From the landmark Supreme Court ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states to Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover, it’s been a big year for the LGBTQ+ community. If you’re searching for a school with an open-minded and accepting student body, look no further. Whether it’s an inclusive LGBTQ+ support system, an awesome Pride Week, gender-neutral bathrooms or an LGBT Studies minor, these colleges all have active LGBTQ+ communities.
10. WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY (Middletown, Connecticut)
Do you want to room with other individuals in the LGBTQ+ community? Wesleyan University’s “Open House” is a literal safe space for LGBTQ+ students. Any student is welcome to apply for this inclusive housing option that celebrates all aspects of queer life. Wesleyan also uses preferred pronouns, meaning professors and students don’t assume that others use gendered pronouns such as he or she. Instead, they ask individuals about how they prefer to be addressed—with a gender-neutral pronoun, for example. Additionally, 59 of Wesleyan's 67 academic and administrative buildings currently have single-use “all gender” restrooms. Yes Wesleyan, yaass!
9. SKIDMORE COLLEGE (Saratoga Springs, New York)
If you haven’t heard of Skidmore College, it needs to be on your radar. We think Skidmore should be known for its accepting student body and active LGBTQ+ community. Skidmore also has gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. “Skidmore is notorious for being an earthy-crunchy, liberal school and it's true!” says Sara Pion, a junior. “Everyone accepts their peers no matter how they choose to live their life. Our LGBTQ community is strong, active and widely supported.” Now that’s what we like to hear!
8. UNIVERSITY AT ALBANY – SUNY (Albany, New York)
It’s time we recognize Upstate New York for something other than snow. An LGBTQ Advisory Committee was established at University at Albany - SUNY in fall 2009. There is gender inclusive housing, and an LGBTQIA Alumni Constituency Group, which enables LGBTQ+ graduates to remain connected to the university and to each other through networking and events. The University has a Sexuality Week each year. The event includes exhibits, speaker presentations, film screenings and discussions, workshops and programs. In 2015, Laverne Cox was the keynote speaker.
“We have a growing Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies department which is open for…everybody to learn about the history of the LGBTQ+ community and their ongoing accomplishments,” says Tabia Robinson, a senior at University at Albany – SUNY. “I am very proud of my school when it comes to LGBTQ+ awareness.” Talk about school pride!
7. ECKERD COLLEGE (St. Petersburg, Florida)
Not only is Eckerd College located in warm and sunny Florida, but it also has a flourishing LGBTQ+ community. Eckerd has gender-neutral housing as of Fall 2014. Many LGBTQ+ events are held throughout the year, most notably an annual Pride Week that includes a Drag Show. “Students can compete in [the drag show], but we also brought in local professional drag queens,” says recent Eckerd graduate Danielle Buchanan.
“We have a strong LGBTQ+ community,” says Julia Tanquary, a junior at Eckerd. “Every spring, the EC Queer-Straight Alliance club hosts a Pride parade around campus and holds an ‘Allies Rock’ Concert to support allies.” Sounds fun (and beneficial) to us!
6. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES (Los Angeles, California)
If you’re looking for a school with plenty of LGBTQ+ resources, check out University of California, Los Angeles. UCLA’s LGBT Campus Resource Center promotes events such as a social for first years and transfers, and an annual LGBTQ Fall Resource Fair. The website has a campus “OUTLIST,” a tool for students that lists the names and titles of all LGBTQ+ affiliated individuals on campus, links to LGBTQ scholarship applications and UCLA's Rainbow Connection, a confidential service that allows students to chat with trained peer mentors. The Rae Lee LGBT Center Library is one of the largest libraries of its kind at a college. There are close to 4,000 books and periodicals for and about LGBTQ people.
“UCLA has a thriving LGBTQIA center, an LGBT sorority and a gay fraternity,” says UCLA senior Iris Goldsztajn. “There is a campus-wide ally week [each year] with tons of events. Academically, the LGBT studies and gender studies programs have brilliant professors and guest speakers (I’m a gender minor).” When can we enroll?
5. SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY (Syracuse, New York)
Another LGBTQ+ friendly school located in Upstate New York is Syracuse University. Syracuse has an LGBT Studies minor that is open to all students. SU also holds a First Year Forum Class dedicated to LGBTQ issues. There is even an LGBTQ Learning Community that hosts activities and events, such as whitewater rafting and a trip to Washington, D.C. to explore historic LGBTQ+ neighborhoods, plus a retreat for freshmen and sophomores.
4. HARVARD UNIVERSITY (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Move over Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard is about to be known for someone new. The university will have the first openly transgender swimmer in NCAA history when Harvard student Schuyler Bailar competes for the university's swim team this fall. The Harvard Office of BGLTQ Student Life has an “Out at Harvard” section that lists faculty and staff who identify as LGBTQ. Harvard has a queer Jewish organization, a group for LGBTQ business students and many more LGBTQ groups on campus.
3. OBERLIN COLLEGE (Oberlin, Ohio)
Why should you consider applying to school in Ohio? Because of Oberlin College. Oberlin’s Multicultural Resource Center offers tons of LGBTQ-related organizations, workshops and programs. These include a Transgender Advocacy Group, and a group called Queer Peers, which “aims to teach awareness and acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning issues in middle school and high school communities.” What an amazing resource for teens.
2. STANFORD UNIVERSITY (Stanford, California)
Speaking of progressive, let’s talk about Stanford University. Stanford recently hired an openly gay woman, as well as an LGBTQ activist, for their Dean for Religious Life. The university has also topped the Princeton Review's list of most LGBTQ-friendly schools in the U.S.
And students agree! “I can tell you that pretty much everyone on campus is very accepting and respectful of those who identify in the LGBTQ+ spectrum,” says LoMo Phillips, a junior at Stanford. “There is a lot of LGBTQ+ issue awareness brought up by a core group of activists, especially pertaining to the constant killings of trans womyn of color; however, I think Stanford students should be more participatory in not only acknowledging these issues, but also being a part of the fight against them.” While Stanford is undoubtedly a great place to be if you’re on the LGBTQ spectrum (or an ally!), we love that these students know there is always more work to be done.
1. EMERSON COLLEGE (Boston, Massachusetts)
Emerson College has been named the Princeton Review's #1 LGBTQ-friendly school, and for good reason. As a small college for communication and the arts, the Emerson community is very accepting. “When students apply to attend Emerson, there are multiple choices aside from the traditional male and female options on their applications, including genderqueer/androgynous, intersex, transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM (female-to-male) and MTF (male-to-female),” says Emerson junior Jacqueline Weiss.
“E.A.G.L.E. (Emerson’s Alliance for Gays, Lesbians and Everyone) is an organization that sponsors functions for the community on issues relevant to LGBTQ+ culture,” Jacqueline says. “Additionally, the environment at school from both your peers and faculty as a whole is very accepting of students of every sexual orientation.” As an example, in 2013, Emerson's Phi Alpha Tau fraternity raised awareness and money for a transgender brother's “Top Surgery” when he found out that his medical insurance wouldn't cover it. There’s no question why Emerson is our top LGBTQ+ friendly school.