50 Great LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges

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By Gabrielle Kratsas

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When it comes to finding a school that is LGBTQ-friendly, it’s not as much about whether colleges and universities give LGBTQ students special treatment as much as it is about how these colleges and universities teach acceptance and understanding for all people. To what extent are today’s schools not only helping their LGBTQ students feel accepted, safe and comfortable with their surroundings, but also teaching those outside of the LGBTQ community about awareness, acceptance and respect for all of their fellow students, regardless of their identity and orientation?

Schools are doing much more than they used to, and their efforts are improving each year. Research shows that today’s colleges and universities want to be viewed as safe and welcoming places to all students, and they are happy to go the extra mile to ensure that they are. Some efforts these schools are continuously working to improve include safety concerns, recruitment, awareness and education both in and outside of the LGBTQ community.

Since last year, Campus Pride has doubled their annual number of “Top LGBT-friendly Colleges & Universities” because of the immensely-growing progress in outfitting College campuses and curriculum to better accommodate the LGBTQ community. In Campus Pride’s 2014 “Top 50” article, Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer said their research found 56 five star-rated schools for LGBTQ friendliness, which is their “largest number to date.”

The following list was compiled using the Campus Pride Index, which self-assesses LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices, The Princeton Review and individual research of each school. The order in which they’re presented is not intended to imply a ranking.

50.University of Southern California in Los Angeles

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USC has LGBT-supportive organizations for undergraduates, graduates, high school students, freshmen, staff, faculty, alumni and students from other schools.

Every year since 1990, USC’s Queer & Ally Student Assembly publishes the OUTlist in the Daily Trojan on National Coming Out Day. The list is a declaration of support for the LGBT and Ally Community signed by those supportive individuals among students, staff, faculty and alumni.

The LGBT Resource Center provides an abundance of online resources, programs and involvement opportunities to anyone within the USC community. Some of their signature programs include an Athlete Chat, Greek Chat, uRap—a weekly confidential discussion group—and the “Safe Zone” Program.

USC Housing also offers the Rainbow Floor to undergraduate and graduate students, which is a “special interest resident community that provides support, education and advocacy opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and ally (LGBTQA) students,” according to the website.

49. Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C.

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The Princeton Review ranked Warren Wilson No. 5 in its top 20 LGBT-Friendly Schools.

This school has a newly-formed Gender and Relationship Center as well as LGBT-specific course offerings, transgender student housing options, gender neutral restroom facilities and organizations like S.A.F.E. (Student Alliance for Equality) and EMPOWER. Instead of focusing only on LGBT support, EMPOWER offers events, programs and discussion circles that address all issues of social injustice and inequality, including—but not limited to—racism, sexism, classims and heterosexism.

48. Tulane University in New Orleans

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The good people of Tulane’s Office for Gender and Sexual Diversity (OGSD) work to establish a climate of respect, understanding and appreciation for diverse genders, sexualities, cultures and histories. They work closely with the Office of Multicultural Affairs to address the ways in which gender and sexuality intersect with race, ethnicity, class, etc. In a nutshell, the OGSD offers resources, programs, mentorship, advising, education, consultation, workshops and LGBT-supportive spaces on campus.

Through the OGSD, Tulane works with other universities, non-profits and other outside organizations to promote, entertain, empower and support their LGBT community and their allies. One program example is the Pride Prom—an annual prom event that benefits BreakOUT!, a New Orleans non-profit that advocates and mentors LGBT youth.

Online, Tulane students can find a long list of student, administrator, faculty and staff allies as well as resources for housing, academic opportunities and more.

47. Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

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Cornell’s LGBT Resource Center created the LGBTQ Guide to Cornell, which provides a colorful tour of the LGBT resources, history, academics, traditions and leisure options around campus. Each point on this map features classes, events, etc. for the community and friends, all of which are fully described on the back of the map.

Students can connect through the Resource Center’s faQ Online Chat, a confidential student mentoring service where other students will answer questions about all LGBTQ concerns.

At Cornell, students will find LGBT groups of all shapes and sizes, such as LGBTQA First Year Group, Ga’avah: LGBT Jewish Group, Greeks United, Mosaic—for same gender-loving people of color—and the Graduate and Professional Student LGBT Collective. The university also has a “world-renowned” Human Sexuality Collection within their libraries.

46. Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y.

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Through the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach & Services at Ithaca, students have access to multiple LGBT-directed scholarship applications, online resources, social events, organizations, educational presentations, training workshops, a reading list, and other programs and services. Ithaca even has a tobacco prevention and cessation program directed specifically to LGBT students.

Ithaca’s four LGBT-specific student organizations—Created Equal, Athlete Ally, PRISM and Spectrum—are all dedicated to addressing and providing solutions within the LGBT community.

