Best LGBTQ Schools

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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.

Best LGBTQ Schools Badge

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.

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We’ve narrowed in on the top 50 best LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities below, but first, the top 10.

Top 10 Best LGBTQ Schools

Rank School Location
1 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
2 The Ohio State University Columbus, OH
3 University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
4 Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO
5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
6 San Diego State University San Diego, CA
7 Princeton University Princeton, NJ
8 Rutgers University New Brunswick, NJ
9 Tufts University Medford, MA
10 University of Maryland - College Park College Park, MD

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.

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.

  1. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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.

  2. The Ohio State University
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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.

  3. University of California - Los Angeles
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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.

  4. Washington University in St. Louis
    Location

    St. Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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.

  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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.

  6. San Diego State University
    Location

    San Diego, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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
    • oSTEM
    • Womyn’s Outreach Association
    • OUTreach

    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.

  7. Princeton University
    Location

    Princeton, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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.

  8. Rutgers University
    Location

    New Brunswick, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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.

  9. Tufts University
    Location

    Medford, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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.

  10. University of Maryland - College Park
    Location

    College Park, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Features

    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:

    • TransU
    • 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.

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