National online college fair this upcoming March 17 provides LGBTQ students and families new opportunity to find the perfect campus; Sign-up and register now
It’s a program I wish I had known about when I was looking for colleges and universities.
As a young high school senior, finding a university that would affirm my LGBTQ identity was important to me, but I just didn’t know how to find that information. On top of that, I was scared that seeking many of these resources could out me as LGBTQ to my family and peers who did not yet know.
Many campuses struggle with similar problems–how can they show prospective students the ways they support the LGBTQ campus community? How can a campus “come out” as LGBTQ-friendly?
Increasingly, LGBTQ students, their families and their allies are seeking campuses that they can guarantee will be a safe and welcoming environment for themselves and their peers. Campus Pride, the leading national educational organization for LGBTQ and ally college students and campus groups, is making this process much easier with the Campus Pride LGBTQ-Friendly College Fair.
“Students thrive when they can bring their full authentic self to their academic careers, their student engagement efforts, and their co-curricular endeavors,” said Ted Lewis, Associate Director of Common Ground for LGBTQ Campus Life at the University of Richmond in Va. “Having a campus culture where open and out LGBTQ students are embraced and celebrated means we have students that can reach their full potential and not just survive but thrive.”
Many colleges are using the Campus Pride LGBTQ-Friendly College Fairs as a way to show off how supportive their campus is. One such campus is Queens University in Charlotte, N.C., who attended two Campus Pride college fairs, one in their hometown and one in Los Angeles.
“Recently, our admissions office has partnered with our office of Diversity and Inclusion to strengthen our presence within the LGBTQ community,” said Emily Poulton, Admissions Counselor and alumna of Queens University of Charlotte, N.C. “It is nice to be a part of a supportive community event where we can talk to prospective students, families, alumni and community members about the welcoming opportunities at Queens.”
When a campus attends a Campus Pride LGBTQ-Friendly college fair, they are showing that the LGBTQ community is a group they respect and will work hard to provide with a safe and welcoming environment.
“Queens University of Charlotte values diversity and inclusion. We are considered to be one of the most diverse private institutions in the Southeast region,” said Poulton. “Universities should value all diversity. Being immersed in a new community with a diverse group of students only adds to the dialogue that students are having inside and outside of the classroom.”
This can mean the difference between a student having access to the tools they need to be truly successful and a student being in an environment that does not validate who they are or what they need.
For many students, attending a physical college fair for LGBTQ prospective students is not a feasible or safe thing to do. Campus Pride has taken this into consideration. For the second time, Campus Pride is featuring an online college fair, where students can use their computers to explore the colleges and universities that are LGBTQ-friendly. The online college fair, which began last year, allows students to access the information they need to make an informed decision about choosing a campus in a new way.
The online format benefits students who are unable to attend physical college fairs. Students who do not live near the nine cities Campus Pride hosts LGBTQ college fairs or students for whom transportation is an issue can still get their college answers questions online. Students who are not out as LGBTQ or may be questioning can explore the online fair in the privacy of their homes or on their phones, out of the limelight of a public college fair.
This year Campus Pride has hosted college fairs in Charlotte, N.C.; Boston; Los Angeles; Washington; Atlanta;Vancouver, Wash; Chicago and New York City. The fairs, often in partnership with local LGBTQ or education organizations, allow prospective students to get the information they need in a supportive environment.
“[The college fair was] important just because the representatives called me the right thing… they used they/them pronouns when I asked,” said Lissie Mayo, a genderfluid prospective student that attended the LGBTQ college fair in Charlotte, N.C. “Sometimes, I feel like people are judging me or get offended when I ask about these issues.”
These simple acts of respect, like using a person’s correct pronouns, can mean the world for prospective college and university students. Many middle and high schools do not prioritize teaching students about LGBTQ identities, or training staff on respecting LGBTQ students. When a prospective student encounters a college or university campus that does offer this newfound respect, it can give students the hope they need when seeking higher education.
Many of the campuses featured at the college fairs, both physical and online, are listed on the Campus Pride Index, a national listing of LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. The campuses listed on the Index are rated for their ability to fully understand the needs of their LGBTQ students. This index is the only one of its kind, and the benchmarks have become a national standard for campuses that want to become safer and more welcoming for LGBTQ students. The free Index, which was improved Summer 2015 to include higher benchmarks for LGBTQ-friendliness, has over 200 campuses listed for students and their families to explore before attending the college fairs. Interested campuses can join the Index online.
REGISTER & SIGN-UP NOW: The online college fair is on Thursday, March 17, 2016. Prospective students and families may sign-up to attend for free. Campuses interested in attending the Campus Pride LGBTQ-Friendly Online College Fair can do so by registering online. Early registration discounts are available.
Campus Pride freelance writer Allison Marie Turner, an alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, contributed to this article. Follow her on Twitter @amturner1993.
Campus Pride is the leading national educational organization for LGBTQ and ally college students and campus groups building future leaders and safer, more LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. The organization provides resources and services to thousands of college students and nearly 1400 campuses annually. Learn more online at CampusPride.org.