Many prospective LGBTQ college students are nervous about applying to and choosing where to continue their higher education. Many had some negative experiences in high school, and they want to make sure that the University they attend will make them feel welcome, comfortable, and secure in their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. To assist students with this process, Noodle Education and Campus Pride partnered to create a list of 10 signs of a LGBTQ-friendly College Campus.
1. Active LGBTQ Student Organization
Campus LGBTQ organizations offer a sense of community. Such groups are critical to the well-being of LGBTQ students, as they provide social networks, educational and emotional support systems, leadership opportunities, and outlets for activism. Some students may look for LGBTQ groups specific to gender identity/expression, students of color, religious affiliations, or special interests/activities.
2. Out LGBTQ Students
“Where are people like me?” That is how one LGBTQ high schooler put it. Students should look for other visible and active LGBTQ students on campus. The LGBTQ community encompasses many individual backgrounds and identities, and it’s important that prospective students find a campus where they can feel at home.
3. Out LGBTQ Faculty and Staff
Out LGBTQ faculty and staff members signal an inclusive environment. They can also serve as advisors and bases of support throughout the college years. Keep in mind that if a school’s faculty and staff members are not comfortable being out, then it is unlikely that LGBTQ students will want to attend that college.
4. LGBTQ-Inclusive Policies
Campus policies demonstrate a commitment to inclusion. Find ratings on LGBTQ benchmarks for policy inclusion at CampusPrideIndex.org, a valuable resource for students searching for LGBTQ-friendly colleges.
5. Visible Signs of Pride
Visible symbols of pride–such as rainbow flags and pink triangles–in the student union, campus offices, and social venues create a sense of openness, safety, and inclusion. Their prominent prescence also sends a clear signal that the campus is LGBTQ-welcoming. Other visible signs of openness include Ally or Safe Space/Safe Zone program stickers and buttons.
6. Out LGBTQ Allies from the Top Down
Allies are essential to LGBTQ students, especially when they are active in LGBTQ-friendly college administrations. LGBTQ students should look for examples of allies standing up for LGBTQ students on campus. In particular, take note of top-level administrators, such as the president, vice president, or deans, who include LGBTQ issues in the campus dialogue. Visible allies are also important in the classroom and in student life.
7. LGBTQ-inclusive Housing and Gender-Inclusive Bathrooms
LGBTQ-themed housing and gender-inclusive bathrooms contribute to positive living and learning communities. Learn more about fostering safety for trans students through housing and bathroom policies at CampusPride.org/TPC .
8. Established LGBTQ Center & Support Services
Many LGBTQ students seek committed campus resources, such as an established LGBTQ center where students can find support and learn about services. If a dedicated center is lacking, students might look for paid LGBTQ staff members within the Women’s Center or Multicultural Office. Devoting resources in these areas demonstrates an institutional commitment to LGBTQ students similar to that shown for other diverse populations.
9. LGBTQ/Queer Studies Academic Major or Minor
Some high school students are looking for a college where they will have opportunities to study LGBTQ issues–by taking classes on LGBTQ/queer identity, politics, and history. Some may even graduate with an academic major or minor in LGBTQ/queer studies.
10. Progressive Culture and Vibrant LGBTQ Social Scene
These are two separate yet interrelated issues. Prospective students should seek an environment where they’ll be accepted fully for all their intersectional identities (race, faith, gender, sexual identity, gender identity, and so on). For some LGBTQ students, living on a campus that offers queer or queer-friendly entertainment choices is paramount; other students may prefer to venture off-campus for these and other social activities.
These ten things to look for are a great starting point to determine if campuses are LGBTQ-friendly. Students with additional concerns should contact the school directly with their specific questions in order to make sure they will be safe.
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 collegestudents and nearly 1400 campuses annually. Learn more online at CampusPride.org.