All colleges and universities claim to have campus pride. But when it comes to LGBTQ-pride, some schools are clearly more “loud and proud” than others. Find an actively supportive college home with one of the 50 best LGBTQ schools in the nation. For LGBTQ-identifying students, the task of finding a college or university can be daunting. The typical college-aged questions of “Who will I hang out with?” and “Will I fit in?” are magnified 100x for queer and transgender students.
Even more, LGBTQ students are faced with additional worries. “What kind of healthcare access will be available to me?” “Will I be safe living in the dorms?” “Will my gender expression be protected by the administration?”
Believe it or not, most colleges and universities across the country are just now catching up to the academic, social, and mental health needs of the LGBTQ community. Thankfully, an increasing number of schools are ahead of the curve in creating a campus culture that not only protects its LGBTQ students, but allows them to thrive.
We’ve narrowed in on the top 50 best LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities below, but first, the top 10.
What do you mean by LGBTQ?
A quick word about our language in this ranking. We use the acronym LGBTQ most frequently throughout this list. This stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.
However, we recognize that the gender spectrum encompasses way more identities than this simple 5-term acronym. We are in no way intending to leave out the individuals who identify as asexual, intersex, questioning, or anything else. Rather, we use LGBTQ (and at times LGBTQ+) simply as a way to stay consistent. Everyone is welcome here.
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What should you look for in an LGBTQ-friendly school?
These days, lots of colleges and universities brand themselves as LGBTQ-friendly - though some more accurately than others. It’s important to look beyond the brochure and actually dig into the specific efforts schools are making to welcome in LGBTQ students.
You’re in good hands if you stick to our list of the top 50 LGBTQ-friendly schools. But if you’re broadening your search, here are six tangible indicators that a school is indeed an LGBTQ-friendly institution:
- Clear non-discrimination policies in place
- A vibrant LGBTQ student life
- Academic options for LGBTQ classes and majors
- Gender-inclusive housing and restrooms
- LGBTQ-specific health care options
- Active campus safety trainings and procedures
If you end up going on campus visits, take the time to find the LGBTQ Resource Center (or its equivalent). Talk to queer and transgender students. Ask them about their experience on campus. Make a list of your specific academic and social needs. If one particular school doesn’t check off all the boxes, move on! There will be one that does. Don’t settle for anything less than you deserve!
What are the best LGBTQ schools?
Here at College Choice, we are so excited to help you out on this huge step toward higher education. Below, you’ll find the top 50 best LGBTQ schools in the nation.
If you haven’t already discovered this resource, Campus Pride is an amazing guide to all things college and queer. Campus Pride doesn’t rank LGBTQ-friendly schools in order of best to worst, but it does provide a hugely helpful framework for LGBTQ students and parents to consider in their search.
This ranking is unique in its consideration of both LGBTQ inclusiveness and quality academic factors. In our research of the Best 50 LGBTQ Schools, we relied on data from Campus Pride as well as key educational statistics from outside sources such as retention rates, early graduate salaries, and tuition costs. After all, you’re looking for the whole package.
For each school, you’ll find the average net price you’ll pay to get a degree, a link to the school’s LGBTQ resource page, and a quick “Yes/No” reference to three important questions for queer and transgender students:
- Does the school have LGBTQ-specific counseling services?
- Does the school have gender-neutral restrooms and showers?
- Does the school have LGBTQ-specific scholarships?
Are you ready to find a college that will unequivocally celebrate who you are? Get ready for the best four years of your life.
University of Pennsylvania
Home to one of the oldest LGBT centers in the nation, the University of Pennsylvania has been a leader in LGBT advocacy for the last 35 years. It has rightfully earned a #1 spot on our list of the top 50 best colleges for LGBTQ students.
The University of Pennsylvania checks off all the boxes for LGBTQ support. The LGBT Center is not only a safe space for students to cook, study, and hang out, it also is the force behind campus advocacy, institutional change, and networking. Trans students will find an especially welcoming home at Penn. They’ll have access to some of the following resources:
- Gender-neutral bathrooms/showers across campus
- Options for gender-neutral housing
- Official options for using a preferred name
Additionally, the school’s medical system, Penn Medicine, is a hub for LGBTQ medical care. It was recently named a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign. Penn Medicine offers LGBTQ treatment teams, a Transgender Patient Advocate program, and more.
The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University achieves an almost perfect scorecard from Campus Pride, especially when it comes to institutional support, housing, health, and campus safety. OSU is committed to ensuring that all students thrive academically, mentally, and socially.
The OSU campus environment is such that you’ll find LGBTQ-related groups in virtually all academic and administrative sectors. There’s even an LGBT fraternity – Pi Alpha Kappa – that is co-ed and all inclusive. Here’s a look at some more LGBTQ student groups:
- LGBT & Allies in Medicine
- Out in Business
- Pride OSU
- LGBT First Year Q*mmunity
When it comes to mental health, OSU students can either seek out individual LGBT-specific counseling options, or join a counseling group. Some of these include Lambda Men’s Group, Queer Grad Group, True Selves: A Gender Spectrum Group, and more.
University of California - Los Angeles
LGBTQ students the University of California – Los Angeles will not only be in the epicenter of one of the most queer-friendly cities in the nation, but they’ll also be part of an institution that is fully devoted to LGBTQ support.
