UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State again counts among the top 25 schools in the nation in the Campus Pride Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning-Friendly Campus Climate Index, produced annually by a national organization.
The University received 4.5 out of five stars for overall campus climate for 2015 and is named among the Top 25 LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges and Universities in the United States by Campus Pride, a national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to improve LGBT environments at colleges and universities.
Campus Pride recently overhauled the Campus Pride Index — a national benchmarking tool which self-assesses LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices — to higher national standards and benchmarking. The Index is based on research on policy, program and practice and is conducted for and by LGBTQ experts in the field of higher education. The tool is free of charge and can be found online on Campus Pride's website.
"The new and updated Campus Pride Index is now more inclusive of areas many campuses need to focus on," said Allison Subasic, director of Penn State's LGBTQA Student Resource Center. "In the past, it was easy for us to rank with 5 stars, now we are at 4.5 — but this is not a bad thing. It means that we still have work to do and mostly in the areas of transgender policies, procedures and gender-neutral restrooms as well as with athletics and some educational programmatic outreach.
"I think it’s good that we continue to strive to be the best in the country and to make Penn State the No. 1 choice for LGBTQA students in the country. To do this we will continue our education, advocacy and outreach, and continue to improve in the areas we need to focus on," she said.
The index tool includes 50+ self-assessment questions, which correspond to eight different LGBTQ-friendly factors: policy inclusion; support and institutional commitment; academic life; student life; housing; campus safety; counseling and health; and recruitment and retention efforts. Each school listed receives an overall LGBTQ-friendly score based on a five-star model, as well as breakdowns based on sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and the eight LGBTQ-friendly factors. The schools also receive recommendations for improvements.
In order to be in the Top 25 listing, an institution had to score the highest percentages in the LGBTQ-friendly benchmarks. The listing this year includes colleges with student populations from 1,600 to more than 50,000, public and private schools alike.
Shane Windmeyer, Campus Pride executive director, said "there is a lot to be learned" from the Top 25 campuses. "Many of the campuses are specifically addressing recruitment and academic retention efforts for LGBTQ students as well as concerns for transgender student safety, as reflected by their willingness to be the first campuses to take the updated assessment."
According to the website, the index provides a solid foundation to further examine LGBTQ issues and, most importantly, to improve LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices.