, IN

The LGBTQ+ Culture Center at Indiana serves as a resource and information center for on-campus students and community members on the school's groups, events, and activities related to LGBTQ topics. Indiana is one of the best colleges for LGBTQ students because it goes to great lengths to create a safe campus for these students. To this end, the LGBTQ+ Culture Center offers multiple ally training sessions each year.

Indiana offers 11 separate LGBTQIA & Ally student groups as well as Sigma Phi Beta Fraternity and Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority for those who want to participate in Greek life. Some of these student groups include Gender Warriors, Keshet (for Jewish LGBTQ students and allies), Latinx Initiative, and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. LGBTQ students who graduate from Indiana can join the school's GLBT Alumni Association. Membership is free and all LGBTQ graduates are encouraged to join.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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The LGBTQIA Resource Center at UC Davis is a hub for LGBTQ resources, support, and events on-campus. Students at UC Davis can enroll in academic programs on sexuality studies or gender, sexuality, and women's studies. They can also join the Rainbow Community, which is open to members of the LGBTQ community and their allies. This community explores identity and regularly covers issues facing the LGBTQ community.

The school's Bi Visibility Project raises awareness around the nuances and politics of individuals who are bisexual, trisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, or other unlabeled sexualities and how they intersect with other identities. The LGBTQIA Resource Center also includes links to ally training programs, a list of staff and faculty members who are out, and places to report hate and bias incidents. Like other LGBTQ friendly colleges, UC Davis has a variety of gender-inclusive restrooms throughout its campus.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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24 Washington University in St. Louis RANKING SCORE 84.74 CAMPUS PRIDE SCORE BESTCOLLEGES.COM SCORE 91.86% LOCATION St. Louis, MO

Washington University's Campus Life website includes an LGBTQIA page that acts as a hub for events, resources, programs, and volunteer opportunities for the school's LGBTQ community. The website includes recommendations for reading materials, an online campus map of all gender-inclusive bathrooms, and a link to a guide for coming out as asexual.

There are a variety of LGBTQ student groups, including Pride Alliance, Connections, People like US, Transcending Gender, and WashU Ace & Aro. Student can also participate in Destination Q, a free two-day retreat for undergraduates who are engaged in the LGBTQ communities at Washington University. During this retreat, students explore leadership and identity while learning about the different experiences within the community. Washington University is truly one of the best colleges for LGBTQ students, as it is one of only a few schools to receive a 5 out of 5 stars from the Campus Climate Equality index.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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25 University of California San Diego RANKING SCORE 84.23 CAMPUS PRIDE SCORE BESTCOLLEGES.COM SCORE 87.12% LOCATION La Jolla, CA

UC San Diego's LGBT Resource Center provides a visible presence on campus that enhances the school's sense of connection and community among LGBT students, faculty, and staff. UC San Diego is one of few LGBTQ colleges with its own dedicated technology center. The David Bohnett CyberCenter boasts eight state-of-the-art ThinkCentre computers, a laser printer, and a scanner. The LGBT Resource Center also has its own library that consists of more than 2,100 books, films, and journals.

The LGBT Resource Center website includes information on scholarships, on-campus housing, gender-neutral bathrooms, and study abroad resources. There is also an education section of the website that includes foundational information on LGBTQIA terminology, an overview of transgender and intersex identities, a primer on biphobia, and a useful hierarchy of oppressions. Students can sign up for the Rainbow Newsletter to receive regular updates on queer life at UC San Diego.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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Davidson offers a number of resources and networks for LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff. The college's LGBTQA Caucus are advocates on behalf of all LGBTQ memebers of the Davidson community. This group meets monthly and is composed of LGBTQ-identifying and allied staff and faculty. The LGBTQA Resource Library and Lounge, commonly known as the Lavender Lounge, contains about 200 books, films, documentaries, TV shows, and education materials from advocacy groups on LGBTQ-relevant topics.

Unlike many LGBTQ friendly schools, Davidson maintains a robust career development resources page that includes information on rights in the workplace, job search tools, industry resources, and tips for assessing employers. Student can join one of the school's many organizations related to gender and sexuality, including Davidson Women's Committee, For Loving Yourself, Queers & Allies, and You Are Not a Stranger Here. Graduates are free to join the Gay-Straight Alumni Network, an informal affinity network created to facilitate connections between LGBTQ alumni and the college.

Learn more at Campus Pride.