An extra bonus for both Cornell and Ithaca LGBT students is the schools’ location. Ithaca, N.Y. is a great town for LGBT and Allied people because of the open and out city and council legislators, many welcoming and affirming religious institutions, year-round sport leagues catered to the community, LGBTA-owned restaurants, stores and services, a city LGBTQ Task Force, an LGBT Family Building Program at a local family planning clinic and two community LGBT choruses.

45. University of California in Berkeley, Calif.

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Berkeley’s Gender Equity Resource Center (GenEq) has roots in the 1970s, and its community center is the spot on campus for students, faculty, staff and alumni to connect for resources, services, education and programs concerning gender and sexuality.

Through the center, students can find many resources on student organizations, such as oSTEM, Q@Haas and the Queer Straight Alliance; educational workshops for subjects like Transgender 101, sexism and the Ally Program; and discussion groups, such as “M^3: Men, Masculinity and Manhood,” “QPOC Together: Queer People of Color” and “Women’s Chat Circles.”

LGBT students can also find inclusive housing through the Unity House program, which offers students a mixed-gender roommate option, and Unity House embraces honest dialogue about gender, gender roles, sexuality and interpersonal relationships. The Oscar Wilde House Co-Op, which “welcomes and lavishes affection upon all open-minded residents and guests, regardless of sexual orientation.”

44. Princeton University in Princeton, N.J.

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Princeton’s LGBT Center is nationally-recognized and the school has been nationally ranked as a top university for LGBT students repeatedly since 2006, according to College Pride.

On the Center’s homepage, you will find a list of almost-daily events going on for the week, as well as a list of the gender-free bathrooms around campus. The rest of the website highlights the 17 LGBTQA student groups, weekly programs, on, off-campus and online resources, peer education, Lavender Graduation, programs like “Q’nnect” and discussion and support groups. At the Center, LGBT students and friends will find that and more while developing a personal relationship with fellow students, staff, faculty and alumni.

When it comes to LGBT academics, Princeton’s LGBT & Queer Studies is constantly expanding. Campus Pride quoted a male Princeton senior who said, “This last semester, I took a course entitled Queer Theory and Politics. Unlike most other courses at Princeton, this one allowed us to actively apply what we had learned in class in a real-world context.”

43. University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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Michigan’s Spectrum Center was the first college LGBT resource center in the U.S.; it was founded in 1971. Today, the office has grown to four full-time professional positions. The university also strives to employ faculty who study and teach LGBT issues.

U of M has a non-discrimination policy, which includes sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Students can find gender-neutral bathrooms around campus, and they have the option to use a preferred name different from the one on their birth certificate. Transgender healthcare coverage and gender-neutral housing are also available to students.

The Spectrum Center hosts a long list of student and faculty LGBT-supported groups. With groups that range from “Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians, and Allies in Medicine (BGLAM)” to “Stonewall Democrats,” it’ll be hard not to fit in as an LGBT student at Michigan.

42. Connecticut College in New London, Conn.

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Connecticut’s LGBTQ Resource Center serves as a resource for the entire campus –not just those who identify themselves under the LGBT umbrella—to learn about issues related to sexuality and gender identity, according to the Center’s homepage.

It’s difficult not to feel comfortable at the Center because of the welcoming attitude from staff and students, comfortable couches, working fireplace, occasional refreshments and fuzzy blankets. Five LGBT-related programs—like student trainings, workshops and the “Queer Camel Welcome Program”—and special events take place at the Center regularly.

Online, students can find resources for on campus, academic research and youth, local, regional and national organizations.

41. University of Illinois in Chicago, Ill.

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The UIC Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) has been around for 20 years, and their programs are designed to highlight LGBTQ identities and the layers within, including race, class, ability, geography, immigration status and religious affiliation.

Just last year, both Campus Pride and the Huffington Post named UIC among the top 25 LGBTQ-friendliest campuses in the country.

Ongoing programs at Center include Queer Compass, a series of workshops to help LGBTQA students navigate and become more acquainted with the university, and Queer Oral History, a vast collection UIC LGBTQ student and faculty life experiences.

40. Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.

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In the spring of 2011, the Department of Multicultural Life led an initiative to convert a number of restrooms into all-gender restrooms around campus. The campus now has over 15.

The Department of Multicultural Life hosts LGBTQ@MAC to help integrate and affirm the individuals, discourses, thoughts and experiences of marginalized people into the campus community. And from start to finish, this department supports the LGBT students. Every year, the DPL sponsors the Lavender Reception—a fall semester reception celebrating the queer community on campus for students to learn about resources and support services—and the Lavender Graduation, which recognizes the contributions and accomplishments of Macalester’s LGBT graduating seniors.

