College Resources for LGBT Students
There are many colleges and universities that strive to not only welcome a diverse population, but to create a campus environment that reflects and nourishes that community. Finding those campuses can sometimes be a challenge. The information below provides tips and ideas for how best to find colleges and universities that are open to and supportive of LGBTQ+ students.
A Safe and Welcoming Campus
College can provide the affirmation, community, support, and resources that LGBTQ+ young adults need to not only survive, but thrive. Below are some fundamental factors that make a campus welcoming, and, even more importantly, nourishing.
LGBTQ+ Resource Center
Perhaps the most important facet of a LGBTQ+ friendly campus is the resource center. While some LGBTQ+ centers stand alone, others work in collaboration with other student or diversity centers. Either way, the resource center is the nucleus of LGBTQ+ student life, providing not only a safe space but access to resources and services designed specifically to promote LGBTQ+ presence and participation on campus. From discussion groups and mentorship programs to Pride events and Lavender Graduations, the resource center works in dual directions, for the university and for the student, bridging the gaps that can make school difficult for LGBTQ+ students. For a comprehensive list of colleges and universities that have LGBTQ+ resource centers, check out the College Equality Index.
Naturally, each university’s calendar looks different from another’s, but the most welcoming and supportive schools offer a combination of weekly and annual events celebrating and honoring their LGBTQ+ students.
Even if you are not planning to allocate your education strictly to LGBTQ+ studies, students are encouraged to find a college that infuses their curriculum with the voices of and contributions from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
The importance of a positive—that is, inclusive—residence life, especially for incoming students, cannot be overstated. Home is where you should feel safe and the most yourself! And the fact that many students have yet to experience a safe and welcoming home life only compounds the need for a school to prioritize their LGBTQ+ students’ residence life.
College and university LGBTQ+ Resource Centers are unequivocally a place to connect. But many now offer the opportunity for even closer connection through peer mentoring programs. Especially for first-year or transfer students, getting involved in mentoring is a critical first-step to involvement in the larger LGBTQ+ community. Mentors act as a positive role model, as those who know the cultural nuances of the campus. They provide support, guidance, information to resources, and answers to your questions on what it means to be LGBTQ+ at your school.
Groups and Organizations
Social groups are the nucleus of a vibrant LGBTQ+ resource center. A particularly active and high-functioning center will accommodate groups and organizations that align with various identities and needs. The examples below reflect a sampling of student groups one can find through a university LGBTQ+ resource center.
- Gay and straight alliance
- Trans and gender-nonconforming groups
- Reading and discussion groups
- Queer athletes
- Questioning groups
- Queer people of color
- Faith-oriented LGBT students
- Asexual and non-binary groups
Tip: For more on what makes a campus safe, welcoming, and nourishing for LGBTQ+ students, we recommend visiting Campus Pride.