Students can consider any of the sevem LGBT-specific scholarships that are offered at UCLA. Once you’re on campus, the LGBTQ Campus Resource Center has a complete suite of resources for students. Here’s a quick look:
- Weekly events (e.g., Queer Fandom Fanatics)
- Counseling services and LGBTQ therapy groups
- Free sexual health supplies and information
- Transgender legal and health resources
UCLA is unique in hosting the Williams Institute, a think tank that is solely devoted to research on sexual orientation and gender identity policy. Research out of this effort has aided in legal progress regarding LGBT parenting and adoption, public health, transgender rights, and more.
Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis does a masterful job of providing numerous leadership and advocacy opportunities for its LGBTQ students. For example, each year, students look forward to Destination Q, which is a free, two-day retreat for LGBTQ undergraduates to work on leadership skills and identity expression.
But the opportunities go far beyond this. For instance, the Holobaugh Honors program is a series of awards that acknowledge students who display leadership in LGBTQ advocacy. Among the seven award areas, students may receive the following:
- Gloria Anzaldua Advocacy at Intersections Award
- Audre Lorde Academic Exploration Award
- Sylvia Rivera & Marsha P. Johnson Activism Award
- Bayard Rustin Bridge Builder Award
LGBTQ students have ample opportunity to connect beyond the classroom and in the broader St. Louis community. For example, BranchOut connects students through the business school; OUTLAW does the same for law students.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is perhaps most known for its strong representation in STEM research and technology. However, MIT is also a leader in its support and advocacy for its LGBTQ students and faculty.
In every aspect of student life – from housing to institutional policy – MIT steps up to the plate. Incoming first-year undergraduates are greeted with a vibrant and inclusive orientation week at MIT’s Rainbow Lounge. Students enjoy a diversity orientation, a soirée with queer faculty and staff, a queer women’s dessert night, and more. Other recurring events and leadership groups include:
- LGBTQ+ Leadership Retreat to Provincetown, MA
- Lavender Graduation
- Lazos: A Place at the Table for TQPOC & Allies of Color
- QLAB: Queer & LGBT Advisory Board
MIT is also an extremely trans-inclusive community. Students have access to gender-inclusive housing, mental health services, name change services, and more. The Department of Athletics at MIT hosts the Z Center fitness center, which includes single-occupancy locker rooms.
San Diego State University
San Diego State University features a Pride Center that bolsters the academic and social lives of its LGBTQ students. While the Pride Center is a fairly new development (it opened in 2014), the school has made leaps and bounds to make up for lost time. This earned SDSU a 5-star rating from Campus Pride.
One of the Pride Center’s primary roles is coordinating on-campus LGBTQ events. This includes annual drag shows, LGBTQ movie nights, SafeZones Ally Training, and a Trans Book Club. It also serves as a hub for LGBTQ student groups such as:
- Queer Student Union
- Womyn’s Outreach Association
Beyond the Pride Center, San Diego State University also houses Greek life specific to LGBTQ students. Gamma Rho Lambda and Delta Lambda Phi offer safe and inclusive housing to queer students and allies alike.
Queer and trans students will find a thriving and engaged LGBTQ community at Princeton University. This Ivy League university has taken active steps at an institutional level to ensure that LGBTQ students have the academic, mental, and social support they need.
True to the school’s overall student culture, Princeton University’s LGBTQ culture is rooted in education and networking. The campus LGBT Center is the force behind some amazing student-led projects. Here’s a look at a few of them:
- Q’nnections (LGBT mentorship program)
- #Woke101 (6-session diversity workshop)
- Ally Project
- LGBTQ Lunch & Lectures
Whether you’re a queer or trans athlete, a Jewish student, asexual, interested in kink, Latinx, a queer student of color, a religious student, or anything in between, Princeton University has a student group that will fold you in. The campus pride is strong here; and the LGBTQ network is stronger.
New Brunswick, NJ
A large public institution in New Jersey, Rutgers University is a giant of academic research in New Jersey. It also has a nearly perfect score on Campus Pride. For a school that exceeds 68,000 students in attendance, Rutgers is doing so many things right for its LGBTQ community.
Queer and trans students at Rutgers will find all they need to know in terms of LGBTQ events, education, housing, and academics through the Center for Social Justice Education & LGBT Communities. Take a look at a few options you’ll find through the Center:
- QSA: Queer Student Alliance
- XR: Queer Christians and Allies
- Gender-neutral housing resources
- SafeR Space Training
Rutgers makes the transition into college much smoother for LGBTQ students through Q-mmunity. This is a two-day retreat that introduces first-year students to leadership opportunities, academic programs, and social events. It also pairs students with a mentor for the academic year.
For over 16 years, Tufts University has been home to the LGBT Center, a place where queer and trans students can find educational materials, access safe sexual and reproductive health options, engage in a confidential conversation with staff, and much more.
There is no shortage of options for LGBTQ students to connect and organize over identity, activism, or simply just hang out. The LGBT Center organizes some of the following groups for students:
- Ace Space (asexual spectrum)
- LOQSOCA (Loving Ourselves as Queer Students of Color in Action)
- Queer Women’s Group
- T-Time (for trans, non-binary, or gender non-conforming students)
LGBTQ students at Tufts have the option of living with other queer and trans friends in Rainbow House. This co-living space can house up to 13 students, and is a designated safe, inclusive housing option.
University of Maryland - College Park
College Park, MD
From LGBTQ-inclusive greek life to training seminars with the Rainbow Terrapin Network, the University of Maryland – College Park is well-equipped to welcome in LGBTQ students to campus. Among other things, this school excels at making its inclusive policies and institutional commitment to LGBTQ students clear from the start.