To increase the LGBT community’s visibility on campus, Macalester faculty and staff members, who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and/or asexual, include their names on the online Out and Proud community list.

Macalester also ranked No. 15 on The Princeton Reviews Top 20 LGBT-Friendly Schools.

39.Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pa.

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In 2009, Penn State initiated a Sexuality and Gender minor for undergraduates, and the school offers more than 30 LGBT-related courses. Through these courses, as well as other workshops and “Straight Talks,” students and faculty from a wide range of beliefs and backgrounds educate the campus community on sexual orientation, gender identity, oppression and diversity.

Since 2006, undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the university’s student health insurance plan are eligible for hormone therapy and surgery as part of their regular coverage. The school also provides domestic partnership benefits like health care, dental and eye insurance and gym passes.

Penn State’s president even has an advisory group for the LGBT community on campus, called the Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equity.

38. University of California in Los Angeles

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UCLA’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Campus Resource Center is a member of the David Bohnett Foundation and the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals.

The Center’s homepage consists of a list of colorful flyers promoting social events like “Cookies & Queers”—a social for first years and transfers—and the Annual LGBTQ Fall Resource Fair. There are also links to resources like the campus’ Out List, LGBTQ scholarship applications and UCLA’s Rainbow Connection, a confidential chat that connects students with trained peer mentors.

They offer services like outreach and education, advocacy, student counseling and an ally network, as well as the Rae Lee LGBT Center Library—one of the largest libraries of its kind at a college with almost 4,000 books and periodicals for and about LGBT people.

37. University of Chicago in Chicago, Ill.

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In the spirit of National Coming Out Day (October 11), the University of Chicago’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Student Life celebrates OUTober, a free event where they host an LGBT-related speaker like transgender activist CeCe McDonald (pictured above).

Students have access to over 10 LGBTQ student organizations, like Outlaw, a LGBT group for law students, and Queers United In Power (QUIP), UChicago’s LGBTQ activism and social justice organization.

While celebrating National Coming Out Day in 2010, UChicago’s Office of LGBTQ Student Life started their “Coming Out Stories” project, which shares the stories of campus community members through written narratives and video. All of these are available online.

36. Portland State University in Portland, Ore.

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The Queer Resource Center at Portland offers a queer student services program, which offers academic support to students exploring their sexual orientations and gender identities. These services include academic coaching and a college success course for LGBTQIA students.

Students also have the opportunity to follow PSU’s Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) interdisciplinary program, where women’s studies advisors work closely with each student to create a study course that matches the student’s academic interests and post-graduate goals.

Online, LGBT-identified military personnel and student athletes can find helpful resources on campus as well as in and around Portland.

35. Amherst College in Amherst, Mass.

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Other than free printing services and free coffee and tea, the Queer Resource Center at Amherst offers a library with over 500 books and DVDs, queer magazines, periodicals and newspapers, Queer/Trans 101 Trainings and more.

Some examples of Amherst LGBT-supporting student groups are Men of the Valley, a confidential social-support group for self-expressed men, and Pride Alliance, the main student organization “for LGBTQIAP students.”

For those LGBT students looking for work related to sexuality and gender, the Queer Resource Center has a page dedicated to a list of organizations for job and internship opportunities, such as Social Services and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

34. University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass.

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Amherst, Mass. seems to know what to do when it comes to making LGBT-students feel at home. It doesn’t hurt that Amherst is located within the Pioneer Valley, which has a large LGBT population.

Following the other LGBT-pioneering universities, UMass established the Program for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Concerns in 1985, which is now “The Stonewall Center: A Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender Educational Resource Center.”

At The Stonewall Center, students have access to free and anonymous HIV and STD testing, bulletin board kits for campus residence assistants, ally training, career services and many other helpful resources.

UMass also has the nation’s oldest LGBTQA residence hall program. The Gender-Inclusive Housing residential community, the Spectrum floor—the LGBTA living-learning community—and housing assignments for trans students are all available at request.

33. Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minn.

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Augsburg’s mission is to foster “intentional diversity in its life and work,” which is why the school was renamed a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) institution by Reconciling Works: Lutherans for Full Participation in 2009; the statement that accompanies the recognition means that Augsburg is “welcoming and affirming to all people in regard to their gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation.”

Since then, Augsburg’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA) Student Services works to improve the campus environment for everyone by providing resources to LGBT students and by teaching and training other students, staff and faculty to improve upon the inclusive environment.

The school now features all-gendered restrooms, a list of which can be found online, as well as LGBT-related awards and scholarships, the campus Queer Pride Alliance organization and other supportive services, programs and even an LGBTQIA Leadership Retreat.

