Choosing a college is an overwhelming process in and of itself. But for LGBTQ-identified folks, the task is all the more intimidating. To succeed academically, it’s essential to succeed socially; it’s vital to think holistically about your well-being while in school. We at University Magazine have assuaged some of the difficulty in the search by researching the country’s fifty best colleges and universities for LGBTQ.
What does “best” mean exactly? Well, there are several vital things LGBTQ folks should consider. First, the university’s non-discrimination policy should include gender expression and sexual orientation.
This information is available on all school websites, and if they don’t explicitly promise to protect you, move on. Other things to look for range from comprehensive health care (trans students should have hormone therapy included) to campus safety hate prevention, a faculty board who is queer and trans-inclusive, a curriculum that is representative of LGBTQ voices and histories, and a vibrant Resource Center that facilitates a diversity of events, education, outreach, and programming.
The Best LGBTQ Friendly Colleges 2019
10. Johns Hopkins University
LGBTQ life at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is distinctly organized into a four-tier structure: community support, education, advocacy, and networking. Community support of the queer community entails a complete interpersonal support system in which students can connect with staff—counselling or otherwise—peers, even opting into the peer mentoring program.
Johns Hopkins emphasis on sex and gender education means several training programs are in place for staff and faculty. This includes understanding sex and gender identity, how to be an ally and understanding orientation. In addition, JHU’s advocacy work includes its active Diversity Leadership Council. And finally, LGBTQ networking at JHU brings together students on campus and other queer groups in the Baltimore and DC areas.
9. Ohio State University
The Ohio State University houses its own full Sexuality Studies Department, through which students can major or minor in the undergraduate interdisciplinary program. The classes will allow students to include the history of modern sexuality, adolescent parenthood, AIDS facts and issues, literature classes on James Baldwin or Audre Lorde, sex and gender in the ancient world, and much more. And for those who are not looking for an academic approach to their LGBTQ experience, Ohio State University offers many student cohort groups, leadership opportunities, education programs, and signature events through the Multicultural Center.
Like many more prominent, renowned universities on our list, Ohio State University has vocally committed to highlighting the intersectionality of identities. So queer students can anticipate a campus experience brimming with options and opportunities; there’s a racial equity queer group that connects racial justice issues with LGBTQ equality struggles.
8. Harvey Mudd College
Because Harvey Mudd College is part of The Claremont Colleges system, it shares its Queer Resource Center (QRC) with the seven other undergraduate and graduate schools but is primarily based on the Pomona College campus. The QRC prides itself (pun intended) on not just being a safe space for its queer communities but a fun and laidback space where students can hang out together. The QRC has over 1k queer-related books and movies that can be checked out for free, meeting rooms and lounge areas for group meet-ups, and staff who can point you to the outreach, education, health service, or advocacy resource you may need.
Harvey Mudd College consistently ranks as one of the best schools for LGBTQ folks. Although, of course, there are many reasons this is the case. It is still primarily because of the school’s explicit and extensive policy inclusions, its many housing options for queer students, its highly trained campus safety staff, and its strict procedures for reporting LGBTQ-related bias incidents and hate crimes.
7. Cornell University
Cornell’s LGBTQ Resource Center is over twenty years old. Its history of providing outreach, education, support, and advocacy for the LGBTQ community demonstrates the more prominent university’s efforts to create an inclusive, safe space for all its students. Most notable, Cornell’s healthcare and counselling services include a range of resources for queer and trans students. Cornell offers LGBTQ counselling and support groups, trans-inclusive trained counselling staff, accessible and anonymous HIV and STI testing, and trans-inclusive health policies that cover ongoing counselling and hormone replacement therapy.
LGBTQ students can also expect several other guarantees from Cornell: queer-specific scholarships, mentoring programs with other LGBTQ students, rainbow graduations, a bunch of gender-neutral bathrooms, and LGBTQ career services, as well as an LGBTQ alumni group.
6. University of Michigan
The Spectrum Center at the University of Michigan houses over twenty independent, student-led organizations for LGBTQ students. There’s an asexual visibility group, a coalition for queer and trans people of colour, a group for LGBTQ students in a STEM field, a queer business student meet up, and more.
