When it comes to LGBT inclusiveness, two Chicago schools are at the top of the pack, according to a recently released list by Campus Pride.
The organization, which promotes safety for LGBT students in higher education, named both the University of Illinois Chicago and the University of Chicago in its roll call of the top 25 most LGBT-friendly U.S. colleges and universities.
Karen Warren Coleman, vice president for campus life and student services at the University of Chicago said in a statement to the media that the school is "very proud" of its record with students "of all backgrounds," including those who are LGBT, also saying:
"Our commitment to diversity is central to the university's fundamental work of education and research ... We are deeply committed to fostering a climate of inclusion and collaboration that helps all of our students thrive and pursue their highest aspirations."
Schools were judged on their LGBT policies and programs, such as their anti-discrimination regulations and whether or not the universities have LGBT organizations and courses. Both UIC and U of C were given five out of five stars in their "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" scores and reached five out of five stars overall.
"There are certain schools that are going above and beyond [with LGBT inclusion], and I think it's important to recognize them," said Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and one of the researchers who helped compile the data used to build the top 25 list. Beemyn, who is transgender, prefers the pronoun "ze" instead of "he" or "she."
Ze said the list, which takes into consideration interviews with students, can help people examining potential colleges identify areas where LGBT students are welcomed and supported.
"Students that are going to be applying to college can know about this resource," Beemyn said. "It really helps people in the decision-making process."
The other 23 schoosl on the list were: Cornell University, Emory University, Carleton College, Indiana University, Ithaca College, Oberlin College, University of California Berkeley, UCLA, University of California Riverside, University of California Santa Barbara, Portland State University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, University of Oregon, University of Pennsylvania, University of Utah, Stanford University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Maryland College Park, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Vermont and University of Washington.
SIU Carbondale, U of I in Champaign, Western Illinois University and NIU in DeKalb got four and a half out of five stars overall. Other Chicago-area schools including DePaul University, Northwestern University, Roosevelt University's Chicago campus and Columbia College achieved four out of five stars.
Beemyn said researchers and activists want the list to inspire competition among universities and prompt them to examine their policies.
"I'm hoping that it helps the colleges saying, 'Darnit, we're not on that list. What can we do next year?'"
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