32. University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt.

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Vermont’s LGBTQA Center@UVM is an office of the Diversity & Equity Unit on campus and a proud member of the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. The Center’s sponsored website, Q(U)VM features current events within the campus LGBT community, news and valuable resources for faculty and staff, prospective students, current students and alumni.

The website also hosts a map and links to helpful off-campus resources and organizations such as the R.U.1.2? Queer Community Center, Outright Vermont—Vermont’s queer youth organization—and the Transgender Health Clinic.

UVM students can access the ChangeMakers project online—a campus project that uses crowd sourcing to record the history of LGBT-related change at UVM. The project is also meant to remember and honor those who contributed to these changes. Each ChangeMaker has his or her own page that tells his or her story of unity and determination.

31. University of California in Riverside, Calif.

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On Riverside’s LGBT Resource Center website, students can see images of their fellow LGBT-proud students by scrolling through the Faces of Pride. These students share their pride out loud by posting their names, classes, majors, pictures and a quote about why they are proud to be LGBT.

The LGBT Resource Center is a member of UCR’s Common Ground Collective. With fellow departments, staff, students, alumni and community members, the collective shares positive goals about community building, diversity training and social justice education. Students who wish to join the collective go on a leadership retreat to bring together their varied backgrounds and define collective responses to issues at UCR.

Every year, the Center celebrates several LGBT-related events, such as Q-Camp to welcome new and returning LGBT students and their allies during UCR’s Welcome Week, and “The Coming Out Monologues,” which is a positive theater project each spring that celebrates the diversity of coming out experiences.

30. Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J.

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Rutgers offers more LGBT housing opportunities than many other colleges and universities. They have the Livingston Social Justice Learning Community, which offers residents an free alternative spring break, Rainbow Perspectives for students interested in exploring LGBT issues outside of the classroom, Roommate-Matching for students who wish to live with someone else interested in LGBT issues and Gender Neutral Housing in four different residence halls, where students can select a known roommate of any gender.

On the last Friday of every month, Rutgers’ Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities hosts SAFE(R) Space Training, a three-hour training session for students who wish to become more-effective allies and advocate for LGBT students and those questioning their sexuality. The training is free, and it’s available to students, faculty and staff; all you need to do is RSVP online.

Rutgers is also a supporter of the Language Matters Campaign, which teaches all students about “Microaggressions: The big impact of ‘the little things.’” The campaign makes students aware of saying words and phrases that, to them, might not seem like anything, but could be hurtful to someone else in earshot.

29. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in Milwaukee, Wis.

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According to their website, UWM’s LGBT Resource Center remains one of the nation’s top campuses for LGBT students “because our dedication to the student experience goes far beyond just the LGBT Resource Center. We actively engage with other departments on campus to create an affirming and welcoming educational environment for all students. Our campus has also been home to some groundbreaking strides for the LGBT community.”

UWM offers LGBT workshops that vary from introductory to advanced levels on a large variety of topics—not just what’s listed online. Their workshops, like LGBT 101 and Ally Development, can vary from 30 minutes to two hours, but those at the Resource Center prefer “too much rather than too little time.”

The Center also provides multiple ways that all students can become involved with the LGBT community on campus, and they really put the emphasis on “all” students. They host non-stop events, which are all announced on their Twitter, @UWMLGBTRC, and they offer many volunteer and student organization opportunities.

28. Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

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The Princeton Review named Oberlin No. 2 on their list of Top 20 LGBT-Friendly Schools, and this isn’t the first time Oberlin has made it into the top rankings on the subject. Actually, according to the college’s history, Oberlin has been referred to as “queer” since 1950 because outsiders feared the school’s effeminacy, homosexuality and openness to rooming black and white students together.

Oberlin may be a small liberal arts school in what seems to be the-middle-of-nowhere, Ohio, but the student body is extremely diverse and accepting. LGBT resources and information are housed alongside other groups of students—as well as faculty, staff and community partners—who have been historically disenfranchised from higher education in the Multicultural Resource Center.

The MRC offers a plethora of LGBT-related workshops, programs and organizations, such as Kinsey 1-5, which describes itself as “the group for people who are bisexual, unlabeled, unsure, have fluid sexuality, or who are generally ‘in the middle,’” and Queers and Allies of Faith, which encourages members to explore the intersections of spirituality and sexuality.

27. Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

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Also housed within the Multicultural Center, OSU’s LGBT programming initiatives aim to foster allies from all constituency groups, build a better-connected community, live the values of social justice through dialogue and learning, educate community members and help improve the skill sets of student leaders.