Staff at the LGBT Equity Center at the University of Maryland – College Park know that conversation and community is paramount to a quality college experience. As such LGBTQ students can jump into any number of weekly discussion groups and organizations:
- Male-Identified Queers
- Queer Quests (D&D group)
- Smith Pride Alliance (MBA students)
Made specifically for first-year LGBTQ students at The University of Maryland – College Park, the One Project is a three-tiered program that makes the transition to college a whole lot easier. Students can participate in a pre-semester meetup, a Quelcome kick-off event, and a weekend-long Q Camp.
The University of Oregon has been a Pacific Northwest advocate for its LGBTQ students for decades. In fact, Campus Pride recently named it the most LGBTQ-friendly college in Oregon – a well-deserved honor.
Each month, the UO LGBT Education and Support Services department puts on one or more events for students. Past events have included drag shows, LGBTQIA History Month, LGBTea Time, and more. Students can also get involved through organizations like:
- Sappho: Queer Women’s Discussion Group
- Queer, Trans, and Intersex Students of Color
- Queering Kink
UO brings together academics and housing through the LGBTQIA+ Scholars program. This is a residential community that lives, eats, studies, and grows together. Everyone in the community takes one course per term together. Additionally, you’ll be paired with a faculty advisor to guide your academic progress.
A small engineering college based out of Claremont, California, Harvey Mudd College serves under 1,000 students each year. It is one of the seven Claremont Colleges that share a common campus; they also share a Queer Resource Center.
The Queer Resource Center is a home-away-from-home for many LGBTQ students at Harvey Mudd. Students can study in the lounge (affectionately dubbed the “Rainbow Ski Lodge”), check books out of the queer library, find clothing in the swap closet, or utilize the computer lab.
Beyond the actual space that the QRC provides, LGBTQ students at Harvey Mudd College are encouraged to branch out and get involved in other tangible ways. Here are some quick examples:
- QQAMP (queer peer mentorship program)
- Gaymer nights
- Queer fashion shows and drag shows
- Ponoma LGBTQ+ Affinity Group
University of Massachusetts Amherst
The University of Massachusetts Amherst provides a strong foundation for its LGBTQ students to thrive both on campus and beyond. The school boasts a 5-star rating from Campus Pride, largely due to its vibrant student life events and institutional inclusion policies.
The Stonewall Center at UMass Amherst was established in 1985, making it one of the earliest of its kind on a college campus. LGBTQ students have access to a huge range of resources and social networking opportunities. Here’s a quick look:
- Rapid HIV and STI testing
- LGBTQIA+ workshops and lectures
- Bulletin Board Kits for resident halls
- Queer-e weekly newsletter
Up until recently, the biggest drawback to UMass Amherst was its lack of gender-inclusive restrooms. However, in accordance with the larger state laws, UMass Amherst addressed the issue by installing 172 gender-inclusive restrooms across campus and 21 gender-inclusive showers on residence halls.
Based in beautiful Seattle, the University of Washington is a proud supporter of its LGBTQ students and staff. The Q Center is equipped with a talented staff of undergraduates and graduate students who are committed to the well-being of UW’s queer and trans population.
One thing that makes the University of Washington stand out is its strong LGBTQ academic presence. Students (both as undergraduates and at the graduate level) can earn a Gender and Sexuality Studies degree. The Q Center also provides a two-credit course called Queer 101 that explores the intersectionality nature of LGBTQ issues.
Students who aren’t interested in majoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies still have ample opportunity to join in the fun. The Q Center offers some of the following programming to LGBTQ students:
- Queer Mentoring Program
- Marsha P. Johnson Memorial Library (over 1500 books)
- Gender Discussion Group
- Trans Day of Remembrance
Hailed as the best liberal arts school in America, Williams College is also a leader in LGBTQ-inclusive practices. The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at Williams College is born out of the work of the Davis Center, which is a campus-wide project to promote issues of diversity and equity of all kinds.
LGBTQ students can find a way to connect in virtually any aspect of life at Williams College, from athletics to academics to activism. While there are no LGBTQ-specific housing options, students can plug into social options such as:
- Dively Committee (queer event planning)
- Queer Student Union
- Anything but Straight in Athletics club
- Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center serves as a safe place to get free sexual health information, as well as condoms, lube, and gloves. The Center also has an impressive selection of books on sexuality and gender in its library.
Washington State University
Another out and proud university from the Pacific Northwest, Washington State University is based in Pullman, Washington. It scores quite well with Campus Pride (five stars), especially in areas like LGBTQ student life, institutional commitment, and campus safety.
Part of what makes Washington State University great for queer and trans students is the Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center. The center’s tagline is “Education, Empowerment, and Engagement,” which it lives up to in tangible ways such as:
- InQueery Symposium
- UndocuQueer Conference
- Ally Training
- Gender and Sexuality Alliance
Washington State University especially excels in thoughtfully engaging with critical issues in the LGBTQ community. Through events like this year’s UndocuQueer Conference, WSU students are given a platform to interact with intersectional issues and celebrate their multiple identities.
Columbia University - New York
Based in a queer mecca, New York City, Columbia University delivers a diverse array of services and resources to its LGBTQ students. This includes group advising, education opportunities, advocacy, health services, and more.
Columbia University devotes an entire week to celebrating its transgender community. During Transgender Awareness Week, the Queer and Trans Resource Team hosts events and programming such as:
- Q&A: Beyond the Binary Discussion
- GendeRev: Clothing Swap
- GendeRev: Trans Makeup as Resistance
- Connecting at the Intersections of Queer/Trans and International Identities
While there are still areas left for improvement at Columbia (most notably in policy inclusion elements), the school has solid structures in place for campus safety and advocacy. For example, CU Safe Zone is a 3-hour training open to allies and LGBTQ+ students alike to promote solidarity and safety on campus.