In addition to this vibrant social atmosphere, the University of Michigan supports its LGBTQ students through scholarships, holistic healthcare, ally development training, and academic inclusion efforts. Regarding the latter, the University of Michigan leads the country in its Women and Gender Studies program, which offers an LGBTQ Studies minor and undergraduate and graduate degrees in Women’s Studies.
The University of Michigan excels in its support of the LGBTQ community: its institutional support, student life experience, housing and residential life, campus safety priorities, counselling and health services, and retention efforts prove the university’s commitment to safety and inclusion.
5. University of California, Los Angeles
The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) puts you in direct proximity to one of the most queer-friendly cities in the world. Los Angeles has a vast LGBTQ center, hosts one of the country’s biggest Pride festivals, and is home to dozens of gay bars, restaurants, and cafes. UCLA is thus a microcosm of the more extraordinary LA cultural landscape. In addition, dozens of queer organizations, events, outreach opportunities, and programming exist on campus for LGBTQ students and allies alike.
The Williams Institute (on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy) is an integrated research center on the UCLA campus. Current research initiatives include an investigation into LGBTQ discrimination post-marriage equality. Concurrently, UCLA’s more fantastic Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies Program is creating the first Ph.D. Program in LGBTQ Studies.
4. University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania receives near-perfect marks from Campus Pride, especially for its health, counseling, housing, student life, and campus safety sectors. The heart of LGBTQ life at Penn is found in the resource center, where students can take part in workshops and outreach programs, connect with a queer mentor, apply for travel fund assistance, make a name change, and get involved in one of the many organizations and student clubs. Queer students who are also international students, Jewish, athletes, or studying law, medicine, education, or business will all find an organization that explicitly serves their unique needs.
Penn is a notably trans-inclusive university. From the initial program and housing applications, where trans students can choose “gender-neutral” to opt of the binary, to a non-discrimination policy that explicitly protects trans students, Penn seeks to ensure all of its students are safe and served well.
3. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
With an emphatic commitment to equity, diversity, and exclusivity, the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire is home to diverse cultural programming, support services, and an LGBTQ Resource Center that works hard to keep the campus accountable to its stated commitment equality. This same center also provides expert training (called Safe Space Training) to peers, students, staff, and faculty on various gender and sexuality issues, including gender identity, erasure, heteronormativity, and the queer legal landscape.
And of course, UW Eau Claire hosts the annual Eau Queer Film Festival, an event that has taken place each year since 2010. Promoting equality, inspiring activism, and educating the community, this queer film festival not only showcases LGBTQ documentaries, features, comedies, and shorts, they host discussions, sometimes with the filmmakers themselves.
Not only do UW Eau Claire’s LGBTQ students have access to this great cultural event each year, but regular campus life is comprised of a queer resource center.
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is most known for its research contributions to and training in the physical sciences and engineering and for being the alma mater of hundreds of Nobel laureates, Rhodes Scholars, MacArthur Fellows astronauts, and Fields Medalists. But not only does MIT maintain a reputation for its academics, but it is also more and more often recognized for the number of services it provides its LGBTQ students.
The LGBTQ student life at MIT is among the best in the country. Not only are there several queer organizations and students clubs for undergraduates, but graduate students can get involved in LGBTQ extracurriculars too. MIT has a queer social fraternity and sorority, a social calendar pocked with regular queer events, a consistent educational platform on trans issues, and LGBTQ inclusive career services.
1. Princeton University
Boasting one of the most vibrant, active, and extensive LGBTQ student centers in the nation, Princeton University tops our list for best campuses for LGBTQ students. At Princeton, queer students will find education, social, and supportive programming designed by the LGBTQ community; a busy calendar full of queer lectures, discussions, film, and art; a vast LGBTQ library; and much more.
Princeton’s support of the LGBTQ community is visible in several areas, from housing and residence to its campus safety crew, counseling, health services, and scholarship fund allocations. This means your opportunities at Princeton are multitude.
You can choose to be matched with an LGBTQ student (or an LGBTQ-friendly student) as a roommate. You have access to free, anonymous HIV and STI testing. There are many clubs, organizations, and mentoring opportunities specific to the LGBTQ community. And trans students will have full access to insurance that covers counselling and hormone replacement therapy delivered by trans-inclusive trained staff.