Here are the best LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities in the US

Campus Pride Index

Cal State Long Beach didn’t rank in the top 30 of Campus Pride’s Best of the Best LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges and Universities. To rank in the Top 30, a campus had to score a five out of five. Cal State Long Beach scored 4.5. Photo: Q Voice News file photo.

Campus Pride’s 2021 Best of the Best LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges and Universities list includes campuses in all regions of the United States, from Massachusetts to Washington, from Vermont to Texas; however, no campuses in Southern California made the top 30 list, except San Diego State University.

This year, Campus Pride also highlights community colleges and religious schools that embrace inclusion.

“More than ever, colleges today want to be viewed as LGBTQ-friendly and a welcoming place for all students. LGBTQ students and their safety impacts the recruitment efforts of the entire campus,” Campus Pride executive director Shane Windmeyer said in a press release.

“Upper-level administrators are now understanding how LGBTQ-friendliness is key to academic success of students and the future institutional success of the campus,” he said.

Campus Pride Index is a benchmarking tool that tracks LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs, and practices at colleges and universities.

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Campus Pride is the only national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students. The group develops resources, programs and services (including the Campus Pride Index) to support LGBTQ and ally students on college campuses across the United States

Any college or university may participate in the LGBTQ-Friendly Campus Pride Index. Once registered online, the campus would complete the index tool of more than 50 self-assessment questions that correlate to eight different LGBTQ-friendly factors:

  • LGBTQ Policy Inclusion
  • LGBTQ Support & Institutional Commitment
  • LGBTQ Academic Life
  • LGBTQ Student Life
  • LGBTQ Housing
  • LGBTQ Campus Safety
  • LGBTQ Counseling & Health
  • LGBTQ Recruitment and Retention Efforts. 

Once the survey is completed, the college will receive a confidential report with results and recommendations. Each campus will receive a basic campus profile with limited results for the public to view with the option of adding information like contact details and photos; however, a campus may also opt out of sharing information online.

The Best of the Best list includes 30 four-year institutions that have achieved five out of five stars on the Campus Pride Index.

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Here they are organized by region of the country.


  • University of Maryland
  • Montclair State University, New Jersey
  • Hofstra University, New York
  • Ithaca College, New York
  • Lehigh University, Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of Pennsylvania


  • Kansas State University
  • Southern Illinois University
  • Indiana University
  • Kent State University, Ohio
  • Kenyon College, Ohio
  • University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
  • University of Wisconsin Green Bay
  • University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

New England

  • Tufts University, Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of Vermont


  • Northern Kentucky University
  • University of Kentucky
  • Elon University, North Carolina
  • University of Virginia


  • Texas Tech University
  • University of Texas at Dallas


  • San Diego State University
  • University of Colorado at Boulder
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • Southern Oregon University
  • University of Oregon
  • Washington State University

The listings for community colleges and religious schools include those institutions that have inclusive policies, programs, and practices and scored 3.5 or higher stars in their respective categories.

This list is organized alphabetically by state.

Community Colleges

  • Red Rocks Community College, Colorado
  • Dutchess Community College, New York
  • SUNY Westchester Community College, New York
  • Pellissippi State Community College, Tennessee
  • San Antonio College, Texas
  • Salt Lake Community College, Utah
  • Everett Community College, Washington
  • North Seattle College, Washington

Religious Colleges

  • Loyola Marymount University, California
  • Emory University, Georgia
  • Augsburg University, Minnesota
  • Guilford College, North Carolina
  • Willamette University, Oregon
  • Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania
  • Southern Methodist University, Texas
  • Virginia Wesleyan University
  • Gonzaga University, Washington
  • Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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