Often ranked among the top liberal arts schools in the country, Macalester College makes a marked effort to support its LGBTQ+ students and faculty. It deservedly maintains a 5-star scorecard with Campus Pride for its work to cultivate a healthy LGBTQ campus life.
Most notably, Macalester students will engage with the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center, which works in tandem with the Department of Multicultural Life. This intersectional approach to advocacy ultimately unites the entire campus. Here’s a look at some specific projects:
- Allies Project Workshops
- Out and Proud list (faculty and staff)
- GSRC Mentor Program
Transgender students will find a loving and supportive home at Macalester College. The school has deliberate non-discrimination policies that extend from academics to hiring to athletics. There are all-gender locker rooms and bathrooms, as well as intentional housing options for transgender and non-binary students.
University of California - Davis
The University of California – Davis excels in numerous ways. It is considered a Public Ivy university and has an active commitment to research. When it comes to Campus Pride’s ratings, it gets a perfect grade for institutional commitment, academic life, student life, campus safety, and counseling/health.
Prominently located in the Student Community Center, the LGBTQIA Resource Center is a oft-visited space for many students at UC Davis. It is a one-stop-shop for all things queer, trans, and ally related. Some ongoing features include:
- Comprehensive access to LGBTQ+ health services
- Gender Affirmation Closet (clothes swap)
- LGBTQ+ specific counselor on staff
The vibe at UC Davis is very much one of inclusivity and positivity. LGBTQ students can live together at Rainbow House, the queer-specific living-learning community. Or they can tap into social events like Craftenoons and Cuppa Tea to mingle with other LGBTQ students.
Emory University is located in Atlanta, Georgia, a city that has served as a symbolic capital of the “Gay South.” The school follows suit with a campus climate of acceptance and advocacy. This is largely due to the efforts of the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Life.
The Office of LGBT Life at Emory is the center of queer and trans life on campus. In addition to annual programming and events, there are 11 unique discussion groups that meet weekly for one hour for casual conversation and community. Here are a few options:
- Queer and Trans Latinx
- Trans-Forming Gender
- Aces and Aros
Just last year, the Office of LGBT Life joined up with Emory Law to offer Emory LGBTQ Legal Services. This means students can receive pro bono legal help with official name changes, transition-related health care, and more. This is a huge incentive for LGBTQ students looking at colleges.
Southern Oregon University
In a state that is ahead of the game when it comes to LGBTQ legislation – the governor is openly bisexual, after all – Southern Oregon University is understandably a welcoming home for LGBTQ+ students. It boasts a 5-star review from Campus Pride and an A+ score in nearly all categories.
Southern Oregon University has carved out a space for both LGBTQ students and allies to transfer their lived experience into academics through the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies department. Students can dive into upper-level classes such as:
- Gender Issues in Economics
- Feminist and Queer Theory in Action
- Gender and the Body
- Philosophy and Sexuality
The Queer Resource Center is an accessible and safe space to hang out and find relevant resources. The Center is conveniently located in the Student Union. In addition to coordinating social events, the QRC also is helpful in guiding trans and non-binary students through the Preferred Name process.
Culturally known as a social justice-oriented liberal arts college, Oberlin College has long held up a legacy of standing up for what’s right. In fact, it was one of the first colleges in the nation to admit women and African Americans. Oberlin College is also a leader in its affirmation of LGBTQ+ students and faculty.
Oberlin’s strongest LGBTQ representation is seen academically through its well-supported Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. But the school also shows support through institutional acceptance of queer and trans student life. Here’s a look at a few of the unique student groups that have formed out of the LGBTQ community at Oberlin:
- Lilac: Activist group around transgender issues
- The Rhinos: Trans-inclusive Women’s Rugby Team
- ZAMI: LGBTQ students of color
- Lamda Union: Campus LGBT event planning
Each year, the school hosts Queerfest, a month-long celebration of LGBTQ identities oncampus. The month is full of engaging panel discussions, drag shows, concerts, movie screenings, and queer parties.
Indiana University - Bloomington
A Public Ivy university based in the “Hoosier State,” Indiana University – Bloomington is a haven for LGBTQ students in a state that tends to lean more socially conservative. Queer and transgender students can easily find places to plug in academically and socially at IU Bloomington.
IU Bloomington has an overwhelmingly successful LGBTQ scorecard with Campus Pride. Students will find diverse course offerings on gender and sexuality issues, supportive policies at the institutional level, LGBTQ-specific wellness services, and more. Here are more specific ways IU Bloomington steps up to the plate:
- LGBTQ+ Mentoring Program
- Free HIV/STI testing
- LGBTQ+ Library
- Student-run drag performances
The administration at IU Bloomington understands that financial barriers are often prevalent in the queer community. As a result, the LGBTQ+ Culture Center has set up numerous academic scholarships and awards for full-time and part-time students.
Portland State University
Located in the heart of “Rose City,” Portland State University easily pulls in a 5-star rating from Campus Pride for its LGBTQ-friendly campus. According to the director of PSU’s Queer Resource Center, around 8,000 students visit the Center each year. That kind of traffic is testament to school’s commitment to its LGBTQ+ students.
