Campus Pride

the leading national organization for lgbt college students & groups

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Tips for creating an LGBTQ and Ally student group on your campus

Ready to start an LGBTQ and Ally student organization on campus? Start with these tips

by Isabel Williams, College of Charleston

LGBTQ and Ally student groups can serve a very important function on campus and in the lives of students. The philosophy and purpose of such a group can take many forms, but most serve as a safe space for LGBTQ and Ally students to share their experiences with each other and meet other LGBTQ and Ally identified students in a social environment. This function allows students in varying stages of the coming out or identifying process to support each other through fun, friendship, and understanding.

Keep in mind that sometimes the most outgoing, confident, and open LGBTQ and Ally people may have experienced periods of doubt, fear, shame, anger, or isolation during their journey. When individuals find safe environments and a place in a community, many can overcome these obstacles and come out stronger on the other side.

A student group can be that first point of contact for students during the coming-out process. That being said, managing an LGBTQ and Ally student group does carry the responsibility of managing a group of people who may be in very different places in their lives and have different needs. Therefore, whether your group focuses on support during coming-out processes, functions as a social group, works together as an activist group, or provides educational programming that is relevant to LGBTQ and Ally students, the goals and purposes or your group need to be made clear to potential members and to your administration. Often your group may serve a combination of these functions but they may need to be addressed on a more strategic basis such as rotating the function of weekly meetings during the month.

Start Up:

  • Learn from example: How are leaders of your campus student groups running their organizations? Contact your Student Government, Administration,Campus Activities Board, Student Life Office, find proper procedure for creating a new group. This may require you to collect signatures or some other evidence that students would want and benefit from your group. Many institutions  require student organizations to complete an application and/or training session for new officers. In a addition to a specified number of members it may be required to have a certain number or specific officer positions such as president and treasurer. Another component of many campuses procedure is to have a faculty or staff advisor for your group so think about who on your campus would be best suited to fill this role. Some institutions ask student groups to submit their constitution before they can be formally recognized.
  • Campus relationships are key: Forge relationships with your school’s Multicultural Services, Health Services, Student Affairs, or Student Government Department. Finding advisors and allies can help make the process of establishing a new group much smoother.
  • What’s your mission and vision? Gather students who support your cause and create a mission statement, vision statement and list of core values for your group. This will be the best building blocks for writing your constitution and bylaws.


  • Understand mental heath needs: Work with other departments on your campus like Health Services and Counseling Services to build a partnership where your group can be referred to by professionals in these departments. Protecting the best interests of your members requires understanding about the limits of the group or of individuals ability to deal with serious concerns. For example, while respectfully listening to your peers can be very meaningful for them if you learned that a student may be at risk for harming themselves or others you need to have a plan in place about who else to contact.
  • Information about outside resources could be advertised regularly at meetings so members did not have to come forward with a sensitive issue in order to find the care they need.


  • Self-care is crucial: Don’t stretch yourself too thin. As an officer or organizer in any student group you must practice effective self care in order to be your best for your whole group. Failing your classes or pulling all nighters, will result in a cranky, overworked student leader, who frankly isn’t a model leader at all. Balance is key! Delegate, delegate, delegate to a team of students who are organized, responsible, and care about the good of the group.
  • Remain inclusive: Student organizations are in a world of their own between a group of friends and a formal workplace. In the long run you could be really glad that you have sacrificed exclusive jokes and actions in order to make the group more comfortable. Of course student groups serve the important function of connecting students as friends and possibly romantic partners, however maintaining an atmosphere of inclusion and one that is drama-free (or at least drama-light) does an organization good.  Bullying and cliques can destroy a positive and supportive environment for all members.
  • Have Fun! LGBTQ and Ally Student group meetings and events can be the highlight of someone’s week, month or year! Creating positive prideful memories with your group makes your hard work totally worth it.

    Good Luck! Share your success, photos & memories with Campus Pride!   Tweet at us on Twitter @CampusPride or email us your photos at – who knows we may feature YOU and highlight your campus!

    Isabel Williams is a 2014 Summer Fellow at Campus Pride. She is a rising senior in the Honors College at the College of Charleston studying Political Science. Isabel is the Student Organizer for College of Charleston’s SafeZone program and the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance. Learn more about Isabel 

Filed under lgbtq gay straight alliance queer straight alliance student organizing campus life

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Campus Pride releases 2014 Top 50 List of LGBT-Friendly Colleges & Unviersities

Top 50 listing features the “Best of the Best;” Number of top-rated schools increases to 50, based on growing progress in creating LGBT-friendly campuses


(Friday, August 15, 2014) Campus Pride announced today the annual Campus Pride 2014 Top 50 LGBT-Friendly Colleges & Universities. The listing highlights the positive efforts to improve safety and academic life for LGBT students as well as the top institutions leading the way.

