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LGBTQ+ College Student Resource Center

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Many colleges and universities are striving to make campus more inclusive for students, and that includes LGBTQ students. Studies have shown that LGBTQ students who feel supported, safe and accepted do much better in their academic pursuits than those students who may feel marginalized, bullied or forgotten. Learn more about where and how LGBTQ students can find financial and emotional support and discover which U.S. colleges and universities earn the title of the most LGBTQ-Friendly universities.

Meet the Expert

Craig Leets, Jr. Coordinator, Queer Resource Center
LGBTQ Student Support Guide
LGBTQ Student Scholarships & Financial Aid
Most LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges & Universities 2018-2019
Transgender College Student Guide

The Importance of LGBTQ Student Resources

Schools with gay-straight alliance organizations (GSAs) or similar support organizations are just better places to be for LGBTQ students.

Compared to LGBTQ students who did not have a GSA organization in their school, students who went to a school with a GSA report

  • They were less likely to hear “gay” used in a negative way often or frequently
  • Were less likely to hear homophobic remarks or slurs often or frequently
  • Were less likely to hear negative remarks about gender expression and transgender people often or frequently
  • Experienced lower levels of victimization related to their sexual orientation and gender
  • Felt more connected to their school community than students without a GSA.

Source: GLSEN National School Climate Survey

Find Colleges with LGBTQ Centers

LGBTQ campus centers exist to ensure a welcoming and inclusive environment for LGBTQ students while offering support services, resources, programs, connections, programs, training, counseling and more. While some schools offer centers dedicated solely to LGBTQ students, other schools offer resources to these students through their diversity centers. The map below shows colleges and universities that offer LGBTQ student centers, but this map is not exhaustive. If you don’t see a particular school here, be sure to visit their website to see what services and support they offer to LGBTQ+ students.

From the Expert

Craig Leets, Jr. is the Coordinator of the Queer Resource Center at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. Craig earned his Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a minor in Leadership and Organizational Studies at Chapman University in Orange, California before completing his M.A. in Counseling and Personnel Services with a focus in College Student Personnel at the University of Maryland, College Park. While working on his master’s, Craig was employed by UMD as a Resident Director, where he worked on gender-inclusive housing, an inclusive language campaign, and a coming out support group for students. Prior to coming to PSU in October 2013 to lead the QRC, Craig worked at Penn State University as the Assistant Director for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Ally (LGBTA) Student Resource Center.

What are some of the issues that prospective LGBTQ students should be thinking about when choosing a college or college program?

The things that LGBT students are thinking about when they go to college are what we would encourage them to think about. Location is one. Do they want to go away from home? Are they staying at home? Geographic region matters. Online students can study from anywhere, so it probably matters less to them. But for students going to brick-and-mortar institutions, it matters. Urban areas are often more LGBT-friendly than rural areas, so that is one of the subjects we would encourage students to think about.

I would also encourage an LGBT student to determine the extent to which there is a community on campus. For some LGBT students, being part of a community is really important, and some institutions don’t have a community at all, or they have a really thriving and robust community.

For some students, the level of outness is an issue. Some students may not be out to their families. So, the question is: Do they want to go and be out at college and what will that mean? Or, how will that affect their experience? Often we have a lot of first-year students who are not out at home and come to campus and they’re really celebrated and able to be out. Then at Winter break, they want to go home and come out to their families. And we often want to have a conversation about how that might affect their relationships or funding to go to school. So that might be something to think more about.

I think the resources available to LGBT students are also things we would encourage students to take a look at. The number of LGBT centers on campuses is like 200 to 250, as compared to thousands of institutions. And sometimes it’s not just about having a center–it’s about the school’s policies or housing options. So, for example, if a student’s family insists that they attend a school nearby or opt for an online program, the lack of on-campus resources might be a good reason for choosing the online option.

Have you had students that come into your office and tell you that they are thinking about an online program?

I don’t see a whole lot of prospective students. Most of the students we interact with here are already enrolled. I think we have a number of students who do a combination of online and in-class courses or they will move from taking classes on campus to a term exclusively online. And that could be for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s finances; sometimes they just have other things going on in their lives. One thing in particular that I do know of specifically for trans or transgender people, sometimes when they are going through their transition, they don’t want to be on campus and transitioning at the same time. Online education offers the opportunity to transition while still going to school.

If a prospective LGBTQ student came to you and asked about choosing a college or program, what would be your single best piece of advice?

I would say to the person, “Find a place where you can be you and decide what those things are that are the most important to you.” For some people, a big thriving community with a lot of social opportunities is important. For others, activism might be more important. For other folks, they just want to go to school and being out and being visible is not the most important thing to them. So, I would just really encourage the student to look into those schools where they feel like they can be themselves and are able to meet the goals that they have.

LGBTQ Student Organizations & Resources

The best place to start looking for LGBTQ student support is at your own college or university. Beyond officially-sponsored services such as queer resource centers, LBGTQ-friendly colleges are often home to numerous student clubs, fraternities, advocacy groups, and political and social associations. Below is a list of national-level LBGTQ student organizations: