Campus Pride Blog

Back to School, Back to Progress: More Colleges ‘Come Out,’ Make Campuses Safer, More Welcoming for LGBT students

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Growing number of colleges receive Campus Pride’s five-star gay-friendliness rating, nearly doubles from last year

This Fall a growing number of American colleges and universities are taking steps to make their campuses safer and more inclusive for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, according to the new ratings from the Campus Pride’s LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index. In fact, 33 schools – nearly double the number from last year – received the highest ratings available for institutions of higher education.

The Campus Climate Index lists nearly 300 publicly available campus climate reports online at www.campusclimateindex.org. The nationally-praised Index takes an in-depth look at LGBT-friendly policies, programs and practices. Colleges are rated from one to five stars, depending on their answers to a detailed, voluntary questionnaire submitted to Campus Pride, a national non-profit working to create safer, more LGBT-inclusive colleges and build future LGBT and ally leaders. Launched online in Fall 2007, the Index has become a staple in student and faculty research, campus organizing efforts and benchmarking for LGBT student safety and inclusion on campus.

Unlike other national LGBT-friendliness rankings for colleges and universities, Campus Pride’s Campus Climate Index takes into account answers by students, faculty and staff to highly detailed, comprehensive questions assessing LGBT-friendly policies, programs and practices.

“Campus Pride’s Index is the only one of its kind,” says Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer, a leading author, speaker and researcher on LGBT campus issues. “Unlike other commercially-driven rankings, our ratings are done for and by LGBT people and set in a foundation of solid research practice.”

33 schools receive perfect five-star rating

Each summer, colleges and universities are encouraged to update their Campus Climate Index with new data and information that reflects their institutions’ continuing efforts to create safer, more inclusive campuses. Campus Pride’s 2011 Campus Climate Index includes 33 schools — nearly double from last August — receiving perfect, five-star ratings. These schools, including well-known and nationally-respected centers of academia, excelled in eight areas: 1. LGBT Policy Inclusion, 2. LGBT Support & Institutional Commitment, 3. LGBT Academic Life, 4. LGBT Student Life, 5. LGBT Housing, 6. LGBT Campus Safety, 7. LGBT Counseling & Health and 8. LGBT Recruitment and Retention Efforts.

The colleges and universities scoring five-star ratings this year include: American University; Amherst College; Carleton College; Dartmouth College; Emory University; Humboldt State University; Indiana University; Ithaca College; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Oberlin College; Oregon State University; Princeton University; San Diego State University; Southern Oregon University; Stanford University; Syracuse University; The Ohio State University; The Pennsylvania State University; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Riverside; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of California, Santa Cruz; University of Maine; Farmington University of Massachusetts, Amherst; University of Michigan; University of Oregon; University of Pennsylvania; University of Southern California; University of Vermont; University of Washington; Washington University in St. Louis; and Whitman College.

More work to be done

Despite the growth in schools that are actively working to make their campuses better for LGBT students, much more work remains to be done.

“Campus Pride applauds all campuses who have ‘come out’ on the Index, regardless of their rating. By doing so these campuses are taking active responsibility for their LGBT campus community, says Windmeyer. “The Campus Pride Index grew by nearly a third over the past year, but there are still many, many other colleges and universities who have yet to ‘come out’ for their LGBT students and then take adequate steps to protect and ensure a safe, welcoming learning environment.”

Campus Pride’s 2010 State of Higher Education, an in-depth report documenting the experiences of over 5,000 college students, faculty, staff and administrators, showed that only seven percent of colleges and universities nationwide have institutional support for LGBT students. Surprisingly, only 13 percent include sexual orientation in campus non-discrimination policies and just 6 percent include gender identity protections.

“According to our national research, more than a third of transgender and 13 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual students, faculty and staff fear for their physical safety on campuses across the United States,” Windmeyer says. “As a result, more than a third of some of these students and faculty have seriously considered leaving their school. We must do better.”

Windmeyer encourages colleges and universities to complete the Campus Pride Index’s questionnaire and use it as a guide for making institutional changes on their campuses. In addition, Campus Pride’s Fall 2011 LGBT-Friendly National College Fair Program gives schools the opportunity to actively reach out and recruit talented and driven students from across the country. The Fair’s tour begins this year in August in Charlotte and continues through November with stops in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and New York.

For more information on Campus Pride’s Campus Climate Index, visit www.campusclimateindex.org (http://www.campusclimateindex.org). For more details on the LGBT-Friendly National College Fair Program, visit www.campusclimateindex.org/events/

More about Campus Pride

Founded in 2001 and based in Charlotte, NC, Campus Pride is the leading national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students. Campus Pride serves LGBT and ally student leaders and/or campus organizations in the areas of leadership development, support programs and services to create safer, more inclusive LGBT-friendly colleges and universities. It exists to develop, support and give “voice and action” in building future LGBT and ally student leaders.

Believe In — Campus Pride. Campus Pride is the leading national nonprofit organization 501(c)(3) for student leaders and campus organizations working to create safer, more LGBT-friendly colleges and universities. It exists to give “voice and action” in building future LGBT and ally leaders. More info online at (http://www.campuspride.org/)www.campuspride.org.