Deciding which college to go to is one of the most important decisions in a young person’s life. And for gay students, finding the right college environment that is not only accepting but also boasts a vibrant LGBT presence on campus is a key determining factor.
To help LGBT students choose the right school, college research guide, eCollegeFinder, has created a map of the most gay-friendly colleges in each state. This map serves to illustrate which colleges and universities in the U.S. are making the most profound impact on their LGBT students’ lives.
The gay-friendly colleges on the map all offer a wide range of services catered specifically to help LGBT students thrive, whether that is by creating programs and support centers, providing information and resources, hosting events and guest speakers, instituting inclusive policies in the dorms and in the classrooms, or simply by fostering an open-minded attitude on campus.
Interestingly enough, the colleges receiving high marks as LGBT-friendly also happen to be some of the top-ranking colleges in the country period, including Stanford in California, Yale in Connecticut, Vanderbilt in Tennessee, Princeton in New Jersey, Tulane in Louisiana and University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.The map expands upon The Princeton Review’s annual list of best colleges for gay students by including information from Campus Pride, College Niche, LGBT Colleges, Best Colleges, Mashable, College Express, Advocate, ProQuest, Q Notes, and each college website.
Here’s the full list of the most LGBT-friendly colleges in each state, plus why eCollegeFinder selected them to appear on this map:
Alabama – University of Alabama at Birmingham
- While it may not have all the resources that other colleges and universities have, students from the University say that the LGBT community is strong on campus. The website for the Alliance for LGBTQ Equality at UAB, has a section called “Progress Made.” There you can see strong efforts being implemented for equality, such as unisex bathrooms, “Preferred Name” options, and much more. The campus itself is known for being one of the most diverse in Alabama, so while there may be some conservative thoughts about LGBT rights, the majority of students are accepting and open.
Alaska – Alaska Pacific University
- Offers “Safe Zone Celebration Week,” which offers fun educational events for the community. Events include Drag Queen Bingo, Ally Training, the Day of Silence, and multiple documentaries.
Arizona – Prescott College
- The Diversity & Inclusion committee works to promote, enhance and celebrate diversity. This school offers camps for LGBTQ teens and the Queer Student Union also stands as a stand out student organization. The college also brings speakers on campus, such as Dan Savage, to talk about anything and everything related to sex and relationships.
Arkansas – University of Arkansas at Little Rock
- Located in the heart of Little Rock, a well-known LGBT Friendly City according to the Advocate, LGBT students flourish. With small fun events like the LGBT and Ally Student/Faculty Luncheon, to large events hosted during the LGBT History month or during the National Coming Out Day, there are always opportunities for learning, being out, and feeling proud.
California – Stanford University
- Ranked as one of the Top 20 LGBT friendly colleges for LGBT students by the Princeton Review. Offers a LGBT Community Resource Center that hosts many events, creates safe open spaces, safe workshops, and provides many resources. Students are even invited to grab a cup of coffee with a Queer Events and Services Team member to discuss any LGBT topic. Something unique is the colleges “Greek Chat,” where LGBT students (out or closeted) can talk to other LGBT members and Allies of the Greek community. Pitzer College was also listed in the top 20 rankings.
Colorado – University of Colorado Boulder
- Diversity ranked as an “A-” according to College Niche, and noted in the Advocate for LGBT commitment, students feel very accepted and welcome. The cozy GLBTQ Resource center open during the weekdays offers events every day. Featured annual events are the Lavender Graduation, honoring GLBTQIA students, and the Transforming Gender Symposium, a free conference teaching the community about Trans* and intersex identities and issues.
Connecticut – Yale University
- The Yale Affinity Group offers a student group, LGBT studies program, and many other LGBT resources that stand out as unique, such as Trans* Resources, Queer Tea, Queer Grads resources, and Queer Yoga.
