Penn State earns highest LGBT-friendly campus climate score

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State has once again come out on top in the Campus Pride Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender-Friendly Campus Climate Index.

The University received five out of five stars for overall campus climate for 2012 by Campus Pride, and also was named among the Top 25 LGBT-Friendly Colleges and Universities in the U.S. by Campus Pride and the Huffington Post.

Campus Pride is a national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to improve LGBT environments at colleges and universities. The Index is an ongoing measurement tool administered by Campus Climate and is available to colleges and universities who want to assess and improve their LGBT-friendly policies, programs and practices. Penn State has received a five-star rating since the index premiered in 2008.

"It's a great honor to once again be ranked so highly," said Allison Subasic, director of Penn State's LGBTA Student Resource Center. "One of the reasons we often rank very high is because of the institutional support we receive. Many of the policies and procedures that are in place are because of this support, which a lot of schools are still fighting and working to implement."

According to the Index website (www.campusclimateindex.org), each participating college and university completes a self-assessment of more than 50 questions, then receives a confidential report measuring its efforts, a one- to five-star LGBT-friendly rating and recommendations for improvement.

Feedback breakdown is based on sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and eight LGBT-friendly factors: policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing and residence life, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention efforts.

Penn State's LGBTA Student Resource Center often is used as one of the benchmarking institutions for resource centers in the country, said Subasic.

"We have an overall range of education, advocacy and information that we try to share throughout the University that is very helpful," she added. "This can take the form of educational workshops, library resources, informational websites, scholarships and discussion groups, among other things. We also offer an internship program in the center, work with student groups to organize National Coming Out Day and Pride Week events, and hold leadership retreats for undergraduates."

Susan Rankin, research associate in the Center for the Study of Higher Education and assistant professor of education in the College Student Affairs Program in the College of Education, was part of the team that helped develop the index.

“What this index tells us is that the five-star schools provide services and programs that can assist LGBTQ students to be successful,” she said. "I would encourage high school students seeking opportunities for college to use the index to find a LGBT-friendly campus that is inclusive and welcoming."

Visit www.campusclimateindex.org/details/premium.aspx?ID=73 to learn more about Penn State's performance in the Campus Climate Index.

Last Updated September 06, 2012