So What Universities are Friendliest to Queer Kids?

By TJ Acena, PQ Monthly

When I was doing my college search, inclusiveness for LGBTQ people was not really something I had seriously considered. I was pretty sure that compared to small town Alaska, any college in Washington State along the I-5 corridor would be a dramatic improvement. I ended up at Western Washington University, and even though I wasn’t involved much with the LGBT student organization (I don’t remember the name of it, sadly), I was glad it was there. Now it seems that college-bound LGBTQ students can see how friendly a school is on LGBTQ issues before deciding to go. Earlier we mentioned that Portland State was recognized as one of the top 25 LGBT friendly colleges in America, according to the Campus Pride Campus Climate Index, which is pretty sweet, and also says some nice things about the Rose City since PSU is located right downtown. University of Oregon and Southern Oregon University also came in on the list (way to go Oregon).

Campus Pride is a national organization which works to make colleges and universities more inclusive and safer for LGBTQ students. The Campus Pride Index is self-reporting, any college or university can participate, so these are already institutions which seem invested in making their campuses LGBTQ inclusive. According to the Huffington Post each school completes a self-assessment in eight fields:

1. 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.

Campus Pride collects the data and releases a list of the top 25 schools in alphabetical order.

Recently the Princeton Review also released its list of the 20 most LGBT friendly (and unfriendly) colleges and universities. Strangely, PSU did not make the top 20. One of the differences is that the Princeton Review (which is not associated with Princeton, it’s just a business called the Princeton Review) sends out surveys to a selection of students at colleges and universities. According to the Princeton Review, the average number of students who fill out a survey for a college is about 343. The results are tallied and school administrators get a chance to have their say before the results are published.

The LGBT friendly (and unfriendly) score is only based on one question:

“Do students, faculty, and administrators at your college treat all persons equally regardless of their sexual orientations and gender identity/expression?”

Emerson College came in first on the Princeton list but did not show up on the Campus Pride list. Also, no colleges from Oregon show up on the Princeton list. I would guess that the Campus Pride list is a better judge of what college is best for LGBTQ students due to its depth and the Princeton Review list would give an OK assessment of which colleges are the worst since LGBTQ students would be most likely to report problems to that question if it were true. Regardless of how each list is produced, it is nice to know that LGBTQ students have options.