Delaware – The University of Delaware
- The University of Delaware has a very active LGBT club on campus and, according to College Niche, is one of the largest clubs on campus. Faculty, staff and community support is strong, with the Allies Network that is hosted by the Office of Equality and Inclusion. Some resources include, Haven, LGBT counseling, LGBT Faculty/Staff Caucus, and Big Gay Church. According to Campus Pride, LGBTQ Campus Safety is up to par, scoring 100% on all aspects from trained campus police on LGBT issues to hate crime prevention training.
Florida – New College of Florida
- Ranked as one of the Top 20 LGBT friendly colleges for LGBT students by the Princeton Review. The Gender and Diversity offers many resources, although the campus doesn’t any persuasion about equality. The college club, “Queery has been destroying the hetero-normative patriarchal family unit with subversion and laughter since 2009.”
Georgia – Emory University
- Emory regularly trains its staff on how to both prevent violence and aid survivors with counseling and psychological services. In addition to individual attention, the school hosts events including the Emory Pride Drag Show. Since 2004, the show has brought both students and faculty to the stage to perform their hearts out. The money students pay to see professors and peers dress in drag goes straight to keeping the campus LGBTQ support organization thriving. Another great quality is that gender-neutral housing is available and has recently expanded.
Hawaii – The University of Hawaii at Manoa
- Offers not one, but two safe lounges for studying for hanging out. The safe lounge offers national and local LGBT related resources and publications. Like many other colleges, Safe Zone Training, educational programs and events, and group discussions are offered. The University also offers a crisis response and professional referral service team for any harassment, hate crime, or other violent incident related to LGBT students.
Idaho – Boise State University
- Making great efforts for diversity and having the highest scoring ranks in diversity according to Niche, students claim that the campus is very supportive specifically for the LGBT community. Like many student organizations, “The Gender-Sexuality Campus Alliance is a group that reaches out to the campus community to teach about diversity and LGBT issues.”
Illinois – University of Illinois at Chicago
- The University is known for the partnering One More Chance Clinic that hosts weekly discussion groups about emotional disturbances, substance abuse, HIV, incarceration and sexuality issues. They also have a gender and sexuality center for students to express their feelings, or just go hand out and have a good time. Notable events, educational workshops, and happenings are Queer Compass, Heritage Gardens, and the Queer Oral History Project.
Indiana – Indiana University at Bloomington
- Weekly meetings are held by the Girls like Us and Men Like Us groups, which offer peer support through weekly discussions. The GLBT Student Support Services Office updates its blog frequently and offers a GLBT anti-harassment team and Positive Space Initiative, which are both mainly concerned with making students feel safe and welcome. Events are hosted several times a month and incorporate both social and educational themes.
Iowa – Grinnell College
- Grinnell offers the Stonewall Resource Center, which is a confidential, safe space serving Grinnell’s LGBTQQ communities and allies.
Kansas – Kansas State University
- The LGBT Resource Center has a full calendar of events, such as student welcome barbeques, progressive dinners, and Lavender Graduation ceremonies. Once a year, Kansas State University hosts an LGBT Leadership Conference where students can contribute presentations on a number of intersectional subjects. There are six special interest LGBT-friendly groups on campus, including the student chapter of Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medicine Association, Safe Zone, and the FIRE feminist organization.
Kentucky – Western Kentucky University
- Besides many resources for students on campus, they provide support and resources for the community. The LGBT community holds a strong presence at the campus and around the community. The college was a founding sponsor of the student run “Fairness on Fountain Square” initiative, which promotes citywide nondiscrimination ordinance. The school currently has 33 local business sponsors supporting the mission, which is the highest number out of any city’s fairness movements in the state. The Student Identity Outreach club on campus educates those who visit the campus, and also provides events at brave spaces, that are open to the public. Advocates also speak for LGBT students who have a disability.
