Top ‘LGBT Friendly’ Colleges Offer 'Gender-Free' Bathrooms, ‘Queer Studies’ Minor

By Melanie Arter | August 22, 2013 | 1:17pm EDT

Gender neutral bathroom sign (AP Photo)

( – Campus Pride, a gay rights advocacy group, released its annual list of the “Top 25 LGBT Friendly Colleges and Universities” on Tuesday, which includes schools with gender-neutral bathrooms and a minor in “queer studies.”

The top 25 schools had to achieve five stars in overall, sexual orientation, and gender identity/expression categories in order to be listed in the top 25. Each school also had to be 4.5 stars or above in eight LGBT-friendly factor areas.

The final Top 25 had the highest percentage ratings and reflects colleges with student populations from 2500 to over 25,000, both public and private schools.

The University of Oregon is the only institution in the state to offer Queer Studies as a minor in their Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.

“Help change the world with your newfound critical thinking skills by promoting respect in the workplace. Aid a city as it institutes its new gay-marriage law. Promote diversity in adoption rights. You’ll be able to create and foster a culturally responsive community wherever you go,” the university said its website.

Macalester College, a private undergraduate liberal arts college in St. Paul, Minn., has what they call “all gender bathrooms” on campus.

“For those whose gender expression is not always recognized or validated, entering gendered restrooms can result in humiliation, harassment, or violence. To recognize the importance of the safety and comfort of everyone in our community, Macalester wants to ensure access to single-stall and/or all-gender restrooms on campus,” the college’s website said.

Among the resources available to LGBT students at Princeton University are also gender-free and unisex bathrooms, which are mapped out on the school’s website.

The University of Massachusetts, Amherst has the first LGBTQA floor to be established on a college campus. “The floor includes gender-inclusive rooms for transgender students and an informally gender-inclusive bathroom,” its website said.

The school also offers courses that count toward a certificate in “queer and sexuality studies.”

Southern Oregon University offers tips for “trans allies,” which include: “Don’t ever out a transperson. This is dangerous to their safety & can invalidate their identity.” Also, “Don’t ask transpeople what their ‘real’ name is (i.e., the one they were born with). If you know their birth name, do not divulge it to others.”

Students were also advised: “Instead of saying someone was born a boy (or a girl), try saying they were assigned male at birth (or were female-assigned). These terms recognize the difference between sex & gender, and emphasize the ways in which sex & gender are assigned to individuals at birth, rather than being innate, binary or immutable qualities.”

“Don’t confuse gender with sexual preference. Transpeople, like non-transpeople, are straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, etc. Gender is not tied to sexual preference, & there are a million ways to express desire,” the website added.

“Many more campuses today want to be called LGBT-friendly but only those who participate in the Campus Pride Index know what policies, programs and practices are important to create safer, more LGBT-friendly colleges and universities,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride.

Campus Pride’s “Top 25 LGBT Friendly Colleges and Universities” are listed in alphabetical order:

Carleton College
Case Western Reserve University
Connecticut College
Ithaca College
Macalester College
Oberlin College
Portland State University
Princeton University
Rutgers University
Southern Oregon University
Stanford University
The Ohio State University
University of California, Riverside
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Maryland, College Park
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota – Duluth
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
University of Oregon
University of Pennsylvania
University of Southern California
University of Washington
Washington State University

This year, 53 colleges achieved five stars in the overall category, which is the highest number to date, Campus Pride said.

“The index also grew for the seventh consecutive year to over 380+ colleges and universities, representing both 2 year and 4 institutions,” the group said.

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