“More than ever colleges today want to be viewed as LGBT-friendly and a welcoming place for all students. LGBT students and their safety impacts the recruitment efforts of the entire campus,” said Windmeyer. “Upper-level administrators are now understanding how LGBT-friendliness is key to future institutional success. This Top 50 list is proof.”

This is the first year Campus Pride has released a list of the fifty “Best of the Best.” In years past, Campus Pride has only featured a “Top 25 List.” The listing is based on the final responses to the Campus Pride Index, a national benchmarking tool which self-assesses LGBT-friendly policies, programs and practices. The tool is free of charge and can be found online at

“For six years in a row, Campus Pride has seen an increase in the number of campuses coming out as LGBT-friendly and making notable improvements to LGBT academic life, so we decided to honor 50 campuses with our national distinction,” said Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride and the creator of the Campus Pride Index. “Today the Campus Pride Index has over 425 campuses featured online and for the first time ever we have 56 campuses who achieved the highest 5 stars overall rating, the largest number to date.”

Unlike the Princeton Review LGBT rankings, the Campus Pride Index is based in research on policy, program and practice and is conducted “for and by” LGBT experts in the field of higher education. Annually campuses update and use the Campus Pride benchmarking tool to improve LGBT life on campus. For the third year in a row, over 80% of participating colleges improved their ratings from the previous year. In addition, the number of campuses located in the South increased this year, as did the number of religiously-affiliated campuses and Minority Serving Institutions.

According to Windmeyer, “there is a lot to be learned” from the Top 50 campuses on this listing. Many of these campuses are specifically addressing recruitment and academic retention efforts for LGBT students as well as concerns for transgender student safety. The Top 50 also geographically mirrors more progressive areas of the country where there has been a history of LGBT support and advocacy.

“While this Top 50 list demonstrates the positive progress to support LGBT students within higher education, we must also commit ourselves to the campuses not on the list — in rural areas, Southern states and other types of campuses like two year colleges, Historically Black Colleges & Universities and religious-affiliated campuses – where pioneering LGBT work to create a safe learning environment is still a real struggle,” Windmeyer said.

According to Campus Pride, a college had to achieve 5 stars overall in order to be in the Top 50 this year as well as have the highest percentages across the eight LGBT-friendly benchmarks for policy, program and practice. The listing this year includes colleges with student populations from 1600 to over 50,000, public and private schools alike.   Each college listed on the Top 50 has a profile page with more details about the campus ratings online. The Top 50 list is in alphabetical order, as follows:

Amherst College
Augsburg College
Brown University
Central Washington University
Connecticut College
Cornell University
Dartmouth College
Emory University
Harvard University
Indiana University
Ithaca College
Macalester College
Northern Arizona University
Oberlin College
Oregon State University
Pomona College
Portland State University
Princeton University
Rutgers University
San Diego State University
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Southern Oregon University
Stanford University
Syracuse University
The Ohio State University
The Pennsylvania State University
Tulane University
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Riverside
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Central Florida
University of Chicago
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 Rhode Island
University of Southern California
University of Vermont
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
Warren Wilson College
Washington State University
Washington University in St. Louis

Please click to learn more about each campus from the Campus Pride Index.

Campus Pride is the leading national educational organization for LGBTQ and ally college students and campus groups building future leaders and safer, more LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. The organization provides resources and services to thousands of college students and nearly 1400 campuses annually. Learn more online at

Filed under Top50 College University Student LGBT LGBTQ Campus Pride Campus Pride Index

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Campus Pride joins National Organizations to co-sign Letter in Support of Michael Brown’s Family

Campus Pride is one of nearly 30 LGBT organizations who have joined together in solidarity to show support for Michael Brown, youth gunned down by police

Campus Pride joins LGBT leaders across the nation to co-sign an open letter of solidarity in response to the tragic killing of Michael Brown, 18-year-old college student who was unarmed and shot to death by police in Ferguson, Missouri on Saturday.

“Youth should have the opportunity to learn and grow,” said Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride. “This young life was taken too early and unjustly. We speak out as a community in solidarity alongside each other to take a stand.”

Read the full letter below and download the full letter here.

August 12, 2014

When communities experience fear, harassment and brutality simply because of who they are or how they look, we are failing as a nation. In light of the recent events in Missouri, it is clearer than ever that there is something profoundly wrong in our country.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community cannot be silent at this moment, because LGBT people come from all races, creeds, faiths and backgrounds, and because all movements of equality are deeply connected. We are all part of the fabric of this nation and the promise of liberty and justice for all is yet to be fulfilled.

The LGBT community stands with the family of Michael Brown, who was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri. We stand with the mothers and fathers of young Black men and women who fear for the safety of their children each time they leave their homes. We call on the national and local media to be responsible and steadfast in their coverage of this story and others like it–racialized killings that have marred this nation since the beginning of its history. We call on policy makers on all levels of American government not to shrink from action, and we are deeply grateful to Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice for their immediate commitment to a thorough investigation.