Louisiana – Tulane
- Tulane has an Office for Gender and Sexual Diversity and focuses its efforts in campus programming. They host many educational events, such as the LGBT Film series and LGBT History Month. Tulane offers a multicultural/LGBTIQA orientation, a peer mentoring program, a multicultural/LGBTIQA leadership retreat in Mississippi, a Safe Zone Ally program, and Pride Prom. Efforts of change are also reflected in the orientation session for freshman, discussing microaggressions and gender pronouns. The college also has a nondiscrimination policy inclusive of gender identity and expression, allows students to change name and gender on campus records, and provides student health insurance inclusive of transition-related medical expenses.
Maine – Bates College
- Bates is known for having one of the most LGBT friendly collegiate athletic program. Their recent “You Can Play” video supports LGBT inclusion.
Maryland – University of Maryland at College Park
- The University of Maryland has a widely known program called “The One Project.” This award-winning program helps LGBTQA-identifying first-year students make a successful transition to college. Once transitioned, many organizations are offered. True Colors of Maryland, Women2Women, TransU, Bisexuals at Maryland, Bro2Bro, and many more. Organizations are available too for Faculty/Staff and Graduate Students.
Massachusetts – Emerson College
- According to Princeton Review, is the #1 college for LGBT Friendliness. The student organization EAGLE helps promotes visibility for queer culture throughout the campus and community. The campus offers a Culture center for students to talk or just hang out. Lavrine Cox has visited their campus to help spread awareness. Need I say more?
Michigan – University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
- The Spectrum Center offers many helpful resources, such as the My Voice Program. This popular program provides panels that feature trained LGBTQA and professional speakers to share their personal stories with students and the community. The school also provides Guidance-Perspective-Support, a peer mentorship, for those who want more one on one support.
Minnesota – Carleton College
- Ranked as one of the Top 20 LGBT friendly colleges for LGBT students by the Princeton Review. Vagina Monologues, Transgender Commission Annual Retreat, LGBTQ events, and Tongues United are just a few things to get excited about. The College offers Lavender Housing for LGBTQ students, which is a great perk to the school. Macalester College was also on the Top 20 list.
Mississippi – Mississippi University for Women
- If you are looking for a close to home state school, Mississippi University for Women is a good pick for you. Don’t let the name fool you of this coed school. The school has a “B” ranking on College Niche and students have stated that the college makes the LGBT community feel safe and respected here. The Gay-Straight Alliance at the college helps promote tolerance at the school and helps organize events, such as the Inclusive Conversation, where a Human Rights Campaign speaker came on campus to discuss LGBTQA issues and initiatives.
Missouri – Washington University in St. Louis
- The Student Involvement and Leadership Organization’s Website alone is very impressive, showing that the there is a culturally powerful force here. They offer a virtual home for students, which offers a newsletter and multiple resources for students. For those who want face to face interaction, there is a group called Connections that provides a peer mentorship for students seeking to navigate their sexual or gender identity.
Montana – Montana State University
- Another University making big efforts to be well on its way with LGBT rights. The Queer Straight Alliance at the college hosts drag shows, a “Rainbow Ball,” Out Week events, and other fundraising and informational events for activism. The school has “The Voice Center,” where students can anonymously be hear, (or discuss in person, relationship concerns, reports on violence, counseling, harassment, or other personal problems you may have.
Nebraska – Hastings College
- Hastings College has many advocacy clubs that are known to be strong and vocal, on being the Gay/Straight Alliance. The GSA is part of the Peer-Education Umbrella Network that promotes a positive campus community that reflects attitudes and behaviors. Earlier this year, ACLU came to the college to discuss the issues of LGBT individuals and the rights to marry.
Nevada – University of Nevada at Las Vegas
- Ranked as one of the top ten most diverse college campuses in the nation, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has much to offer for everyone! Besides local LGBT groups, the college LGBT Spectrum club hosts an LGBT Pride Month with many events!
New Hampshire – Dartmouth College
- The Dartmouth LGBT Network offers many resources and fun evening events, such as Tuck Pride.