From September through April, the Center celebrates one or more different LGBT events every month, such as Transgender Awareness Week and LGBTQ History Month. Throughout October, the MC presents films, hold panel discussions and conducts skill-building workshops that frame the theme of “Telling Our Stories” for LGBTQ History Month. Other forms of celebration offered by the MC are listed online.

LGBT students will find many valuable resources through the MC, like a list of gender and sexuality studies programs, a declaration of gender designation change, Central Ohio LGBTQ community organizations, LGBTQ counseling groups and more.

26. Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz.

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The LGBTQA Resources and Support center enforces inclusion of all identities within LGBT communities, including race, ethnicity, gender, class, culture, age, ability, size, faith, national origin and immigration status.

NAU also has an LGBTQIA Commission, which is organized to promote acceptance, respect and appreciation for every member of the campus community, including extended campuses, students, faculty and staff. The Commission holds monthly all-member meetings, which are open to those who wish to join; all of the meeting minutes are available online. They’re also building their own scholarship fund for active members of the LGBT community on campus, and they’ve created a faculty and staff “Out and Proud” list, which provides names, titles, orientations and emails to those on the list.

As for housing, NAU has an LGBTQIA-specific Residential Learning Community, where students majoring in programs like Women and Gender Studies, history and sociology can live together. In this community, students have the opportunity to attend social and academic programs with other similar students, interact with faculty outside of class and get to know an upper-division community mentor who shares a similar major or interest area.

25. Washington State University in Pullman, Wash.

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On Campus Pride’s “LGBT-Friendly Campus Report Card,” the only thing that WSU is missing is insurance coverage for transgender hormone replacement therapy and surgery.

The Gender Identity, Expression, and Sexual Orientation Resource Center (GIESORC) provides workshops, invites speakers to campus, promotes media and awareness campaigns and develops and administers virtual and physical resources to offer LGBT-related education to all of the WSU community. The Center offers resources for every group imaginable, such as athletics, Muslim, Native American, Undocumented and much more.

Through Student OUTreach, GIESORC offers a social hour every Tuesday, a variety of educational brochures, many student scholarships, a mentor program and gender-inclusive housing.

24. Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

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Washington U offers students a non-discrimination policy inclusive of gender identity, expression and sexual orientation, gender variant inclusive student health care, gender-neutral housing and bathrooms and classroom experiences that focus on the lives of individuals within the LGBT community.

While browsing WUSTL’s website, it becomes very apparent that LGBT individuals aren’t just part of their own community. Students can find LGBT resources on the Diversity website, under Student Involvement and Leadership and in the School of Medicine.

Some LGBT-specific organizations include the Alternative Lifestyles Association, a Student Union-recognized group dedicated to bringing resources to campus and the St. Louis community to improve attitudes toward sexuality; and Open, a safe and supportive group that meets every two weeks for those at all stages of coming out.

23. University of California in Santa Barbara, Calif.

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Every year, UCSB’s Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity kicks off the academic semester with the “Young, Wild, and Free” dance party and drag show. This party, along with other entertaining events like the Center’s 15th Anniversary Gala and Coming Out Monologues, are featured on the Center’s homepage.

The Center’s resources are extremely helpful to incoming students. Online, students can find in-depth descriptions on how to navigate life as an LGBT individual at UCSB. From housing to the LGBTQ Studies Minor, this page answers all questions a new or prospective student may have.

The On-Going Education Workshops on the LGBT community cover Safe Zone training and topics like religion and sexual orientation. The Center offers these workshops to groups, offices, organizations and entire departments at UCSB in order to unify the campus as much as possible.

22. University of Washington in Seattle, Wash.

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Not only are LGBT students protected by the anti-discrimination code at UW, but they’re also protected by the state of Washington. Washington is also a marriage equality state.

The Q Center at UW is “where justice, equality, compassion and respect prevail.” The Center’s website is a wealth of LGBT information. There, students can take a virtual tour of the Center, they can sign up for a queer mentoring program and they can find all relevant resources on the services, education and programming that the Q Center provides.

Students can also read the multiple blogs that the Q Center hosts, like Dear Queer, an anonymous advice blog for those who don’t feel comfortable addressing their questions in a physical encounter space. Have a question? Simply type it into the text box online, click ask look for your answer in an upcoming blog post.

21. University of Rhode Island in Kingston, R.I.

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According to Campus Pride’s “LGBT-Friendly Campus Report Card” for URI, the only thing missing from this university is an LGBT studies program.

The LGBTQ Center on campus has a wonderful motto: “You don’t have to come out to come in!” Through their initiatives, groups and events, the Center invites everyone to explore their own and others’ identities. Just within one day, the Center hosts four events: Coming Out Week, a community breakfast, Safer Sex Workshop and a “Variety” talent show.

