Choosing a College for LGBT Students: Factors to Consider
Below are some factors you should look into when searching for a school that’s a perfect fit for you as an LGBTQ student.
School Policy Against Discrimination
The best way to find out whether a school is open to LGBT students would be to research its history, stand and policies for students in this group. Read its policies to establish whether or not there’s one that prohibits the school from discriminating against LGBT students.
Is there a student organization committed to giving LGBT students enough support?
You can determine this by reading or inquiring about the LGBT student organization in your school of choice. Find out about the representation and support mechanisms that the organization offers its members. Also, inquire if there’s a professional whose sole responsibility is to raise awareness on the concerns and issues that LGBT students face. This will help you understand just how much the institution is dedicated to fairness and inclusion in the system.
How Culturally-sensitive is the school?
Are there any faculty members who identify as LGBTQ? Also, does the school offer a major in LGBT studies, or does the curriculum taught in subjects such as sociology and psychology cover areas like gender studies and sexuality? A school that welcomes LGBTQ faculty and offers such courses is a good choice as it shows its cultural sensitivity.
Does the school go the extra mile to enhance your experience as a student?
Some institutions create social events and campus-wide activities for LGBT students. Another way of meeting the student’s social needs is through launching recreational facilities and clubs. These are great platforms to help with the growth of a student outside of the classroom.
Does the school cater to the mental health needs of LGBT students?
Find out how prepared school counselors are when it comes to dealing with LGBT students. You can inquire whether the counselors are trained to anticipate the needs of LGBT students. This is a very important aspect to consider when choosing schools because it’ll help you know just how much help you will get when you need it.
Rights of LGBT Students: How the Law Protects You.
These are some of your right as an LGBT student:
- Title IX
Title IX of the Education Amendments states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance”. Basically, no student should be discriminated against or harassed for their sex, sexual orientation or gender expression / identity.
- 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The 1st Amendment allows people to carry out peaceful demonstrations and grants them freedom of speech. The Supreme Court ruled that public school students exercise their 1st Amendment rights to free speech. Therefore LGBT students have every right to hold peaceful protests, raise concerns as LGBT community and dress in a way that expresses their gender identity.
- Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment
The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution states that: “No state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” This clause means that all citizens have the right to equal protection. All LGBT students must therefore be protected from bullying or harassment on the same level as non-LGBT students.
Online Resources for LGBT Students
Human Rights Campaign (http://www.hrc.org) The Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights Campaign Foundation are two of the largest LGBT civil rights organizations in the US. They push for equality, acceptance and fairness in communities, schools and workplace. The two groups engage individuals and communities to create awareness on basic equal rights of the LGBT community. They provide resources for education, healthcare and coming out.
GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) http://www.glaad.org
GLAAD is an organization that advocates for the LGBT community. It partners with media houses and outlets to create a platform where LGBT members can be heard. The group offers numerous resources for bisexuals, aging members, youth, military, transgender and resources for the LGBT community in general. Examples of these resources include Anti-Violence Project, Out & Equal, Straight for Equality, COLAGE, National Resource Center for LGBT Aging, National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), The American Military Partner Association (AMDA), Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Bisexual Resource Center. You will also find legal and political resources such as the Victory Fund and The LGBT Bar.
Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals http://www.lgbtcampus.org
The Consortium of Higher Education: LGBT Resource Professionals works with LGBT student offices and resource centers to create a better experience for students, faculty, staff and administrators. They push for better services and policy changes to improve the lives of LGBT students. The consortium has resources such as forums and the LGBTQ architect through which LGBTA programs can share information. Through its website, you can find LGBT centers near you via the LGBT Map. It also has research postings and fully supports research which aims to further the mission of the consortium.
It Gets Better Project http://www.itgetsbetter.org The It Gets Better Project was started in 2010 by columnist Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller. The mission of the project is to reach out to youth who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, inspiring, motivating and encouraging them to keep fighting, and that they will find happiness and fulfillment. The project was begun in response to the bullying, tormenting and harassment that most LGBT teenage and adolescents endure. It supports them and gives them hope for a better, positive tomorrow.
The National LGBTQ Task Force http://www.thetaskforce.org The National LGBTQ Task Force was started in 1973 as an advocacy group for the LGBTQ community. It is devoted to creating an environment where everyone enjoys the freedom to express themselves and live in trueness. It pushes for justice and equality for LGBTQ. The task force aims at ensuring that LGBTQ people have access to quality housing, healthcare, basic human rights and equal employment opportunities. It’s fully engaged in activism that will help create a world where you can live in happily.
