The most LGBT friendly colleges in America

15 Aug

Finding the proper college that fits a persons needs encompasses more than just the academic programs, college is a social institution as well. As such, students want a place they feel comfortable so that they not only have people they identify with surrounding them, but also because it is conducive to a better learning experience. LGBT students are no different, but often find the task of finding a gay friendly college to be as difficult as actually finishing college. With that in mind, a brief overview of the most gay friendly colleges in the U.S. can be extremely helpful.

What makes a college gay friendly is based on a number of factors. In part it is based on having a fair sized LGBT population, active student groups focused on the LGBT, a low incidence of LGBT based hate crimes, a surrounding local area which is not going to present problems for the LGBT person when they venture from campus, and random surveys of present and recently graduated students which are positive. Meeting all of that criteria is no easy task which keeps the annual list of LGBT friendly colleges fairly small. The following colleges and universities are generally regarded as the most LGBT friendly over the past decade.

Traditionally the top five recurring colleges that make the list are as follows; Eugene Lang College (New York City), New York University, Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, NY), New College of Florida (Sarasota), and Brandeis University in Boston. While those are the top five, the rest of the list which earns a high “Gay Point Average” consists of American University, Duke, Stanford, Princeton, Tufts, Nearly the entire University of California system, University of Minnesota, University of Oregon, University of Pennsylvania, University of Puget Sound, and Oberlin College. Texas Christian University almost made the current list with their addition of LGBT optional housing for students whom felt more comfortable in that setting.

While these are the top Universities traditionally, there are many fine institutions which are very LGBT friendly but for one reason or another just fall short of making the list. While it is important for an LGBT student to consider a schools Gay Point Average, it ultimately should only be a part of the equation when choosing where to round out you studies. If none of the Universities seem to fit your needs or abilities as per academic qualifications, geography, or finances, there are some simple steps to get a general idea of how gay friendly a college is.

The first step is to do your homework! Go to the college’s website and review their non-discrimination policy. Does the school offer any queer studies? Check the English Department offerings for gay literature courses first, but also look for gay/lesbian history courses and offerings in gender studies. A presence of such courses tends to point towards a gay friendly mix of staff and students. Your next step should be to check for LGBT student organizations which end with a visit to the campus itself. If that is not possible, write or call one of the LGBT student organizations and ask for the real skinny on how LGBT students are regarded on campus.

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