At this moment, we are inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies … but the silence of our friends.”


AIDS United

Bisexual Resource Center

Campus Pride

Center for Black Equity, Inc.

Courage Campaign

Equality Federation

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)

Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)



GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality

Human Rights Campaign

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

National Minority AIDS Council

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

PFLAG National

Pride at Work, AFL-CIO

Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)


Southerners on New Ground (SONG)

Trans People of Color Coalition

Transgender Law Center

Trevor Project

Campus Pride is the leading national educational organization for LGBTQ and ally college students and campus groups building future leaders and safer, more LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. The organization provides resources and services to thousands of college students and nearly 1400 campuses annually. Learn more online at

Filed under mike brown race solidarity youth ferguson michael brown

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Campus Pride Back to School Resource; Implications of Quantifying Sexual Orientation during the Admissions Process

In 2011 Elmhurst College created big waves in higher education waters by simply adding one question to their university application: “Would you consider yourself a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community?” 

Figure 1. Identifying LGBT Applicants: Elmhurst College and the University of Iowa. Adapted from (a) “Elmhurst College: Application for Admission,” 2012, retrieved from ; and (b) “University of Iowa Will Ask Applicants if They Identify with Gay Community,” by E. Hoover, 2012, Chronicle of Higher Education, 59(17), p. 11.

Figure 1. Identifying LGBT Applicants: Elmhurst College and the University of Iowa. Adapted from (a) “Elmhurst College: Application for Admission,” 2012, retrieved from ; and (b) “University of Iowa Will Ask Applicants if They Identify with Gay Community,” by E. Hoover, 2012, Chronicle of Higher Education, 59(17), p. 11.

At that time Shane Windmeyer, Campus Pride executive director, commended Elmhurst. “The move by Elmhurst administrators to include this question represents a distinct and unique paradigm shift in higher education to actively recognize out LGBT youth populations and to exercise greater responsibility for LGBT student safety,” said Windmeyer. “For the first time, an American college has taken efforts to identify their LGBT students from the very first moment those students have official contact with them. This is definite progress in the right direction — and deserves praise.”

Three years later, there are only a few other institutions, such as University of Iowa and Washington State Community Colleges, that have standard LGBT identity-based practices being used for tracking retention and matriculation of LGBT students at other colleges aside Elmhurst.

F. Lee Casson, Ed.D, alongside Campus Pride, has now published “Implications of Quantifying Sexual Orientation During the Admissions Process” a study with intention to ascertain the various positive and negative implications that surround a demographic for sexual orientation in a college application.

“What we’ve heard from students, especially LGBT students, is that they don’t find out about support services and organizations until they’ve been here for a year or two. [Sending out LGBT information after receiving an application] allows us to [increase our] personal outreach” (Hoover, 2012, para. 8)

As LGBT outreach becomes more common within academic spaces, very few institutions have considered Elmhurst’s approach—that is, to target LGBT students before arriving on campus rather than afterwards.

According to this study universities can collect this demographic data during the admissions process, and with such institutions are able to connect enrollees with various on-campus services and organizations. Thus, any student who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender while filling out an application could subsequently receive LGBT materials from the institution.

“Tracking also allows institutions to determine which demographic groups drop-out, stop- out, and/or transfer; what grades they make; and to what degree they meet regularly with an advisor, select particular majors/minors, apply for graduate programs, and enroll in developmental, honors, or on-line courses. By not quantifying sexual orientation, institutions cannot determine—other than conducting anecdotal observations—if LGBT students are academically (un)successful, cognitively (un)prepared, psychosocially (mal)adjusted, or professionally (ill-)equipped. Institutions also cannot calculate LGBT students’ graduation rates, draw statistical comparisons between these students and their peers, or codify any other systematic LGBT figure over time” (e.g., Baum, 2012; Ceglar, 2012; Windmeyer, Humphrey, & Baker, 2013).

The most important finding in this study centered upon the concept of tracking:

Without an identifying LGBT demographic, an institution cannot measure matriculation, retention, or graduation rates for LGBT students, nor can it assess these students in comparison to their peers.

Campus Pride recognizes the importance allowing options for LGBT students to self identify to their institution. These data collections assist universities in better serving their LGBTQ students and allows for strategies to be developed that should strengthen an institution’s commitment to campus diversity.

Campus Pride recognizes that all students, especially those who are LGBT identifying, should feel welcomed, safe and accepted in their chosen academic environment. Campus Pride commends colleges and universities such as Elmhurst College, the University of Iowa, the University of Pennsylvania and any others who are adopting these practices.

You can see the results and learn more by downloading the full document.

Campus Pride is the leading national educational organization for LGBTQ and ally college students and campus groups building future leaders and safer, more LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. The organization provides resources and services to thousands of college students and nearly 1400 campuses annually. Learn more online at

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