Getting involved in LGBTQ student life on your college campus

By Julia Schwenderman, Syracuse University 2022, Campus Pride 2021 Summer Intern 

The college experience is about more than just the program you’re in or the major you study. For many LGBTQ youth, going to college is their first time living away from home. When choosing to attend your college or university, you should know what resources are available to you as a LGBTQ student. Having active LGBTQ student groups and support services are important factors of a LGBTQ-friendly campus.

Getting involved in LGBTQ student life on campus allows queer and trans youth to learn more about themselves and others like them. Also, it opens the door to leadership opportunities, support systems, and professional networking. At schools like Elon University, there are many ways for LGBTQ students to get involved on campus.

 Finding LGBTQ on-campus groups and organizations

Are you wondering what resources and groups are available to you on your campus? Check out the Campus Pride Map to find LGBTQ college groups and support services. Available resources include Pride student groups, LGBTQ alumni groups, LGBTQ resource centers and safe spaces. Also, your campus’s LGBTQ-friendly ranking in the Campus Pride Index features evaluations of on-campus resources and student life.

Some schools have extensive lists of student-run LGBTQ groups, like the University of Michigan. Groups like AHAVA, Stonewall Democrats and TransForm are led by students for students. These groups are a great way to make friends and find your LGBTQ community on campus.

If you attend a smaller college or university, you may be limited in your student group options. But no matter the size of your campus, there are other support systems in place for LGBTQ students. LGBTQ resource centers, like the one at Duke University, receive campus funding and are run by LGBTQ faculty and staff. Campus centers educate students and faculty, influence campus policy, host on-campus events and help enforce disciplinary action. To get involved with any part of campus life, start with your resource centers!

LGBTQ living learning communities and residence halls

A quintessential part of the first-year college experience is living in a residence hall. Living in an on-campus dorm is an important social environment for students. If you are a student seeking LGBTQ-friendly housing, see if your school offers gender-inclusive student housing.

Many colleges and universities offer specialized living learning communities. These dorms plan programming around shared passions or identities among residents. Your school’s living learning communities may include LGBTQ housing for students looking to join a community. Schools like Guilford College and Bucknell University host entire residence halls exclusively for LGBTQ housing.

 Seeking a community elsewhere on campus

There are many ways to find a community on campus outside of designated LGBTQ groups and spaces. Attend your activities fair or talk to your peers about other clubs that are LGBTQ inclusive. Find out if your school has trans-inclusive intramural sports and other resources for trans athletes from TransAthlete.

Lambda 10 Project and on-campus Greek life

College students can join social, professional and multicultural Greek organizations. Most students picture single-sex Greek chapters when they think of recruitment, but there are other gender-inclusive options for LGBTQ students who want to join. Sororities like Gamma Rho Lambda offer a social support system to LGBTQ college students. LGBTQ Greek College Tour brings information about Black LGBTQ Greek life to campuses across the country. If you are a member of a Greek chapter, join the Lambda 10 Ally Network to make all Greek life a safe space for LGBTQ members.

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