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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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The flag symbolizes the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identities on campus. The flag symbolizes the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identities on campus.

SDSU Repeats as a ‘Best of the Best’ for LGBTQ Students

With a wide array of notable programs and policies, the university drew a five-star rating from Campus Pride.
By Jeff Ristine

Assessing the commitment to LGBTQ students at colleges and universities across the United States, Campus Pride Index selected only 40 as the “Best of the Best.”

For a second straight year, San Diego State University is one of them. 

SDSU again earned a perfect five-star score for LGBTQ programs, practices and policies that make a safer and more inclusive environment. It is the only California university, public or private, included in this year’s Best of the Best, a distinction Campus Pride said it reserves for universities that “have shown themselves to be deeply committed to LGBTQ students.”

SDSU’s score reflects such features as its major and minor in LGBTQ+ Studies in the College of Arts and Letters, The Pride Center, a Pride Employee Resource Group, various awareness initiatives and the Lavender Graduation ceremony started in 2009.

“We know that students are more successful academically, when they feel like they belong on campus,” said Jessica Nare, assistant vice president for Community & Belonging in the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Diversity. “SDSU aims to foster a campus culture that values and celebrates queer and trans students. 

“Our Pride Center, the LGBT Studies Department, the Pride ERG, and the LGBTQ Research Consortium at SDSU are just a few of the departments that provide leadership, advocacy, and support for LGBTQIA students,” Nare added. “We are incredibly proud of this recognition and will continue to refine policies and programs that support the personal, professional, and academic success of LGBTQIA students.” 

Finding community

Located on Campanile Drive, and currently filling some staff vacancies, The Pride Center aims to provide a space where LGBTQIA+ and ally community members can explore, expand, evolve, and embrace their understanding of sexual orientation, romantic orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Its Instagram site identifies a wide range of upcoming activities.

Kay Wong, assistant director at the center, said the Campus Pride designation tells prospective students that SDSU “is a place where they can potentially find community; hopefully feel seen and accepted on campus.”

The center’s purpose extends to lesser-known needs, too, such as helping students transgender students legally change their gender or name, or supporting students with Study Abroad plans in regions of the world with laws that may be hostile to them.

And the center sometimes hears from parents seeking reassurance their students will find a welcoming and safe environment, Wong said. “Absolutely it makes a difference for them.”

In addition to policy inclusion and support and commitment, Campus Index looks at matters of academic life, student life, counseling and health, campus safety, housing, and recruitment and retention to determine its ratings.

SafeZones@SDSU seeks to ensure a welcoming campus atmosphere, and Out for Business at SDSU is a student organization for LGBTQ+ students of all majors interested in careers in business.

About 8% of SDSU students identify as LGBTQ+, according to figures submitted by SDSU to the website and magazine INSIGHT Into Diversity.