The Ivy Coach Daily

June 10, 2024

Best Colleges for LGBTQ Life in the U.S.

Ivy Coach salutes America’s LGBTQ+ friendly colleges.

Previously Published on April 30, 2016:

The Campus Pride Index is an online database that evaluates the LGBTQ-friendliness of colleges and universities across the nation. It is widely considered to be an authority on surveying the gay and trans inclusiveness of colleges and universities. Institutions elect to participate in the Index by having an administrator fill out Campus Pride’s online questionnaire, which probes various aspects of educational inclusivity. Schools receive somewhere between one and five stars based on the results of this questionnaire. The top-scoring institutions are released in an annual round-up that is broken down by region. 

What are the Most LGBTQ-Friendly Schools According to Campus Pride?

Below is a list of the top-scoring institutions in Campus Pride’s 2023 BEST OF THE BEST LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges & Universities ranking. Note that Campus Pride does not rank schools against each other. According to their methodology, each school on the list below received the same top score for LGBTQ-friendliness. Schools from Texas and Florida were not included on this list because of recent measures banning LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices in classrooms within these states. 

Mid-Atlantic

Midwest

New England

South

West

A Breakdown of Campus Pride’s Top-Scoring Schools

Some schools on this list probably do not come as much of a surprise. The University of Pennsylvania, for example, has a reputation for strong LGBTQ student life and inclusivity. Tufts University has a similar reputation for having a queer-accepting student body. Some schools, however, are notably absent from this list. No members of the famously-inclusive University of California system made the cut, nor did any Ivy League schools outside of Penn. In fact, the majority of schools on this list are public research universities, and very few are highly selective.

What Campus Pride Gets Right About LGBTQ Life

Campus Pride describes the methodology of their index as follows:

“The index tool includes 50+ self-assessment questions, which correspond to eight different LGBTQ-friendly factors. Questions were weighted in order to emphasize and add value to specific LGBTQ components which were determined to contribute to a more inclusive, welcoming and respectful LGBTQ and ally campus. All eight LGBTQ-friendly factors receive the same weight in the overall score. Significant testing and analysis went into determining the weights. The eight LGBTQ-friendly factors are, as follows:

Ivy Coach praises the comprehensiveness of this methodology, which probes nearly every single aspect of LGBTQ life on a given campus, not just rhetorical commitments to queer students or the presence of gender-neutral restrooms. Campus Pride understands that LGBTQ exclusion often manifests in accessibility issues, academic blindspots, or administrative red tape, and gauges these more subtle factors with their questionnaire. They are also transparent about the limits of this methodology, and note that all prospective applicants should research the LGBTQ civil rights landscape of the state to which they want to apply. This is especially important for those trans applicants whose access to healthcare is increasingly predicated upon location.

How Campus Pride Can Do Better

Campus Pride states that their index “is NOT a replacement or substitute for campus climate research which examines more holistically campus attitudes/perceptions of LGBTQ and ally campus life.” But holistic campus attitudes are often one of the most integral components of LGBTQ quality of life at universities! Even if a small school in a rural area checks all of the boxes on their questionnaire, if LGBTQ students are mostly absent from campus, can’t access the same parties, and do not have the same pre-professional opportunities as their straight counterparts, the university’s on-paper commitment to LGBTQ life is relatively meaningless.

As such, we call upon Campus Pride to expand their methodology to include the testimony of current LGBTQ students, as well as an analysis of the post-graduate outcomes of LGBTQ alumni, to begin to account for these holistic criteria. Furthermore, because universities elect to participate in this index, places with both a poor track record or stellar track record can slip through the cracks. Dartmouth College, for example, famously has several options for LGBTQ affinity housing, one of the most active LGBTQ alumni networks in the nation, and a long history of inclusion, but is not listed on the index (presumably because they have not filled out the questionnaire). On a larger scale, imagine how many reputable schools, or schools that deserved to be called out, have not been included on this list! Campus Pride should develop an objective evaluation system that does not rely on participation.

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