As more and more American colleges and universities take steps to be safer and more inclusive for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, San Diego State continues to be a leading LGBT-friendly campus. SDSU has retained its five-star rating from Campus Pride's LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index.
This year, 33 schools – nearly double the number from last year – received the highest ratings available for institutions of higher education, including SDSU for the second year in a row.
Focus on education
“We’re working toward a culture of inclusion at San Diego State,” said Aaron Bruce, chief diversity officer at San Diego State. “We’ve made great strides and it’s an honor to be recognized for the work that we’ve done. The goal is to make all of our students, as well as LGBT faculty and staff feel comfortable and safe, so they can focus on learning and educating.”
The nationally-praised Index takes an in-depth look at LGBT-friendly policies, programs and practices. Colleges are rated from one to five stars, depending on their answers to a detailed, voluntary questionnaire submitted to Campus Pride, a national non-profit organization working to create safer, more LGBT-inclusive colleges and build future LGBT and ally leaders.
Launched online in Fall 2007, the Index has become a staple in student and faculty research, campus organizing efforts and benchmarking for LGBT student safety and inclusion on campus.
LGBT friendly campus
Among the more notable efforts SDSU has made in this area in recent years are Safe Zones, a volunteer training program that equips trained Safe Zone "allies" with tools to guide students and others to campus and community resources; the launch of an LGBT minor, a rainbow flag raising to celebrate Pride week, an LGBTQ Resources Fair and the lavender graduation for students who identify as LGBTQ. SDSU is also awaiting approval on the country’s first LGBT major.
“Many of the efforts on our campus have been led by the students themselves,” Bruce said. “We have leadership here who have been open to the suggestions and responsive to the needs of this, as well as the other diverse communities on campus. And that goes a very long way.”
This year 33 schools received perfect five-star rating because they excelled in eight areas:
- LGBT Policy Inclusion
- LGBT Support & Institutional Commitment
- LGBT Academic Life
- LGBT Student Life
- LGBT Housing
- LGBT Campus Safety
- LGBT Counseling & Health
- LGBT Recruitment and Retention Efforts
In addition to San Diego State University, the colleges and universities scoring five-star ratings this year include:
- American UniversityAmherst College
- Carleton College
- Dartmouth College
- Emory University
- Humboldt State University
- Indiana University
- Ithaca College
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Oberlin College
- Oregon State University
- Princeton University
- Southern Oregon University
- Stanford University
- Syracuse University
- The Ohio State University
- The Pennsylvania State University
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of California, Los Angeles
- University of California, Riverside
- University of California, Santa Barbara
- University of California, Santa Cruz
- University of Maine
- Farmington University of Massachusetts, Amherst
- University of Michigan
- University of Oregon
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Southern California
- University of Vermont
- University of Washington
- Washington University in St. Louis
- Whitman College
More work to be done
"Campus Pride applauds all campuses who have "come out" on the Index, regardless of their rating. By doing so these campuses are taking active responsibility for their LGBT campus community,” said Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer. "The Campus Pride Index grew by nearly a third over the past year, but there are still many, many other colleges and universities who have yet to “come out” for their LGBT students and then take adequate steps to protect and ensure a safe, welcoming learning environment."
Campus Pride's 2010 State of Higher Education, an in-depth report documenting the experiences of over 5,000 college students, faculty, staff and administrators, showed that only seven percent of colleges and universities nationwide have institutional support for LGBT students. Surprisingly, only 13 percent include sexual orientation in campus non-discrimination policies and just six percent include gender identity protections.
"According to our national research, more than a third of transgender and 13 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual students, faculty and staff fear for their physical safety on campuses across the United States," Windmeyer says. "As a result, more than a third of some of these students and faculty have seriously considered leaving their school. We must do better."