From trans resources to academic support to campus advocacy, PSU has a multi-front approach to protecting its LGBTQ+ students. Some of the most valuable resources available through the QRC include:
- Confidential Interpersonal Violence Support Program
- Queeries Speakers’ Bureau (student-led panels)
- QuEst Seminars (LGBTQ education programming)
- Trans Health Advocate
The Sexuality, Gender, and Queer Studies program at PSU is the perfect way to start exploring personal identity issues in an academic context. In addition to engaging coursework, faculty mentorship, and experiential learning, students can apply for scholarships specific to their work.
A small liberal arts school in central New York, Ithaca College keeps a climate of inclusivity at the core of its overall mission. The Center for LGBT Education, Outreach, and Services was founded in 2001 with the goal of enacting that mission in a tangible way.
Ithaca College has succeeded in its mission. LGBTQ students can get involved in regular social events like LGBT Awareness Month, Pride Prom, and LGBT film series. The queer and transgender student-led organizations at Ithaca are active with groups like:
- Created Equal (activist organization)
- PRISM (social and educational organization)
- Spectrum (bisexual, pansexual organization)
- Athlete Ally (LGBTQ representation in sports)
If students want to take their involvement a step further, they can join House of Roy, the LGBTQ+ residential living and learning community. The students in House of Roy are highly active in coordinating oncampus LGBTQ events and engaging the community around them.
The academic model at Amherst College is one of “open curriculum,” which means students can design their own educational path. The institution puts its trust into students to follow their passions at their own discretion. Amherst takes a similar approach to LGBTQ issues on campus – taking its cues directly from students.
The core of LGBTQ+ community at Amherst is centered around the Queer Resource Center. The QRC maintains an impressive library of over 500 books and films, free safe sex resources, a lounge to hang out, and more. Students are free to take part in any number of groups:
- Pride Alliance
- Amherst Athletes & Allies
- Ace/Aro Support Group
- Queer & Trans People of Color Group
Amherst College is a proud member of TransActive, a support group that collaborates with the Five Colleges consortium. Trans students from Amherst meet up with students from four other area liberal arts schools to support each other, swap stories, and organize events.
University of Texas at Dallas
While Texas as a state does not have a spotless record for LGBTQ+ support and advocacy, the University of Texas at Dallas boasts a 5-star rating from Campus Pride. For many queer and transgender students, UT Dallas is a safe haven of identity acceptance, safety, and networking.
Whether LGBTQ students are seeking out mental health services, help with the gender confirmation process, or just looking for a way to connect with other queer students, UT Dallas has lots of options for you. Here are a few:
- Gender and Sexuality Consultation Team
- LGBT+ Mix & Mingle Game Night
- Safe Zone Ally Training
The Galerstein Gender Center at UT Dallas has been a force behind LGBTQ educational programming and leadership development since 1996. In addition to organizing campus events, GGC also offers scholarships specific to LGBTQ+ students and minorities.
University of Illinois at Chicago
Located in bustling Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago offers competent, institutional-wide programming and protection for its LGBTQ students. This is a two-in-one package for most students – a supportive college experience in a big-city queer landscape.
The Gender and Sexuality Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago gives LGBTQ+ students the freedom to express themselves in numerous ways – art exhibitions, monthly programming, student groups, and more. Take a closer look at a few options:
- Queer and Trans People of Color Dinner
- Dessert Discussion Series
- Title IX Workshops
- LGBTQ+ Meet & Greets
The Queer Compass program is a highlight for incoming LGBTQ+ students. Queer Compass helps students navigate the first year of college. Queer and trans students will have monthly events, workshops, and leadership opportunities to help shape their early experience at UIC.
A private institution with a reputation for its strides in academic research, Lehigh University is a proud supporter of its LGBTQ+ population. Campus Pride awarded Lehigh a 5-star rating, particularly for its student life involvement, integration of LGBTQ academic pursuits, and its institutional commitment to supporting its queer and trans students.
The Pride Center for Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity is where most of the action takes place. The space itself is decked out in rainbow decorations and gives students a safe oasis on campus. The Pride Center is also in charge of programming and organizations such as:
- LUAlly Training
- LGBTQ Mentorship Cohort
- Greek Allies
- SPEAK (Students Promoting Equality, Awareness, & Knowledge)
Lehigh University makes its policies abundantly clear regarding gender identity and gender expression non-discrimination. It strives to protect all students under the law. However, the school is still working on updating its policies regarding name and gender changes.
Elon University is a private liberal arts school in central North Carolina. Although North Carolina has been notoriously enmeshed in discriminatory practices against the LGBTQ community, students at Elon University are guaranteed a safe and protected environment. It scores a full 5-star rating from Campus Pride.
In addition to over 80 offered courses related to gender and sexuality, students can explore identity and community through the Gender & LGBTQIA Center. The GLC sets a three-part mission for its work — that students feel “Validated, Valued, and Victorious.” Some of the work the GLC is doing to achieve that goal includes:
- EFFECT (Elon Feminists)
- SPARKS (Peer Health Educators)
- LGBTQIA Employee Resource Group
The transgender community at Elon University will find a welcoming home here. The school offers a seamless process to change name and gender identifiers on student records. Additionally, there are over 120 Universal Restrooms throughout campus.
University of Wisconsin - Madison
A touchstone for higher education in the state, the University of Wisconsin – Madison is the oldest and largest public university in Wisconsin. The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center at UW Madison is centrally located on campus, making it convenient for LGBTQ students to access a wide range of resources.
