Deemed by some as the “civil rights movement of our time”, progress towards rights, respect and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer (LGBTQ) people still has a long way to go.
Universities campuses are often the frontlines of the LGBTQ rights struggle. Colleges themselves have been among the first public institutions to actively provide safe spaces for queer people by providing LGBTQ community centres or gender-neutral toilets.
The best achievers in this regard are recognised by the Campus Pride Index – a ranking released annually in the United States since 2007.
Very proud to be at a University that has LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs, and practices. Structural support is critical to creating an inclusive environment! @universityofky #LGBTQ #campusprideindex https://t.co/0PuCeKiWkz
— Dr EBP (@doc_ebp) March 8, 2018
Criteria for the index includes: whether there are active LGBTQ student organisations on campus, out LGBT students and staff, LGBT inclusive policies, visible signs of pride, LGBT-inclusive housing and gender-neutral bathrooms, and whether the college offers LGBT or queer studies as a major or minor.
“LBTQ youth and families today want to know what campuses are doing when it comes to inclusive policies, programs and practices,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride and creator of the first Campus Pride Index.
“These are the campuses leading the way for LGBTQ inclusion and who have come out to support LGBTQ students from the first day of classes through graduation day.” The top 25 colleges in the US – most of whom received a perfect 5 out of 5 stars on the index – are:
|Number of fulltime students
|Elon, North Carolina
|Harvey Mudd College
|Indiana University Bloomington
|Ithaca, New York
|Kansas State University
|Saint Paul, Minnesota
|Montclair State University
|Montclair, New Jersey
|The Ohio State University
|The Pennsylvania State University
|University Park, Pennsylvania
|Portland State University
|Princeton, New Jersey
|Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey – New Brunswick
|New Brunswick, New Jersey
|San Diego State University
|San Diego, California
|Southern Oregon University
|University of Colorado, Boulder
|University of Louisville
|University of Massachusetts Amherst
|University of Oregon
|University of Pennsylvania
|University of Washington
|University of Wisconsin–Green Bay
|Green Bay, Wisconsin
|University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
|Washington State University
“The list this year shows more LGBTQ progress than ever, even in more rural conservative places,” said Campus Pride in a statement.
Dr. Genny Beemyn, the coordinator of Campus Pride’s Trans Policy Clearinghouse, said: “It is especially important to see colleges from Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina among the Top 25. If these colleges can become supportive oases in largely anti-LGBTQ states, then other institutions in very conservative states have no excuse not to do likewise.”
While not listed in the 25, the University of Kentucky received 5 out of 5 stars on the Campus Pride Index.
“We are incredibly proud of our five-star rating and very aware of the host of campus partners and student leaders who contributed to us receiving this distinction by putting diversity and inclusivity as a major focus in all that they do each day,” said UK’s Director of LGBTQ* Resources Lance Poston.
“It sends a strong signal to prospective students and employees that UK is a place that values everyone and the unique contributions they make to our special place.”
Dr. Sue Rankin, the volunteer director of Campus Pride’s Q Research Institute for Higher Education said: “It is both exciting and promising to see the diversity and growth of the number of campuses participating in the Campus Pride Index. Particularly, we see institutions thoughtfully considering the inclusion of queer spectrum and trans spectrum policies and programs.”
“In the current political climate, where executive orders by the President of the United States are rescinding decades of progressive work, this work on college campuses is more important than ever,” she said.