Happy Pride Month! People in the United States and around the world continue to face discrimination– and brutality– because of who they are, and who they love. Sexual orientation and gender identity is integral to our sense of self, and should never lead to inequity or abuse. Queer kids and adults should be made to feel loved and accepted in their own skin. That’s why we’re kicking off Pride Month this year with a list of the top 10 LGBTQ-friendly colleges in America. 

What is Pride Month?

Pride is an annual celebration in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots, a series of protests that many believe were the catalyst to the gay liberation movement of the 1970s. The Stonewall riots began when police invaded the Stonewall Inn, a small gay bar in Brooklyn, NY, in the wee hours of the morning on June 28, 1969. The raid incited a series of spontaneous demonstrations by New York’s gay and lesbian community. It wasn’t long before police turned violent and the demonstrations devolved into riots as the protestors fought back. There were very few establishments at the time where queer individuals could mix freely without the threat of discrimination or brutality. The gay liberation movement urged the LGBTQ community to counter societal shame with gay pride, eventually birthing Pride as we know it today. 

10. University of Maryland – College Park

The University of Maryland – College Park offers a three-tiered program that smoothes the transition into college for queer and trans students, beginning with a pre-semester meetup, a Quelcome kick-off event, and a weekend-long Q Camp. Some of the weekly discussion groups and organizations that LGBTQ students can access in college include:

  • TransU
  • Male-Identified Queers
  • Queer Quests (D&D group)
  • Smith Pride Alliance (MBA students)

#9. Tufts University 

Tufts University, located in Medford, MA, is home to the LGBT Center, where queer and trans students can find educational materials and access safe sexual and reproductive health options. Some of the groups organized by the LGBT Center include:

  • Ace Space (asexual spectrum)
  • LOQSOCA (Loving Ourselves as Queer Students of Color in Action)
  • Queer Women’s Group
  • T-Time (for trans, non-binary, or gender non-conforming students)

#8. Rutgers University 

Rutgers University distinguishes itself from other institutions through Q-mmunity, a two-day retreat that introduces first-year LGBTQ students to leadership opportunities, academic programs and social events. Rutgers also boasts the Center for Social Justice Education &LGBT Communities, which offers:

  • QSA: Queer Student Alliance
  • XR: Queer Christians and Allies
  • Gender-neutral housing resources
  • SafeR Space Training

#7. Princeton University

Princeton University is home to a thriving LGBTQ community rooted in education and networking. Some of the incredible student-led projects that have come out of this Ivy League university include:

  • Q’nnections (LGBT mentorship program)
  • #Woke101 (6-session diversity workshop)
  • Ally Project
  • LGBTQ Lunch & Lectures

#6. San Diego State University

Though only established in 2014, San Diego State University boasts a robust Pride Center that makes SDSU a hub for LGBTQ support and advocacy. As one of its primary roles, the SDSU Pride Center coordinates such on-campus events as:

  • Annual drag shows
  • LGBTQ movie nights
  • SafeZones Ally Training
  • Trans Book Club

#5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

While best known for its STEM programs, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also deserves recognition for fostering a community of inclusivity and advocacy, including but not limited to:

  • Orientation week at MIT’s Rainbow Lounge
  • Diversity orientation
  • LGBTQ+ Leadership Retreat to Provincetown, MA
  • QLAB: Queer & LGBT Advisory Board
  • Soiree with queer faculty and staff
  • Queer women’s dessert night

#4. Washington University in St. Louis 

Washington University in St. Louis stands out for its leadership and advocacy programs, such as Destination Q, which pays for LGBTQ undergraduate students to partake in a two-day retreat that focuses on leadership skills and identity expression. The Holobaugh Honors program is a series of awards that honors students for the their leadership in LGBTQ advocacy, including:

  • Gloria Anzaldua Advocacy at Intersections Award
  • Audre Lorde Academic Exploration Award
  • Sylvia Rivera & Marsha P. Johnson Activism Award
  • Bayard Rustin Bridge Builder Award

#3. University of California – Los Angeles 

The University of California – Los Angeles is uniquely primed to be an LGBTQ friendly campus given its location in LA, a focal point for queer and trans culture. UCLA is the home of the Williams Institute, a think tank devoted entirely to research on sexual orientation and gender identity policy. The Williams Institute has impacted legal progress in LGBT parenting and adoption, public health, transgender rights and more. Besides the Williams Institute, UCLA makes the LGBTQ community a priority via a variety of other features, including:

  • Weekly events, such as Queer Fandom Fanatics
  • Counseling services and LGBTQ therapy groups
  • Free sexual health supplies and information
  • Transgender legal and health resources 

#2. The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University is renowned for its inclusive facilities and institutional support, earning it a near-perfect score from Campus Pride. Some of OSU’s LGBTQ Student Groups are:

  • LGBT & Allies in Medicine
  • Out in Business
  • Pride OSU
  • LGBT First Year Q*mmunity 

OSU also has LGBTQ counseling groups for those not seeking one-on-one counseling options. Some of these groups include, but are not limited to:

  • Lambda Men’s Group
  • Queer Grad Group
  • True Selves: A Gender Spectrum Group

#1. University of Pennsylvania 

The University of Pennsylvania has historically one of the oldest LGBTQ centers in America and has been a leader in LGBTQ advocacy for the last 35 years. Penn Medicine, the university’s medical system, has also been named a leader in healthcare by the Human Rights Campaign. Some of UPENN’s features include:

  • Gender-neutral bathrooms and showers
  • Gender-neutral housing options
  • Simple and accessible process for students to change their gender identity on university records and documents
  • Paid staff with responsibilities for LGBTQ support services
  • Ally program or Safe Space/Safe Zone
  • Standing advisory committee that handles LGBTQ issues
  • LGBTQ alumni group