Just last fall, the Center launched their brand new Gender, Equity and Leadership in Sexuality Living Learning Community. Students living in the LLC work on projects and attend community events that reinforce the Center’s cornerstones. Since the school lacks an LGBT studies program, this LLC’s co-curricular purpose is founded in the gender and women’s studies program.

20. San Diego State University in San Diego, Calif.

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At SDSU, students can study to get a minor, major, graduate certificate and a career in LGBT studies. This is the secnod university nationwide to offer a degree in LGBT studies. The school also offers scholarships to LGBT and ally students.

The Pride Center at SDSU is a brand new space that offers its own programming and services as well as resources from around the rest of the campus. The Center has an Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter to keep up with its students and reach as many as possible. Among the Center’s groups at SDSU are the LGBTQ and Ally Sorority and Fraternity.

The City of San Diego also serves as the backdrop for a rich LGBT community.

19. University of Minnesota in Duluth, Minn.

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The Queer and Allied Student Union (QASU) is one of the most active and visible student organizations on campus. The group is led by a board of five students, who were elected by their peers. QASU hosts two ballroom drag shows annually, which work as fundraising to cover the costs of attending the Minnesota Out College Conference and the Midwest conference.

Office Director Angela Nichols runs the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Services at UMD. The services that she helps students with, along with the information and resources available through the office, are endless. Nichols’ email is listed under almost every page of the office’s website as a reminder that she is there to help any student with any need. She is also the person who meets directly with any student who seeks LGBT advising.

18. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in Minneapolis, Minn.

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College Pride ranked UMN at the very top of their list for Gay-Friendly Colleges and Universities. On their breakdown of “Inclusion Factors,” they rated UMN five out of five stars for every factor, like LGBT policy inclusion, academic life, campus safety, student life, etc. Most other schools on this list received a four-and-a-half out of five stars on at least one of these individual factors.

UMN really does take the extra step to make LGBT students feel welcome and comfortable. To improve the campus climate, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally Programs Office offers academic trainings, through which they’ve trained thousands of students on GLBTA identities. The Office has partnerships with other departments like American Stuides, Biology, Psychology, Social Work and Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies. The office has also trained the UMN police officers and security personnel.

Just within the Twin Cities campus, the Office sponsors over 40 GLBTA groups and initiatives, like Pride @ Works, Gender Justice Collective and Tongues Untied.

17. Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

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Harvard has separate websites for every type of LGBT member of the Harvard community, like BAGELS, Harvard’s Queer Jewish Organization, HUBBS, for BGTLQ business students, LGBT Faculty & Staff, LGBT Alumni/ae and LBGT graduate students.

However, on the website for the main Office of BGLTQ Student Life, students can find services, resources, organizations, news, events and an “Out” list. The Office works with the Queer Advisory Council (QuAC) for advising on BGLTQ issues on campus. QuAC also awards grant to Harvard College student groups seeking to host BGLTQ-related events, and they serve as a forum for BGLTQ-identified student group leaders to discuss issues and coordinate planning.

16. Brown University in Providence, R.I.

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Both the LGBTQ Center and the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center at Brown share staff and resources to support students around issues of gender and sexuality. The Center serves as a focal point for campus LGBTQ resources, services and programs.

The Center encourages all students to volunteer there, do a class project or complete an unpaid internship. They also sponsor student groups and support groups like GLAAM, which aims to improve the health care for LGBT people within the medical community, and Borderlands, a support group for any students who identify as transgender, transsexual, genderqueer and/or intersex.

Numerous events every month take place at the Center. Just within October, the Center is hosting free and anonymous HIV testing, a student and family interactive panel, “Queer+Asian” meetings and “GuyTalk” meetings, where queer male-identified students, faculty and staff can meet and hold discussions in a safe place.

15. Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.

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According to Campus Pride, “Indiana University prohibits discrimination and harassment based on arbitrary considerations of such characteristics as age, color, disability, ethnicity, sex, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or veteran status.”

The GLBT Student Support Services Office works with the other cultural centers and campus offices to ensure that campus is a welcoming, safe and positive place for all students. The Office website lists all faculty and staff from other departments, schools and offices that they consider friends to the LGBT community.

The City of Bloomington has been recognized for being inclusive. OutTraveler rated the city No. 1 “Surprisingly Gay Small Town Destination” in 2008. Bloomington also has an anti-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation and identity.

14. University of California in Santa Cruz, Calif.

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Through the Cantú Queer Center at UCSC, students can find LGBT-related academic courses, such as “Gender and Development,” campus health support resources and information about the LGBT community off-campus.

