America’s Top 50 LGBT-Friendly Colleges & Universities

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY MICHAEL SHIREY

GRAPHIC BY MICHAEL SHIREY

It’s fairly commonplace for students to travel out of state to attend college these days. A distant school may provide the best course of study for a particular interest or it may offer overall excellence not available closer to home. Maybe a school elsewhere in the country ends up being the most affordable option, or it could be a romantic interest that is the draw.

Clearly, though, no one should have to leave home simply because an LGBT-friendly higher education opportunity is not close at hand. Campus Pride, a non-profit that works to improve the climate on campuses nationwide, has for the past seven years provided a data resource for students looking to learn more about how individual colleges work to welcome LGBT students (campusprideindex.org).

Its 2014 ratings — released last week — are based on information provided by 425 institutions, evaluating them according to their performance in eight areas: incorporating LGBT issues into formal policies; institutional commitment to supporting LGBT students; academic life; student life; housing; campus safety; counseling and health; and recruitment and retention efforts.

The benchmarks were established by an advisory board made up of Shane L. Windmeyer, Campus Pride’s founder and executive director, Dr. Genny Beeman, director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Dr. Susan R. Rankin, a retired education professor at Penn State University.

ILLUSTRATION BY MICHAEL SHIREY

GRAPHIC BY MICHAEL SHIREY

In releasing its newest ratings, Campus Pride named a Top 50 ranking of colleges and universities, a group that includes schools located in 24 of the 50 states. As the accompanying graphic shows, 12 of those states have a greater share of the top 50 than their proportion of the total US population would predict.

Most of the best performing states are those where the most significant advances in LGBT rights overall have been achieved. But the top 50 doesn’t tell the whole story. The ratings assign schools anywhere from one to five stars (the best), and while all of the Top 50 earned five stars, not all of the five-star schools were in the Top 50. Schools in Kansas, Kentucky, and Utah were among the five-star schools that are scattered across the other 24 best performing states as well.

At least one college in another 12 states (and the District of Columbia) scored four or four-and-a-half stars — Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia.

And another four states — Arkansas, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia — have at least one school with ratings of three or three-and-a-half stars — the level at which Campus Pride puts a college on its “honor roll.”

Seven states, however, have no school that currently reports pro-LGBT policies that earn them at least three stars — Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming. And it’s worth noting that, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, there are nearly 2,900 four-year colleges and another 1,700 two-year colleges in the US, so there are a lot of schools Campus Pride is not yet hearing from (though some schools which participate in its index don’t authorize their data to be made public as 425 of them do). It’s hard to know exactly what to make of the silence from several thousand higher education institutions on their commitment to LGBT students.

“Campus Pride applauds all campuses who have ‘come out’ on the Index, regardless of their rating,” Windmeyer said. “By doing so these campuses are taking active responsibility for their LGBT campus community. The Campus Pride Index grew for the fifth consecutive 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 Top 50:

ARIZONA

Northern Arizona University

CALIFORNIA

Pomona College

San Diego State University

Stanford University

University of California at Berkeley

University of California at Los Angeles

University of California at Riverside

University of California at Santa Barbara

University of California at Santa Cruz

University of Southern California

CONNECTICUT

Connecticut College

FLORIDA

University of Central Florida

GEORGIA

Emory University

ILLINOIS

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

University of Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago

INDIANA

Indiana University

LOUISIANA

Tulane University

MARYLAND

University of Maryland at College Park

MASSACHUSETTS

Amherst College

Harvard University

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

MICHIGAN

University of Michigan

MINNESOTA

Augsburg College

Macalester College

University of Minnesota at Duluth

University of Minnesota at the Twin Cities

MISSOURI

Washington University

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Dartmouth College

NEW JERSEY

Princeton University

Rutgers University

NEW YORK

Cornell University

Ithaca College

Syracuse University

NORTH CAROLINA

Warren Wilson College

OHIO

Oberlin College

Ohio State University

OREGON

Oregon State University

Portland State University

Southern Oregon University

University of Oregon

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania State University

University of Pennsylvania

RHODE ISLAND

Brown University

University of Rhode Island

VERMONT

University of Vermont

WASHINGTON

Central Washington University

Washington State University

University of Washington

WISCONSIN

University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee

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