Adam Polaski

33 Schools Receive Top Rankings in 'LGBT-Friendliness'

Filed By Adam Polaski | August 26, 2011 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement
Tags: Campus Climate Index, Campus Pride, gay-friendly, Ithaca College, LGBT students, LGBT-friendly schools, Princeton Review LGBT, university

GraduationCaps.jpgThis month Campus Pride, one of the largest organizations advocating for LGBT inclusion and diversity on college campuses throughout the United States, released its annual Campus Climate Index. The index is an annual display of how American colleges and universities rank in terms of accommodating and speaking directly to the needs of LGBT students.

This year 33 schools received 5 stars, the highest ranking a school can receive from the index. That's almost double the number of schools that received the top ranking last year.

I was delighted to see my own college - Ithaca College in New York - once again receive a five-star rating. With its LGBT resource center, multitude of LGBT-specific organizations, and overwhelmingly accepting and inclusive LGBT student and faculty population, Ithaca - as well as the 32 other schools that received five stars, is setting an example for other schools.

Campus Pride's Campus Climate Index in a comprehensive survey of colleges and universities and aspects of them that can contribute to their being a positive place for growth for LGBT students and allies. The organization's website describes:

The LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index is a necessary first step to improve the quality of LGBT campus life. It is an effective, ongoing measurement to improve campus LGBT policies, programs and practices. The index tool includes 50+ self-assessment questions, which correspond to eight different LGBT-Friendly factors. Questions were weighted in order to emphasize and add value to specific LGBT components which were determined to contribute to a more inclusive, welcoming and respectful LGBT and Ally campus. All eight LGBT-Friendly factors receive the same weight in the overall score. Significant testing and analysis went into determining the weights. The eight LGBT-Friendly factors are, as follows:

CampusClimateIndex.jpg1. LGBT Policy Inclusion
2. LGBT Support & Institutional Commitment
3. LGBT Academic Life
4. LGBT Student Life
5. LGBT Housing
6. LGBT Campus Safety
7. LGBT Counseling & Health
8. LGBT Recruitment and Retention Efforts

In 2011, Top 20 and Bottom 20 colleges and universities for LGBT students. The Princeton Review's survey was significantly less comprehensive - it dealt with only one question: "Is there very little discrimination against homosexuals?"

Interestingly, 8 of The Princeton Review's Top 20 LGBT-friendly colleges did not receive a five-star ranking, including New York University (4 stars), Emerson College (4 stars), University of Wisconsin (4.5 stars), Macalester College (4.5 stars), Sarah Lawrence College (4 stars), Bryn Mawr College (4.5 stars), Grinnell College (3.5 stars), Hampshire College (4.5 stars). Some of these schools lost points for a lack of gender identity inclusion in their LGBT-related policies and procedures.

Eleven of The Princeton Review's Top 20 LGBT-friendly colleges were not rated by the Campus Climate Index, including: Wellesley College, Bennington College, New College of Florida, Prescott College, St. John's College, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Smith College, Swarthmore College, Boston University, Mount Holyoke College, and Bard College.

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It's interesting to compare this list with that of Autostraddles's recent: "The Lesbian Insider’s Guide to 40 LGBT-Friendly College Campuses."

A number of schools are listed which don't even accept trans women (who haven't legally changed their gender... which usually requires SRS), yet they go right on listing them (eg Smith, Bryn Mawr). Moreover, their list is overwhelmingly made up of schools with tuition of 35K+ per year. What I really like about this Campus Pride list is these are also mostly AFFORDABLE schools and not just some marketably progressive dumping ground for rich, white kiddies and they take into account important issues like housing and health care. Good choices Campus Pride!