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In recent years, a growing number of young adults have begun to openly identify as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community. A 2016 Gallup poll found that 4.1% of U.S. residents ― roughly 10 million individuals ― identify as LGBTQ; this figure was up from 3.5% in 2012. The representation was even higher in Millennials or adults born in 1982 or later; 7.3% of Millennial respondents identified as LGBTQ, up from 5.8% in 2012.

Many of the country’s colleges and universities have taken measures to ensure that LGBTQ students feel safe and respected. According to the Consortium of Higher Education Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Professionals, more than 150 postsecondary institutions in the U.S. currently offer on-campus LGBTQ centers, and organizations like Campus Pride maintain up-to-date evaluations of different schools based on how ‘LGBTQ-friendly’ they are. However, some widespread problems persist. A recent survey published by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that 55.5% of LGBTQ students ‘felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation’; 30.3% missed at least one day of school in the previous month because they felt unsafe, and more than 10% missed at least four days.

There are many important considerations students face when it comes to choosing the best college or university for them. These include the cost of tuition and housing, available financial aid, academic reputation, and campus size. Additionally, LGBTQ students are encouraged to research different schools based on the following criteria:

LGBTQ Campus Safety: Virtually every campus in the country has strict rules regarding the harassment and abuse of other students, but these policies should clearly outline two factors: the specific condemnation of acts of abuse or harassment against members of the LGBTQ community and an explanation of the procedure for LGBTQ students that have been abused or harassed.

LGBTQ Housing: Gender identity is a major issue for many LGBTQ individuals. To mitigate this, Campus Pride reports that 263 colleges and universities currently offer ‘gender-inclusive housing’, which enables any student to have a roommate of either gender. Furthermore, students may feel more comfortable at schools that openly support LGBTQ students in their housing information materials.

LGBTQ-Friendly Policies: According to Campus Pride, 1,036 postsecondary institutions in the U.S. have non-discrimination policies that extend to sexual orientation and gender expression. Alternatively, the organization also maintains a ‘shame list‘ of schools that ‘openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth and/or have requested Title IX exemptions to perpetuate the harms of religion-based bigotry’.

Counseling and Mental Health Opportunities: In addition to organizations and policies that strive to create an inclusive atmosphere for LGBTQ students, many colleges and universities currently offer counseling options aimed at these individuals. In some cases, these services are facilitated by counselors and staff that also identify as LGBTQ.

Before attending a college or university in the U.S., LGBTQ students should be aware of their legal rights. The following three acts have been passed within the last decade in order to provide more protection and advocacy for all LGBTQ individuals, including college students.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed in 2009. The act was named for two hate crime victims: Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming who was murdered in 1998; and James Byrd, Jr., an African-American man killed by white supremacists the same year. The act provides more leeway for federal law enforcement officials to investigate crimes that local authorities have dismissed or closed, allocates funding to aid the prosecution of hate crime perpetrators, and requires the FBI to maintain statistics regarding hate crime incidence rates for different vulnerable groups.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 explicitly prohibits sex-based discrimination of any individual attending a federally funded educational program. These programs include public colleges and universities, as well as elementary and secondary schools and vocational training programs offered by individuals or organizations that receive federal financial assistance. This law does not extend to private undergraduate colleges or private schools that are controlled by religious organizations.

In addition to federal measures like the two listed above, many anti-discrimination laws exist at the state level. According to Lambda Legal, a nonprofit organization that advocates for LGBTQ civil rights, 19 U.S. states have passed laws ensuring that LGBTQ individuals can utilize ”public accommodations’ ― such as colleges and universities ― in the same manner as other citizens. These states are: California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. New Hampshire and Wisconsin have laws protecting equal rights based on sexual orientation, but not gender expression.

Campus Pride was founded in 2001 as an online networking community known as Campus PrideNet; the current name was adopted in 2006. Campus Pride abides by a mission 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.

One of Campus Pride’s most noteworthy initiatives, the Lambda 10 Project, was launched to ‘heighten the visibility’ of LGBTQ students in fraternities and sororities. The success of Lambda 10 has led to the creation of other projects centered around LGBTQ members of the Greek community, including the Out & Greek Conference and the Greek Ally Network. Campus Pride also conducts student surveys at college and university campuses across the country. The results of these surveys are used to update the Campus Pride Index, which awards star ratings (scaled one to five) for different schools based on anti-discrimination policies, LGBTQ student resources, and other criteria. Campus Pride also maintains the shame list, a directory of ‘the absolute worst campuses for LGBTQ youth’.

