In a time of increased challenges to the freedoms and rights of the LGBTQ+ community, 40 institutions of higher education have been named the “Best of the Best” this year at being the most welcoming in the nation.
From the enormous University of Michigan at Ann Arbor to the much smaller Elon University, Campus Pride unveiled the colleges that are “making their communities safer and more welcoming environments for students, faculty and staff.” The ones on the list, including a large number of public four-year institutions, all received five stars for their efforts. Many are going beyond simply catering to one or two subgroups of students in the inclusive acronym.
“We are seeing more and more colleges earn 5 stars because campuses are doing more to support their trans students,” states Dr. Genny Beemyn, the coordinator of Campus Pride’s Trans Policy Clearinghouse. “While all colleges can and should do more to be trans-inclusive, many institutions are taking important steps forward.”
The agency’s Campus Pride Index is a database where students can research institutions that are not only most friendly to gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer and other groups but have imparted policy statements inviting them to campuses. Those colleges and universities offer clubs and extended programming that serve their communities without exception.
Among the five-star champions for LGBTQ+ students and employees is Ithaca College in upstate New York. Going beyond having just a presence on campus, Ithaca launched a fellowship for recent grads and young workers to explore employment in higher education, including student affairs offices. The goal: “become effective leaders and changemakers.” It also added an Open Pages Residential Learning Community (RLC) targeted at transgender and nonbinary students to help them get acclimated to campus with their peers.
“Ithaca College being recognized as one of Campus Pride’s Best of the Best only reinforces my excitement to work for this institution,” Pride fellow Grace Dodsall told the university. “Being the inaugural Pride fellow at an institution with this honor fosters even further excitement for this work—being a member of a campus community that not only accepts queer students but expects them and continues working with and for them.”
In order to get five stars, institutions had to reach a benchmark of 93 percent out of 100 in Campus Pride’s methodology, which is based on eight factors including campus inclusion, safety, resources, support, housing, academic life, and recruitment and retention initiatives. Among the many standouts this year were a few in states that have traditionally leaned conservative—the University of North Florida, Texas Tech University and the University of Texas at Dallas.
“At a time when LGBTQ+ rights and other civil rights are under assault in states across the country, including Texas and Florida, it is as important as ever to recognize the campuses in these states working to create spaces where the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders can learn and flourish,” said Tom Elliott, Campus Pride board chair.
Here are this year’s 40 leading institutions:
- Tufts University
- University of Massachusetts, Amherst
- University of Vermont, VT
- Towson University, MD
- Montclair State University
- Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-New Brunswick
- Adelphi University
- Ithaca College
- Pace University
- Lehigh University
- The Pennsylvania State University
- University of Pennsylvania
- Northern Illinois University
- Southern Illinois University Carbondale
- University of Illinois at Chicago
- Indiana University, Bloomington
- Purdue University
- Kansas State University
- Oakland University
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
- Macalester College, MN
- Minnesota State University-Mankato
- University of Nebraska at Kearney
- Kent State University
- The Ohio State University
- University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
- University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
- University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
- University of North Florida
- University of Louisville
- Elon University
- George Mason University
- Virginia Wesleyan University
- Texas Tech University
- University of Texas at Dallas
- San Diego State University, CA
- University of Colorado at Boulder, CO
- University of Northern Colorado, CO
- Southern Oregon University
- Washington State University, WA