A Look at LGBT Issues on College Campuses
LGBT issues have be come a major topic of discussion on college campuses nationwide. Colleges and universities are taking the steps to become LGBT friendly.
Recently, LGBT college students have been at the center of countless discussions on campuses nationwide. George Fox University in Oregon denied housing for a transgender student on the basis of religion, sparking national debate. And earlier this year, the College of Charleston risked losing thousands of dollars in funding for assigning a homosexual graphic novel to freshmen. Increasingly more campuses are taking initiative to create LGBT support groups, resources, and courses to allow LGBT students to feel welcomed and included.
Many colleges and universities now offer courses in LGBT studies, some even offering LGBT studies as a minor. These courses are varied, ranging in topic from America in the 1960s and the Stonewall Riots to representations of gender in literature. San Francisco State University has a Sexuality Studies department offering a minor in sexuality studies as well as a minor in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies for undergraduates. Through the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Dartmouth hosts the Annual Stonewall Lecture, inviting well-known LGBT-focused speakers to campus. Macalester College offers courses through the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department covering sexuality in literature, history, and film. The list of colleges now offering courses and developing departments for LGBT studies is already lengthy and is continuing to grow.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst offers gender free housing and has the Stonewall Center, a resource center for LGBT students and allies, Rutgers holds safe space training sessions for LGBT students and allies, and the University of Maryland offers the One Program, ensuring LGBT students a safe and comfortable transition to college life. Dozens of colleges and universities are following in these footsteps by creating more accommodating and inclusive bathrooms, living spaces, and health centers.
Campus Pride released findings for the top 50 LGBT-friendly campuses earlier this year, ranking schools using the Campus Pride Index. Rankings are determined by factors such as LGBT-friendly policies, programs, and availability of resources. Campus Pride has seen a shift in college campuses in past years towards more accepting and safe campuses for the LGBT community. According to Campus Pride, “annually campuses update and use the Campus Pride benchmarking tool to improve LGBT life on campus. For the third year in a row, over 80% of participating colleges improved their ratings from the previous year. In addition, the number of campuses located in the South increased this year, as did the number of religiously-affiliated campuses and Minority Serving Institutions.”