The Center also hosts a “GALA Gallery,” where different LGBT students exhibit their art each semester with their own personal story attached.

Every year, students have a litter of fun LGBT-sponsored events they can attend on campus, such as fall and winter mixers for undergraduates and graduates, a “Glitterball,” a queer fashion show, queer prom and more. Some clubs and organizations offered through the Center include Queer Geeks, a club where queers meet to play board, card and video games, Queer Book Club and Theta Pi Sigma, an all-inclusive queer Greek organization.

13. Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill.

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The LGBTQ Resource Center provides learning and teaching to students, faculty, staff, community partners, classes and administrative offices, such as the Housing Department, Counseling Center, Public Safety and New Student Programs. Staff and volunteer members conduct classroom presentations, provide resources to academic classes addressing LGBT issues, maintain the research listserves and offer Safe Zone training sessions.

Every Thursday night of the fall and spring semesters, the Queer Mentors Program invites students from all walks of life to explore their identities through weekly group discussions, information sharing and various other network building opportunities.

12. Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore.

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The Associated Students of Oregon State University (ASOSU) has a Queer Affairs Task Force. According to their site, “Queer Affairs aims to ensure there are adequate resources and information dealing with advocacy to students, as well as provide information that is educational to the student body that deals with queer related subjects in advocacy.” By volunteering with this task force, students can earn up to three academic credit per term while helping to put an end to discrimination and homophobia on campus.

Another organization, the Rainbow Continuum, serves as a welcoming and safe space for diverse communities to interact and relate with each other, educate the rest of OSU about the LGBT community and provide references, resources and a network of support to students within the LGBT community at OSU.

At the campus Pride Center, students will find other services and programs catered to the LGBT student community.

11. Southern Oregon University in Ashland

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SOU Residential Education Services created gender-inclusive housing. Students who apply to live on the gender-inclusive floor of Shasta Hall are not required to identify their gender.

According to Campus Pride, many of SOU’s majors and minors offer courses related to queer studies. Specifically, the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies program features LGBT-related courses on a regular basis.

Through the Queer Resource Center, students have access to social, cultural and educational programs and events year round. The Gender Sexuality Union has brought acts like Athens Boys and Katastrophe to campus for fun nights with the LGBT community.

10. Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y.

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Syracuse is home to many LGBTQA students, faculty and staff. According to Campus Pride, the staff at Syracuse’s LGBT Resource Center is engaged with city, state and national organizations to address current concerns related to gender identity, expression and sexual orientation.

The school offers an LGBT Studies program minor to students, which introduces them to the interdisciplinary field of LGBT studies. They also have an LGBT Learning Community open to all students who are interested in exploring sexuality, gender and the body with faculty from the LGBT Studies program and the LGBT Resource Center. For freshman and transfer students, the school offers the LGBT First Year Forum Class, which centers on LGBT issues.

Within the administrative student body, the University Senate Committee on LGBT Concerns works to improve the campus climate for those within the LGBT community at Syracuse.

9. Emerson College in Boston, Mass.

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Although Emerson isn’t in Campus Pride’s Top 50 list, it ranked No.3 on The Princeton Review’s Top 20 list this year and No. 1 on the same list last year. As a school for communication and the arts, Emerson remains a great college for LGBT students, faculty and staff.

The GLBTQ Student Life program, which is housed within the Division of Student Affairs, provides support, services and resources to the LGBT community at Emerson. One of the groups supported by GLBTQ Student Life is E.A.G.L.E. (Emerson’s Alliance for Gays, Lesbians and Everyone). Emerson established E.A.G.L.E. to promote visibility and acceptance of queer culture on campus, and membership is open to any student who personally accepts homosexuality. The group sponsors a multitude of functions relevant to queer culture.

Online, GLBTQ Student Life also provides a wide variety of health, media, social, etc. resources that relate to the LGBT community.

8. University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla.

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UCF’s Social Justice and Advocacy (SJA) promotes “an equitable campus environment where all are assured that diversity, in its many forms, is valued.” The LGBTQ+ Services are a part of the SJA as an entry point for anyone looking for resources relating to sexual orientation or gender identity.

The LGBTQ+ Services Speakers Bureau conducts peer education by connecting interested groups to students who are willing to share their life experiences, challenges and concerns as an LGBT individual. These students teach through panels, speaking events, classes and other organizations.

At the Pride Commons, students can access resources, hang out with friends, study and join the LGBT and ally community. One example of a great resource from LGBTQ+ Services is “The Q Guide,” a comprehensive guide to everything one needs to know as an LGBT student and ally on campus.

7. Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.

