On this day in which our nation, and the world, mourns the senseless murder of so many LGBT Americans and allies, we figured since we write exclusively about colleges and college admissions that we would focus on colleges that serve as shining ‘cities on a hill’ supporting its LGBT students. Smith College, Wellesley College, Bryn Mawr College, and Barnard College in recent months have reversed course on policies that restricted admission to these schools to students born female. Applicants to these women’s colleges who now identify as female, regardless of the gender they were born, are now eligible for admission. At a time when lawmakers in North Carolina promote hate, fear, and discrimination and attempt to codify it all into law, these colleges stand proud in defiance. As marchers at LA’s Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood chanted this weekend, “When our community comes under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.” Smith, Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, and Barnard are indeed fighting back.
“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” – Harvey Milk
And they’re not alone. Dartmouth College now has a Triangle House, a sanctuary for LGBT students and allies. For years, Michael Bronski, a notable LGBT scholar, has also for years served as a visiting lecturer at the school (as well as at Harvard College) and a mentor to LGBT students and allies. New York University’s First Year Queer and Allies Program helps new LGBT students feel comfortable in their new surroundings. Harvard has an office of BLGTQ Student Life. USC has a Rainbow Room. Princeton offers a “Queer Theory and Politics” course. The list goes on and on. More and more of our nation’s finest institutions are making it their missions to emphatically support their LGBT students and allies not just through words but through actions.
But there is surely more work to be done. An article in “The Advocate” recently pointed out how historically black colleges don’t do enough, not nearly enough, for their LGBT students and allies. And these schools are not alone. There are other schools that too must step up their games, that must do better jobs of fostering diversity and acceptance of LGBT applicants and students.
It is our goal to focus many times in the coming months on our college admissions blog on issues facing LGBT applicants and students, on colleges that are setting the bar for LGBT equality, on colleges that are well behind that bar and must do more. But, for now, as we think of Orlando today and in the days ahead, we are reminded of the words of the mother of a former Dartmouth student, Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” Yes you will.