UW Madison does a fantastic job of connecting students through their intersectional identities. The Crossroads Initiative is an intentional effort to link together race, sexuality, and gender as these identities play out in the lives of students. Here are a few programs that have emerged from it:
- Rooted: LGBTQ students of color discussion group
- Wisconsin Trans and Queer People of Color Conference
- QPOC Resource Guide
- LGBTQ speakers, panels, and workshops
The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center also has an amazing archive of training tools and resources that can all be found on their website. Some of the training sessions include Solidarity with LGBTQ Communities, Beyond the Binary: Gender 101, and Treatment, Not Judgement: LGBTQ-Affirming Healthcare.
The University of Vermont is considered a Public Ivy school for its rigorous academics and historical presence. The school ranks in the top 5 by the Princeton Review for its commitment to the environment. It’s report card of 4.5 from Campus Pride also indicates a commitment to its LGBTQ students and staff.
The Prism Center at UVM serves its LGBTQ students through various programs, events, and resources. Each year, students look forward to annual events that celebrate the unique LGBTQ community at UVM. Here’s a look at a few of them:
- LGBTQA Collaborative Queer Prom
- Crockpot Comfort (weekly free, homemade meal)
- Translating Identity Conference
First-year students have a unique opportunity to experience the outdoors with fellow LGBTQ classmates through TREK. Held the week before the fall semester, TREK facilitates a small group of LGBTQ students to form bonds with each other as they backpack through Vermont wilderness.
New York University is situated in one of the most vibrantly queer cities in the world – New York City! Students will not only benefit from the renowned academic reputation of NYU, but they will also experience the historical significance and cultural relevance of the “City that Never Sleeps.”
NYU is bursting with LGBTQ+ events, student groups, trainings, scholarships, lectures – you name it! Everything starts with the LGBTQ Student Center. The Center itself features a lounge, computer lab, library, and more. But its reach goes beyond that, with fantastic social options like:
- Out / Breath (weekly mindful meditation)
- Queer Union
One tangible way to get involved in a leadership position as an undergraduate is through the OUTSpoken Peer Educator program. This program encourages peer mentorship in the NYU LGBTQ+ community. In preparation for this role, students will complete an intensive training and attend an annual retreat.
University of Colorado at Boulder
Queer outdoor enthusiasts among you! If you’re looking for a place where you can be out and proud and enjoy the outdoors, the University of Colorado at Boulder checks off both boxes. Even more, it earned an overwhelmingly positive report card from Campus Pride – 5 stars!
You’ll find an LGBTQ event for every day of the week at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Sponsored through the Gender and Sexuality Center, here are just a few of the many ways that UC Boulder steps up to the plate for its LGBTQ students:
- Five LGBTQ-specific scholarships
- Peer Education workshops
- Boulder Trans and Genderqueer Support Group
- Gay-Straight Alliance
UC Boulder organizes an annual TRANSforming Gender Conference, which is a weekend-long event that spotlights three transgender speakers and influencers. UC Boulder shows its commitment to its transgender students through clear policy, health, and accessibility resources as well.
Syracuse University should be praised for more than just its Division I sports teams and academic rigor. It’s also home to a thriving and diverse community of LGBTQ students and faculty. Its LGBT Resource Center, which got started in 2001, is testament to the school’s queer-friendly campus.
The LGBT Resource Center sets forth three core values in its mission statement: Community Building, Intellectual & Leadership Development, and Outreach/Visibility. These values find a home in the myriad LGBTQ options that Syracuse students have via the Resource Center. Here are a few:
- Queer Kickbacks
- LGBTQ+ Student Social
- Cross Q Connections Discussion Group
For queer and trans students at Syracuse, the year culminates in the Rainbow Banquet. This is a tradition that goes back to 2003, and is open to the public. LGBTQ Syracuse students are treated to a banquet dinner, a keynote speaker, and recognized for the achievements they have made throughout the year.
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee demonstrates its support of LGBTQ students by infusing affirming language, relevant programming, and non-discriminatory policies throughout the entire campus. It proudly sports a 5-star rating from Campus Pride.
In every aspect of college life at UW Milwaukee – academic, social, mental, athletics – you’ll find thoughtful representation and celebration of LGBTQ identities. The LGBT Resource Center is the jumping off point for some great happenings on UW Milwaukee’s campus:
- Annual Coming Out Monologues
- UWM Drag Show
- Transgender Empowerment Art Exhibition
- Trans and Queer People of Color Meet & Greet
UW Milwaukee also extends its support into the classroom by offering an undergraduate Certificate in LGBT Studies. The 18-credit-hour coursework is highly intersectional. Some sample courses include Queer Theory, Economics of Discrimination, and Queer Migrations.
Davidson College fosters a tight-knit campus environment, with over 93 percent of students living on campus all four years. This private college is known as one of the leading liberal arts schools in the nation. Davidson falters in its institutional policies (or lack thereof, rather) when it comes to gender identity and expression, but succeeds in other areas nonetheless.
The Center for Diversity and Inclusion maintains a robust network of resources for its LGBTQ students. These services range from direct support to social engagement. It includes some of the following:
- Queer Mentorship Program
- The Visibility Project (faith-based LGBTQ group)
- Queers & Allies (Q&A)
- Lavender Lounge
The school also offers a Gender & Sexuality Studies major and minor. Students choose from a wide-ranging course list across multiple disciplines and engage in intersectional issues. Some upper-level courses include Politics of Reproduction, Queer Immigration and Diaspora, and Men and Masculinities.