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The very first student group on campus was the Gay Liberation Committee in 1972. Emory’s Office of LGBT Life has continued to improve to set the standard for schools throughout the nation. Emory also has a long history of LGBT activism, involvement and inclusion, according to Campus Pride.

From the three scholarships and leadership funding options, Emory provides a total of $6,000 to LGBT students. The school also has various LGBT-related student organizations, queer discussion groups, queer connection programs and events.

Through Queer Connections, the Office of Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Life hopes to provide connections necessary to help students become successful members of the community. These are include Out@Work, Out in Healthcare, Out in Law, Out in Business and Queer Eats and Queries, which brings together students and faculty from a wide variety of academic fields to share a meal and talk informally.

6. University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore.

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Oregon is one of those other very few schools who scored five out of five star ratings on all factors of LGBT life at the university on Campus Pride.

Through UOUT, students can find support, get involved, learn more and take action with the campus LGBT community. For support, the program’s website features resources for health, counseling, coming out, gender identity and more.

UO participates in LGBT-related study abroad programs as well, like the School for International Training (SIT) Program on “Sexuality, Gender and Identity,” held in Amsterdam during both fall and spring semesters.

5. Stanford University in Stanford, Calif.

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Stanford achieved the No.1 spot on The Princeton Review’s Top 20 list, and the school just missed the mark of perfection on Campus Pride. All they need is a simple and accessible process for students to change their name and gender identity on university records and documents.

Stanford’s LGBT Community Resources Center, located on the second floor of the Fire Truck House, is open to all students, and it offers computers, free printing, a library, magazines, academic journals, arts publications and a study, meeting and events space with a media center and dry-erase boards.

Several services exist on campus for LGBT students, faculty and staff. One, Flourish!, hosts programs that focus on health, wellness and resilience. They begin the year with a panel event for queer students and more at the New Student Orientation, and they continue to help new students develop strong support, social and academic networks on campus.

4. University of Maryland in College Park Md.

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The one off mark on UMD’s report card from Campus Pride is their lack of LGBT housing options. However, not only does UMD offer mixed-gender housing in some of their previous established residence halls, but the new Prince Frederick Hall, which opened this fall, was specifically constructed for gender-neutral housing.

The Rainbow Terrapin Network of the LGBT Equity Center covers campus-wide training of LGBT allyship, advocacy and inclusion fundamentals on campus. The Equity Center also features a separate Trans* Advocacy Training.

The LGBT Equity Library consists of over 3,000 volumes, books, videos and magazines, which are free for all students to borrow and use. And if the Equity Center doesn’t have what you’re looking for, the university has an LGBT Studies Research Guide and Tutorial for the rest of the libraries on campus.

3. Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.

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The Queer Resource Center has enough resources and programming to happily serve all seven of the Claremont Colleges, including Pomona. And their rainbow ski lodge (pictured above) is definitely one of the best-decorated LGBT hangouts among the schools on this list.

The QRC program coordinator and director also hold “Drop in Hours” a few times every week. During these hours, students can stop by for informal counseling regarding coming out, issues with sexual orientation or gender identity, guidance on LGBTQ-related research and navigating queer life on campus.

Pomona hosts a Queer Faculty Symposium Series every year to showcase the work of queer and ally faculty across the Claremont Colleges. They also highlight work that is “furthering the visibility of queer issues in the academy.

2. Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.

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Between the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, which is dedicated to supporting the academic, personal and social success of LGBT students, and the Center for Gender and Student Engagement (CGSE), LGBT and ally students at Dartmouth are pretty well off.

The CGSE offers several programs that facilitate students’ community involvement, gender identity exploration and meaningful relationship building with other students. One example of these programs is The Men’s Project, which brings together resources to help male-identified students examine and identify masculinity and the different identities within the male community.

1. University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pa.

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The UPenn LGBT Center considers itself a home away from home for sexual and gender minorities and their allies on campus. They offers mentorships, a space to relax, study and socialize and a calendar full of LGBT-supported events. According to their website, this center is one of the oldest and most active LGBT centers in the country, and they’ve been supporting UPenn students for over 30 years.

UPenn hosts over 25 LGBT groups for undergraduate and graduate students. Some examples of organizations include J-BageL for Jewish LGBT students, Lambda Alliance, Nurses PUSH and the Colors Project, a campus publication that gives queer people of color a voice; it is the first LGBT publication on Penn’s campus.

Gabrielle Kratsas

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pa., but I recently moved to Florida. I graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park (GO TERPS!) in 2014, where I acquired a BA in multimedia journalism and a minor in creative writing. I absolutely love writing all attention-grabbing genres of fiction and non-fiction. I used to box competitively, I enjoy sewing and I have two dogs, Bubba and Ellie Mae, who I consider my children.

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