New Jersey – Princeton University
- Active Allyship, Queering the Color Line Family Dinners, Bisexual Day Celebration, and Hey Mom, I’m Gay! Are a few of the college’s fun educational workshops. Questioning & LGBT Athletes is a unique program that holds confidential meetings for out/questioning athletes.
New Mexico – University of New Mexico
- Proudly scoring high on the Campus Pride Index, the University of New Mexico has a lot to offer! The LGBT Resource center makes sure all feel welcome and provides an immense amount of help and support to students. They have an Art gallery, awareness events, Cafe Q*, counseling, Hate/Bias Intake center, LGBTQ* Library, HIV testing, Safe Zone Training, Social events, Volunteer opportunities, and other educational resources. Many students say the campus climate is very accepting and supportive of the LGBT community.
New York – Sarah Lawrence College
- Ranked as one of the Top 20 LGBT friendly colleges for LGBT students by the Princeton Review. Queer People of Color, Queer Voice Coalition, The Rocky Horror Picture Show Shadow Cast Production, and Trans Action are a few club organizations for you to pick and choose from. If you’re a big city school person, New York University was also on the top 20.
North Carolina – Warren Wilson College
- The Center for Gender and Relationship has brought in numerous LGBT activists on campus, discusses Trans* issues, discusses Asexuality, discusses bisexuality, and has LGBTQIA Ice Cream Socials!
North Dakota – North Dakota State University
- Also showing high ratings on the Campus Pride Index, North Dakota has much to offer as well. The LGBTQ Programs of North Dakota State University offer support for those just coming out, general LGBT support, educational events, the annual Lavender Graduation, a safe zone Ally Program, and much more. Gender neutral/Unisex bathrooms can be found all over campus.
Ohio – Oberlin College
- Ranked as one of the Top 20 LGBT friendly colleges for LGBT students by the Princeton Review. Going above and beyond, the college advocates for the LGBTQ community on and off campus. The college offers gender-neutral housing, and gender neutral bathrooms. Their program, “My Name Is My Own” has film screenings, performances and group discussions hosted by national queer scholars. Reaching out to the community, Oberlin College LGBTQ Community’s History Project has a collection of documents of history of activism from as far back as the 1920’s and meeting notes from their LGBQ Alumni group.
Oklahoma – University of Oklahoma
- While the campus is not paved by rainbows, the University of Oklahoma is known for being in a liberal city and has a generous sized LGBTQ community. According to Niche, students are very accepting and supportive. The school has an LGBTQ, Faculty, and Greek Ally program. Recently, the Queer Inclusion on campus successfully advocated for a new Safe Study space for LGBTQ students.
Oregon – Southern Oregon University
- Ranked as one of the top 25 best colleges for LGBT students! The Queer resource center hosts many popular annual events, including a Queer Carnival, an Erotic Poetry Lit Slam, Winter’s a Drag, GAYme Night, and a Trans Training Workshop. They offer Gender Inclusive Housing and many supportive resources.
Pennsylvania – Bryn Mawr College
- Offers a Gender and Sexuality Program that is an interdisciplinary program committed to the study of a range of questions raised by the category of gender. A Rainbow Alliance is also offered in support for the all girls school. Topics for discussion may include lesbian, gay, bi-sexual/-romantic, Trans*/non-cis, intersex, a-sexual/-romantic, pan-sexual/-romantic, polyamorous, queer and questioning. Bryn Mawr college is known for partnering up with the Philadelphia community’s events. *Zami is another LGBT student organization that is for students of color.
Rhode Island – Brown University
- Brown gives its students a real life guide with the Renn Mentor Program. Students connect with faculty members who are already “out” to give them positive guidance. If you need advice without wanting to see a mentor, you can go to Brown’s website and check the “Guide for Trans and Questioning Students” under the campus life section. It’s like the Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide for LGBTQs, with advice from students in the same shoes.