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA
The Pennsylvania State University makes sure the LGBTQ+ community on campus is 100 percent free to be who they are. The school provides a perfect climate for academic success and social engagement. In fact, Campus Pride affirms the work of Penn State by awarding it with a 5-star rating.
The LGBTQA Student Resource Center is a great place to start for all of the queer and trans happenings at Penn State. The Center does everything from academic advising to mentorship to programming, and beyond. Here’s a closer look:
- Queer Peers (leadership development program)
- Ally House (co-living space for LGBTQ+ students)
- Opulence (Drag Ambassador Club)
- LGBTQA Student Roundtable
LGBTQ students at Penn State also have the option of finding financial support. Students can choose from 8 different scholarships that range in funding. Additionally, the Susan R. Rankin Award is set aside for an undergraduate student who shows leadership in the LGBTQ community.
University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
Another school that is part of its larger state system, the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire embraces intersectionality as core to its approach to education. It’s no surprise, then, that UW Eau Claire has a thriving Gender & Sexuality Resource Center, or that it earned a 5-star rating from Campus Pride.
New to UW Eau Claire, students will be able to choose to live in a LGBTQ+ residence floor. Beyond that, queer and trans students are constantly showing up for LGBTQ campus events. Here are just four ways that LGBTQ students are currently getting involved:
- The Fire Ball: APOQLYPSE (annual drag show)
- Safe Space Training
- The CookOUT (annual meal during Welcome Week)
- Q’nnect (peer mentorship program)
UW Eau Claire was a longtime host of the Eau Queer Film Festival. However, it ended last year to make way for a new fall event that brings together queer film, concert, and lectures for prospective and incoming students. Given the success of the Eau Queer Film Festival, this is sure to be a solid event.
Located just outside of Chicago, Northwestern University is a top-ranked private research institution that has produced an impressive list of notable alumni – Pulitzer Prize winners, Nobel Prize winners, actors, judges, and beyond. Many of those alumni belong to the LGBTQ+ community, as Northwestern is known to be a supportive home to all.
Northwestern University features a suite of resources for its LGBTQ+ students, starting with the Gender and Sexualities Resource Center. The GSRC houses a wealth of information regarding trans policies, career services, events, and more. Here are a few LGBTQ student group options:
- Rainbow Alliance
- Pride@Kellogg (Northwestern business school)
- Queer Pride Graduate Student Association
While Northwestern hosts a handful of solid monthly events, the LGBTQ calendar is not as bustling as some other campuses. But rest assured, you’ll be able to take part in events such as Trans Resistance Week, National Coming Out Day, Lavender Graduation, and more.
Montclair State University
Montclair State University receives a 100 percent score from Campus Pride in everything except LGBTQ Policy Inclusion (specifically for name and gender identity change processes). However, in all other regards Montclair is a hugely successful institution for LGBTQ pride and support.
Montclair State University sets forth some lofty goals for the work of the LGBTQ Center. They include “Advocacy, Education, Service, Social Justice,” and more. By and large, they ace the test with some of the following options for the queer and trans community at Montclair:
- Transcending Boundaries (weekly trans meet-up group)
- Over 10 scholarship options for LGBTQ+ students
- Theta Delta Sigma (LGBTQ-focused Greek Life)
- Coming Out and Questioning discussion group
Montclair features the Stonewall Suites LGBTQA Living Community. It was established in 2010 as a safe living option for folks who wanted to live with students who shared the same sexual orientation or gender expression. This is a great way to merge your academic and social lives.
Johns Hopkins University, a renowned research university, is also widely praised for its commitment to bettering its LGBTQ policies and representation on campus. LGBTQ Life, the campus center, reaches out through advocacy, networking, education, and more.
LGBTQ Life at Johns Hopkins tries its best to give students a personalized experience. Through one-on-one meetings with staff and individualized health care strategies, they achieve that. Here are some other ways that LGBTQ Life keeps queer campus life thriving:
- Bridges: LGBTQ Spirituality
- Out for Business (Carey Business School LGBTQ+ Club)
- Safe Zone trainings
- Gender-neutral restroom project
Johns Hopkins University earned its notoriety as a school in part through its impressive medical system. LGBTQ medical students proudly occupy that space and organize through the Gertrude Stein Society. They socialize together, organize events, and advocate for more inclusive LGBTQ medical treatments.
Proudly sporting a 5-star rating from Campus Pride for its LGBTQ-friendliness, the University of Louisville is ready to meet the needs of all its students, no matter their gender or sexual expression. There are LGBT Center offices at both the main campus and the Health Science Center.
The University of Louisville covers all the bases – an LGBT- and Social Justice-centered Living Community, LGBTQ academic course options, trans-inclusive policies, LGBTQ student scholarships, and more. Here are a few active LGBTQ groups and events happening on campus:
- PINK! (U of L Drag Show)
- Transformations (trans support group)
- LGBT Health Certificate
- eQuality at the U of L (LGBTQ health competency effort)
Last year, U of L launched an Ally Campaign, which gave non-LGBTQ students the opportunity to step up and show their support. Students were given rainbow pins and stickers to proudly wear, offered Safe Zone Training, and given the chance to participate in a social media campaign.
Case Western Reserve University
A private university based in Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University rises to the challenge of providing a safe home-away-from-home for its queer and trans students. Where it lacks a bit in LGBTQ academic offerings and specific housing options, it makes up for in a vibrant student life and unequivocal support from the administration.