Students can get involved with Campus Pride in several ways. The organization offers ‘stop the hate‘ training programs that are intended to reduce the number of discrimination incidents and hate crimes on college campuses. Students can also download the ‘Lil’ Purple Backpack‘, a comprehensive resource guide regarding laws, organizations, and advocacy programs for LGBTQ students; this guide is available for free. Other activities and opportunities include job and career fairs, online training, internships, and Camp Pride, a leadership academy for LGBTQ undergraduate students.

There are many resources available to today’s LGBTQ college students; the following list represents a sampling of hundreds of options. Please contact your school’s LGBTQ center for more information about LGBTQ policies, programs, and initiatives. You can also search for your institution on Campus Pride to see its current ‘LGBTQ-friendly’ rating.

Scholarships For LGBTQ Students

This list includes more than 30 merit- and need-based scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid that are geared toward LGBTQ students. Candidates can also learn about financial awards from high school and college counselors.

LGBTQ Student Guide

This comprehensive guide outlines the unique difficulties faced by LGBTQ students, as well as a glossary of current terms, tips for choosing an LGBTQ-friendly institution, and a list of pro-LGBTQ organizations.

The Campus Pride Ultimate Queer College Guide

This extensive resource from Campus Pride includes checklists and guidelines for prospective LGBTQ students for every stage of the application and enrollment process. It offers some strategies for locating LGBTQ-friendly organizations and resources on-campus and within the school’s local community.

Effective LGBTQ Strategies for a Safer, More Welcoming Campus

Campus Pride created this list of guidelines to help students hold their schools accountable for LGBTQ safety. The list includes tips for evaluating institutional policies, implementing training and development workshops, and creating more visibility for LGBTQ students and community concerns on college campuses.

LGBTQ on Campus Online Trainings

Campus Pride currently offers free, 30-minute video training courses for LGBTQ college students, faculty, and staff members. The goals of these tutorials are twofold: to increase ’empathy and awareness’ for the challenges faced by LGBTQ students and build skills and knowledge that foster an environment of on-campus respect.

Transgender Membership in Fraternities & Sororities and Title IX

According to Campus Pride, some organizations have misinterpreted Title IX to mean that fraternities and sororities should remain single-gender and not admit transgender students. This information page outlines current policies and ways that Greek systems can create a more inclusive environment for all students.

Campus Pride’s 2017 Best of the Best Top 25 LGBTQ-friendly Colleges & Universities

Every year, Campus Pride publishes a list of the friendliest U.S. schools for LGBTQ students. The 2017 ranking includes schools from 16 different states, including historically conservative states like Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Rankings Archive

Best LGBT Colleges of 2016
Rank School Location
1 University of Pennsylvania Indiana, PA
2 Ithaca College Ithaca, NY
3 Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington, IN
4 University of Washington Seattle, WA
5 Tufts University Medford, MA
6 University of Massachusetts - Amherst Amherst, MA
7 San Diego State University San Diego, CA
8 Princeton University Princeton, NJ
9 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
10 University of Oregon Eugene, OR
11 University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
12 Rutgers University - New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ
13 University of Maryland - College Park College Park, MD
14 Macalester College Saint Paul, MN
15 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
16 New York University New York, NY
17 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
18 Montclair State University Montclair, NJ
19 Stanford University Stanford, CA
20 University of Colorado - Boulder Boulder, CO
21 Oberlin College Oberlin, OH
22 Harvey Mudd College Claremont, CA
23 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
24 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
25 Yale University New Haven, CT

Best LGBT Colleges of 2015
1 Arizona State University Tempe, AZ
2 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ
3 University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
4 San Diego State University San Diego, CA
5 University of California - San Diego La Jolla, CA
6 California State University - Long Beach Long Beach, CA
7 University of California - Davis Davis, CA
8 University of California - Irvine Irvine, CA
9 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
10 Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
11 Iowa State University Ames, IA
12 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
13 University of Kansas Lawrence, KS
14 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
15 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
16 Rutgers University - New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ
17 University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM
18 New York University New York, NY
19 University of Toledo Toledo, OH
20 Bowling Green State University Bowling Green, OH
21 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
22 University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
23 University of Washington Seattle, WA
24 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
25 SUNY at Albany Albany, NY
26 University of Houston Houston, TX
27 University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA
28 University of California - Riverside Riverside, CA
29 Tulane University of Louisiana New Orleans, LA
30 American University Washington, D.C.