- Active LGBTQ+ Student Organization
Campus LGBTQ+ organizations offer a sense of community. Such groups are critical to the well-being of LGBTQ+ students, as they provide social networks, educational and emotional support systems, leadership opportunities, and outlets for activism. Some students may look for LGBTQ+ groups specific to gender identity/expression, students of color, religious affiliations, or special interests/activities.
- Out LGBTQ+ Students
“Where are people like me?” That is how one LGBTQ+ high schooler put it. Students should look for other visible and active LGBTQ+ students on campus. The LGBTQ+ community encompasses many individual backgrounds and identities, and it’s important that prospective students find a campus where they can feel at home.
- Out LGBTQ+ Faculty and Staff
Out LGBTQ+ faculty and staff members signal an inclusive environment. They can also serve as advisors and bases of support throughout the college years. Keep in mind that if a school’s faculty and staff members are not comfortable being out, then it is unlikely that LGBTQ+ students will want to attend that college.
- LGBTQ+-Inclusive Policies
Campus policies demonstrate a commitment to inclusion. Find ratings on LGBTQ+ benchmarks for policy inclusion at CampusPrideIndex.org, a valuable resource for students searching for LGBTQ+-friendly colleges.
- Visible Signs of Pride
Visible symbols of pride–such as rainbow flags and pink triangles–in the student union, campus offices, and social venues create a sense of openness, safety, and inclusion. Their prominent presence also sends a clear signal that the campus is LGBTQ+-welcoming. Other visible signs of openness include Ally or Safe Space/Safe Zone program stickers and buttons.
- Out LGBTQ+ Allies from the Top Down
Allies are essential to LGBTQ+ students, especially when they are active in LGBTQ+-friendly college administrations. LGBTQ+ students should look for examples of allies standing up for LGBTQ+ students on campus. In particular, take note of top-level administrators, such as the president, vice president, or deans, who include LGBTQ+ issues in the campus dialogue. Visible allies are also important in the classroom and in student life.
- LGBTQ+-inclusive Housing and Gender-Inclusive Bathrooms
LGBTQ+-themed housing and gender-inclusive bathrooms contribute to positive living and learning communities. Learn more about fostering safety for trans students through housing and bathroom policies at CampusPride.org/TPC.
- Established LGBTQ+ Center & Support Services
Many LGBTQ+ students seek committed campus resources, such as an established LGBTQ+ center where students can find support and learn about services. If a dedicated center is lacking, students might look for paid LGBTQ+ staff members within the Women’s Center or Multicultural Office. Devoting resources in these areas demonstrates an institutional commitment to LGBTQ+ students similar to that shown for other diverse populations.
- LGBTQ+/Queer Studies Academic Major or Minor
Some high school students are looking for a college where they will have opportunities to study LGBTQ+ issues–by taking classes on LGBTQ+/queer identity, politics, and history. Some may even graduate with an academic major or minor in LGBTQ+/queer studies.
- Progressive Culture and Vibrant LGBTQ+ Social Scene
These are two separate yet interrelated issues. Prospective students should seek an environment where they’ll be accepted fully for all their intersectional identities (race, faith, gender, sexual identity, gender identity, and so on). For some LGBTQ+ students, living on a campus that offers queer or queer-friendly entertainment choices is paramount; other students may prefer to venture off-campus for these and other social activities.