LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges in 2015: An Exclusive Interview About the New Campus Pride Index

This year’s Campus Pride Top 25 LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges of 2015 list is out, and it features fantastic schools to consider if you’re looking for an inclusive college environment.

We spoke with Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride, about the Index — and the positive changes that it has helped create at colleges and universities across the country. Here’s an excerpt of our interview:

Noodle: How have the standards for the Index evolved since its inception?

Campus Pride: ​Colleges and universities have an institutional responsibility for creating a learning environment that supports all students. ​National benchmarks have evolved for LGBTQ students in policy, program, and practice — especially in areas for transgender inclusion and safety. Plus, there is a greater need for campuses to consider LGBTQ identity as part of tracking retention and academic success. Campus Pride raised the bar this year to ensure the Campus Pride Index maintains a high bar for LGBTQ inclusion and safety across the country.

Noodle: Are there any particular patterns you’ve noticed in the data in this year’s Index?

Campus Pride: ​The Top 25 Campuses are focusing on the increased needs for trans safety and inclusivity. Plus the Top 25 are more active in retention and recruitment work overall for LGBTQ students.​ The new Campus Pride Index benchmarks delve more deeply into LGBTQ standards for inclusion today.

Noodle: What role does the Index play in Campus Pride’s goal to get campuses to improve experiences for LGBTQ students?

Campus Pride: ​Since 2007, Campus Pride has highlighted the positive work of colleges and universities in responding to the needs of LGBTQ students with its Campus Pride Index. As a result, we have witnessed more campuses wanting to be LGBTQ-friendly and, more importantly, using the Index as part of strategic planning to improve their policies, programs, and practices. Eighty percent of the campuses that participated in 2013 came back in 2014 and improved their Campus Pride Index score by at least one benchmark for LGBTQ inclusion. Whether a campus has one star or five stars, Campus Pride believes the key is to have a roadmap for improvement and for campuses to take greater responsibility for creating safer, more welcoming LGBTQ-friendly learning environments.

Noodle: How does Campus Pride work to recognize colleges that didn’t make the top 25 but are doing a great job to help LGBTQ students in parts of the country where LGBTQ support isn’t as strong?

Campus Pride: ​Not every student wants to go to college out of state, nor can everyone afford expensive options for college. Campus Pride understands this and encourages youth and families to look at the larger Campus Pride Index in addition to the Top 25 list. The campuses that took the time to come out on the Campus Pride Index did so because they want to be visible as LGBTQ-friendly and to be held accountable for LGBTQ-inclusive initiatives. It does not cost anything for a campus to be on the Campus Pride Index, and the tool is based on national research for LGBTQ inclusion. In addition, many campuses that want to recruit LGBTQ students will also participate openly in the Campus Pride National College Fair program. More information is online at the Campus Pride College Fair.

Follow this link for another Noodle Expert perspective on the importance of inclusive campuses for LGBTQ students.

You can also use the Noodle college search feature to find out what schools match your needs and interests.