Gamma Rho Lambda National Sorority http://gammarholambda.org/ Gamma Rho Lamba National Sorority represents young people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. It’s a college-based sorority that offers social and emotional support to transgender individuals, lesbians, gay people, questioning, bisexual, LGBTQI allies. It advances tolerance, trust, unity and diversity as well as lifelong family bonds. Anyone can join the existing chapters or start new chapters in college if you are a student.
United States Students Association http://usstudents.org
The United States Students Association (USSA) is one of the oldest student-led organizations in the country. It raises concerns at local, state and national levels about issues affecting students. It offers conventions including the Annual Awards Dinner, National Student Power Summit and USSA National Student Congress. It also offers training and runs campaigns to improve the lives of students.
Campus Pride http://www.campuspride.org/ Campus Pride is a network driven by and for student leaders. The network consists of staff, volunteers and educational partners who together come up with programs, services and resources for LGBT and LGBT ally students in the US. It offers a number of resources including the Advisor Academy which is a summer camp for undergraduate students; the Purple Backpack Resource Guide; the Campus Pride Index which highlights campus score, LGBT friendly policies and practices and finally the Campus Pride Sports Index which advances collegiate recreation and intercollegiate athletics for LGBT participants, staff and coaches.
Reaching Out MBA http://www.reachingoutmba.org Reaching out MBA has programs and an annual conference where members learn the challenges of LGBT MBA students and leaders as well as the opportunities available, and how to make good use of them. Through it, member students are able to make connections. The program also inspires them to become leaders who advocate for equality in the society and workplace. It has initiatives such as summit & expo for prospective LGBT MBAs, Out Women business conferences, fall and summer treks for current and admitted students, leadership summits and consulting projects.
Delta Lambda Phi https://dlp.org/ Delta Lambda Phi was an organization founded by gay men for all men regardless of their gender expression or sexual orientation. It has at least 30 chapters, 5 colonies and interest groups in all parts of the country. The purpose of the organization is to improve the quality of life for men through services rendered and social & recreational activities. They push for equality and non-discrimination, fighting for the rights of those who can’t speak for themselves. They also educate people diversity in culture, principles and ideologies.
The Trevor Project http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
The Trevor Project was started with the aim of helping kids and young adults, through crisis intervention and prevention of suicide. This target group receives education, professional counseling and resources to help them overcome their challenges and go on to lead meaningful lives. The project’s resources including the Support Center where LGBT youth and allies can seek answers or find answers to commonly asked questions; Preventing Suicide where you can learn about warning signs, facts and what to do to prevent suicide, and finally a search engine through which you can find local, regional and national resources.
Bi-Net USA http://www.binetusa.org/ Bi-Net USA is the leading bisexual organization in the US and strives to create a network of bi-friendly and bisexual groups. Its mission is to create bisexual, pansexual and queer awareness thus promoting anti-discrimination policies in establishments and communities. It also collects and distributes information on gender identity and sexual orientation of bisexual, pansexual, fluid and queer communities. The organization also provides trainings, presentations and panel discussions as part of its mission to advance awareness on bisexual issues.
Trans Student Educational Resources http://www.transstudent.org The Trans Student Educational Resources is an organization led by students, with the aim of advocating for better learning environments for Trans students and gender nonconforming students. They also educate the public on how to be more accepting of the Trans community and train transgender activists on how to achieve efficiency. Part of their resources includes camps, conferences and workshops at colleges, schools and universities. You will also find websites to important resources for transgender and other individuals within the LGBT community.
OUT for Work http://www.outforwork.org OUT for Work helps LGBT students develop, evaluate, initiate and implement career plans. It helps them prepare to join the workforce. It also attends events such as PRIDE, the Out and Equal Workplace Summit and the Creating Change Conference. In addition, the organization speaks at LGBT campus group gatherings. Further, it organizes an annual conference which brings together hundreds of students from across the country. The conference gives them the perfect opportunity to network with LGBTQA employees or representatives, and to discuss being out at workplaces, in interviews or at any other gathering.
Safety Net http://onesafetynet.com/ Safety Net is an organization that focuses on the well-being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Allied (LGBTQQI&A) students in religious colleges and universities. They assist them and provide necessary resources to those particularly facing discrimination. They help LGBTQQI&A group leaders in their work at these institutions. They also help potential leaders stand up for the rights of LGBTQQI&A students in their schools and create groups such as school-based GSAs. There are various resources available for these students and schools including a Mental Health Access Guide, best practices for Trans* Housing, policies and advice.