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The Most LGBTQ+ Friendly Colleges and How To Find Yours

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

Two fists stick out toward the camera in front of a black background. On each knuckle is a letter. In order is says "LGBTQIA+" Each letter is a different color of the rainbow.

Nothing is more important in the college search process than finding the space in which you belong.

For students within the LGBTQ+ community, college is the chance to truly explore your identity and find others like you. Having a supportive environment that makes you feel safe is crucial.

While this list showcases a few of the top schools based on policies geared towards LGBTQ+ students, I also want to share a few tips for your search to help you find the best school for you.

Pay attention to the more publicly available factors, such as the institution’s policies on nondiscrimination, housing, and restrooms.

  • Is the language inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity?
  • Is there a process for chosen/preferred names, and how accessible is it to students?
  • What resources are available specifically to LGBTQ+ students?

Most schools will have a student organization for LGBTQ+ students and allies, but look into whether or not the school has additional spaces dedicated only to LGBTQ+ students.

  • Is there an office or individual specifically meant to help students in the community?
  • What events are typically hosted that are geared towards the LGBTQ+ community on campus?

Training for faculty and staff is crucial in fostering a safe and inclusive environment for all. Look into diversity training for faculty and staff across campus such as the health and counseling center.

Contact your college admissions officer or, if the school has one, the LGBTQ+ resource center or individual about what types of events are hosted on campus for students in the LGBTQ+ community.

Lastly, look into the curriculum if possible. If the institution values the voices and experiences of queer individuals, then do they have coursework in the field of gender and sexuality? Do they offer a major or minor?

Don’t be afraid to contact faculty in the department if you have an interest in studying the field in addition to addressing any questions or concerns you have about what the campus climate is like for LGBTQ+ students. 

Now that you have these tips in mind, here’s a look at some of the top LGBTQ+ friendly schools and why you should consider some of them!

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Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ

Queer and trans students will find LGBTQ+ events, education, housing, and academics through the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities.

Rutgers also makes the transition into college much smoother for LGBTQ+ students through a program called 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.

University of Colorado – Boulder in Boulder, CO

If you’re the outdoorsy type, CU Boulder has ample opportunities for you! You’ll find an LGBTQ+ event for every day of the week courtesy of the Gender and Sexuality Center, such as peer education workshops and a support group for trans and genderqueer individuals.

Additionally, CU Boulder organizes an annual TRANSforming Gender Conference, which is a weekend-long event that spotlights three transgender speakers and influencers. CU Boulder shows its commitment to its transgender students through clear policy, health, and accessibility resources as well.

University of Washington in Seattle, WA

One thing that makes the University of Washington stand out is its strong LGBTQ+ academic presence. Students at the undergraduate and graduate level can earn a Gender and Sexuality Studies degree.

Their ‘Q Center’ also provides a two-credit course called Queer 101, which explores the intersectionality in LGBTQ+ issues.

Outside of academics, LGBTQ+ students still have lots of opportunities on campus. The Q Center provides programming throughout the year, such as a mentorship program and an event to signify Trans Day of Remembrance. One key attribute of the University of Washington is the Marsha P. Johnson Memorial Library, which contains over 1500 books.

University of Maryland – College Park in College Park, MD

University of Maryland – College Park is well-equipped to welcome LGBTQ+ students to campus with opportunities such as LGBTQ+-inclusive Greek life opportunities as well as training seminars with the Rainbow Terrapin Network.

The institution also makes its inclusive policies and institutional commitment to LGBTQ+ students clear and easily accessible.

Columbia University in New York, NY

Being in New York City gives students at Columbia ample opportunities to be engaged with the greater queer community in New York.

The school provides a wide array of programming and resources for LGBTQ+ students, including group advising, education opportunities, advocacy, health services, and more.

University of Massachusetts – Amherst in Amherst, MA

From a vibrant student life to inclusive institutional policies, UMass – Amherst is a great option for LGBTQ+ students to consider. 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, ranging from HIV and STI testing, LGBTQ+ workshops and lectures, and a weekly newsletter!

UMass – Amherst also has 172 gender-inclusive restrooms across campus and 21 gender-inclusive showers in residence halls.

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Author: James Rinker

I am a senior at Keene State College in Keene, NH! I am a communication major with a concentration in philosophy and a minor in professional writing. As a queer, first-generation, and low-income college student I am passionate about helping other students like myself in their college journey. By sharing my story and experiences, I hope I can help make the college admissions process just a little easier!