Case Western Reserve University is teeming with opportunities for LGBTQ+ students to connect. Most prominently, the LGBTQA Conversation Groups are a way for students to have a confidential and safe weekly discussion with their peers. Here are a few ongoing groups:
- Gender Resistance
- Unite: Queer & Trans People of Color
- Girls Like Girls
- Polyamory Family
Case Western Reserve University also hosts a program called Found Families. This is a group that allows for connection and community among LGBTQ students of all ages and backgrounds. During “Family Reunion” nights, groupings will watch a movie, go out to eat, or just hang out. It is especially meaningful for students who don’t have a supportive biological family.
A small liberal arts school tucked into bustling Minneapolis, Minnesota, Augsburg University shouldn’t be overlooked. It earned a 5-star rating from Campus Pride for the numerous ways it has worked to protect its LGBTQ students via academic support, housing options, and institutional policies.
Small but mighty, Augsburg University is intentional about offering LGBTQIA+ student services. This includes a LGBTQ+ student leadership retreat, trans-inclusive policies, LGBTQ scholarships and awards, and more. Here’s a look at more specific programming:
- QIPOC (Queer Indigenous and People of Color)
- Soup, Gender, & Sexuality (monthly dialogue series)
- LGBTQIA+ Biweekly Newsletter
- Queer Pride Alliance
One interesting component to this school is the fact that Augsburg University is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 2009, however, the school issued a Reconciling in Christ Statement, which made clear its affirmation of the LGBTQ community – “people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are welcome with the Augsburg University community.”
The University of Cincinnati is one of the largest institutions of higher education in the state of Ohio. It is home to over 44,000 students. UC works hard to make sure that each and every student feels safe and supported, including the school’s LGBTQ community. This has earned UC a 4.5-star rating from Campus Pride.
The University of Cincinnati takes a modest but effective approach to its LGBTQ programming. Through the LGBTQ Center, students can find support groups, an LGBTQ academic honor society, and numerous educational opportunities. Here are some more specifics:
- LGBTQ Activist Training
- Queer Spirituality support group
- LGBTQ History Month
- Kaleidoscope support group
One amazing way in which UC shows its support for the LGBTQ community is through its Activist in Residence program. This series spotlights an individual who is working to bring transnational activism and cultural education to a broader community.
Tucked into the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, you’ll find Warren Wilson College, a small liberal arts school that is known for its work-study program. The campus atmosphere is notoriously liberal. Perhaps refreshingly, this means the school casually and confidently folds in its LGBTQ students without much fanfare or exceptionalism.
Advocacy and education for LGBTQ campus issues are housed within the Wilson Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Office (WIDE). Among this small campus of under 700 students, there are still ways for queer and transgender students to feel included and celebrated. Here’s a glimpse:
- Spectrum Group
- LGBTQ Activist speakers
- Gender and Women’s Studies classes
- Gender-neutral bathrooms and showers
Warren Wilson also features the Center for Gender and Relationships, which is a hugely beneficial resource to all students at the college. However, it focuses specifically on providing resources to the LGBTQ+ community through areas like sexual assault prevention, gender equity, and sexual health and education.
LGBTQ pride is strong at Babson College. This private school in Massachusetts is designed specifically for entrepreneurship education, but Babson students receive much more in the meantime. Their LGBTQ support and advocacy earned them a 4.5-star rating by Campus Pride.
A common slogan at Babson reads, “Entrepreneurship of All Kinds requires Diversity of All Kinds.” The school holds true to that phrase through multiple groups and action-oriented events all catered to Babson’s LGBTQ+ community. Some of those include:
- LGBTQ Action Group
- Out Network (group for MBA students)
- LGBTQ+ History Month
- Pride Awards at Lavender Graduation
One highlight for LGBTQ students at Babson (and student allies) has been marching in the annual Boston Pride Parade. This is a tradition that has been going strong for six years. The Pride Parade is a way for students to merge with the broader Boston LGBTQ+ community.
There are hugely unique LGBTQ projects afoot at the University of Kentucky. The only reason this 5-star rated Campus Pride school isn’t higher on our list is because of its lower College Choice score (which factors in student retention, tuition, etc). If you’re purely looking for a school based on LGBTQ support, UK is a fantastic option.
The University of Kentucky builds its LGBTQ programming off of three core pillars: education, community building, and advocacy. Based on this template, queer and trans students benefit from co-housing via the Audre Lorde Social Justice Living Learning Community, free HIV testing, queer events, and more. Here’s a closer look:
- Feast on Equality (fundraiser for the LGBTQ community)
- Transforming the Conversation: Sexual Health
- Pride Party: Arts & Crafts
- Rainbow Conversation (dialogue series)
The University of Kentucky plays an integral role in keeping the rich history of the queer South alive through the OUTSOUTH LGBTQ+ Oral History Project. This project is an effort to preserve the stories of queer southerners and expand access to LGBTQ scholarly material.
The University of Houston may be last on this list, but don’t pass this one up! It’s still in the top 50 schools in the nation for its LGBTQ-friendliness. And given its location in a notoriously discriminatory state, the University of Houston is going above and beyond to protect its students.
The University of Houston takes a multi-step approach to LGBTQ advocacy, largely fueled by its LGBTQ Resource Center. Its efforts have earned it a 4.5-star rating with Campus Pride. Here’s a peek into some of the unique programming available to queer and trans students:
- Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Squad (LGBTQ leadership team)
- Speakers Bureau (panel of volunteer advocates)
- Cougar Ally Training
- Peer Mentoring Program
Transgender students will find more than just the bare minimum services at UH. In addition to gender-inclusive housing and a preferred name process, the school has a Speech and Language Clinic in which trans students can work on voice feminization or masculinization.