South Carolina – College of Charleston
- According to the Advocate, the College of Charleston is a “Brave Campus” by providing “Brave Spaces,” which acts similarly to a “Safe Space.” This college has advocated for diverse reads, like Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (an LGBT themed book), for students to read. Despite public and some administrators past disagreements, the Gay-Straight Alliance student club on campus and other staff have a strong impact on the campus. The college security undergo Safe Zone Training, students have hosted LGBTQ Solidarity Rally, and LGBT advocate speakers have come to campus.
South Dakota – Dakota State University
- Another university that is on its way to acceptance. The Gender and Sexuality Alliance (The Alliance) strive for providing a safe place for students to get together and discuss. While the school is not entirely liberal, reports from College Niche say that many students are out ad accepted.
Tennessee – Vanderbilt University
- Vanderbilt has come a long way from what they once were. Where there are still a varying array of opinions at the university, it is becoming more and more progressive. The K.C. Potter Center is where the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Life is located, where students can host group meetings or attend events. Vanderbilt has a non-discrimination policy, equal opportunity and affirmative action policy. In addition to undergrad club groups, there are also many graduate club groups.
Texas – Rice University
- Marching in the LGBT Texas Pride parade, and speaking out in support the US Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, Rice has always been loud and proud, showing that Texas can have pride too.
Utah – University of Utah
- Students say there is a strong LGBT community at University of Utah. The LGBT Resource center hosts many events, such as the annual LGBT Lavender Graduation, Safe Zone training, panels, Queer Peers, and a mentorship program.
Vermont – University of Vermont
- The LGBTQA center at the University of Vermont has a mix of serious educational events and fun hang out events. Fun events may include the Vermont Drag Idol, First Friday Dance Party, and Montreal Pride. Educational events may be attending one or two of several Inclusion discussions.
Virginia – Mary Baldwin College
- An all-girls school, Mary Baldwin College may seem like a small college with an LBTQ club, but in actuality a strong gay friendly school. Students Out Understanding and Loving Students (SOULS) is a prominent club at the college that sets the campus environment. Faculty and Staff often join in on the events and group discussions, which creates a close and warming community. The Safe Zone House is a place where these discussions can be, however the campus is so friendly and open, a discussion could be held anywhere.
Washington – University of Washington
- Meanwhile at the Q center…the University of Washington is always coming up with new events and educational workshops. Besides having awesome speakers, such as Laverne Cox, come to the University to preach and teach, there are more discussions in a more intimate center. The university has tailored discussion groups, like the Lavender Circle and the Trans & Queer Support group, where students can go to really discuss what topic is on their mind or what relates more to them. Washington State University is just as accommodating and another good pick.
West Virginia – Marshall University
- Marshall University is well on its way towards progressiveness. While some people are still close-minded, the university is making big efforts for change. The LGBT office offers a safe space/zone for LGBT students. Students on Niche said, though the college community as a whole is small, the LGBT community on campus is very open and hosts many events.
Wisconsin – University of Wisconsin at Madison
- Ranked as one of the Top 20 LGBT friendly colleges for LGBT students by the Princeton Review. The LGBT Campus Center offers an array of events for LGBT students to feel welcome. Mentorship programs, training workshops, leadership programs, discussion groups, you name it, they have it! The University also ensures the campus is emerged with the local community and vice versa. Even during the summer days, the college’s website stays up to date, featuring happenings around the area, such as PrideFest Milwaukee, Fruit Fest LGBTQI Music Festival, and OUTReach Pride Parade.
Wyoming – University of Wyoming
- Many LGBTQ groups can be directed to you by the Rainbow Resource Center. The Queer resource council as well as the general counseling services are available. Students are welcome to join Advocates and Allies, which specializes in LGBT affairs, or Advocates for Social Justice, which relates to any social justice issues.
Featured Photo: Tulane PR / Flickr