How to Find and Foster a Welcoming Campus and Community

LGBTQ+ Student Support and Resources

ByMoneyGeek Team

Updated: May 2, 2023

ByMoneyGeek Team

Updated: May 2, 2023

Advertising & Editorial Disclosure

College is an exciting but stressful time, and the transition can be especially challenging for LGBTQ+ students. For these students, the right college not only offers quality education, but also an open-minded and safe environment; one that allows them to earn a degree as well as learn more about themselves. But what makes a college LGBTQ-friendly? Find out more about what campuses across the nation are doing to foster a sense of community for LGBTQ+ students and allies. In addition, learn how to assess inclusiveness, whether you're studying in the U.S. or abroad.

Creating a Safe Space: Things to Consider When Evaluating Colleges

Earning a college degree is a commitment. You'll likely be at the same college for at least two years, depending on the type of degree you're pursuing, which means it's important to choose a college that allows you to not only learn in the classroom but also to thrive as a young adult. Choosing the right college can be a challenge for any student, but for LGBTQ+ students, there are some unique criteria to consider. Fortunately, more and more colleges are offering resources and services to meet those specific needs. Inspired by Campus Pride's criteria, the following is a list of important things LGBTQ+ students should think about when vetting colleges and assessing LGBTQ inclusiveness.


College Spotlight

Some schools have notably gone above and beyond in their efforts to become LGBTQ+ friendly. The following two colleges are examples of schools that have made extraordinary strides.

Indiana University Bloomington

Inside and outside of the classroom, Indiana University Bloomington has created an environment that is welcoming and proud of its LGBTQ+ community. Indiana University's efforts led it to be just one of the very first colleges to be given a perfect five-star rating by Campus Pride.

  • Academic programs
    The school's gender studies program includes coursework on sexual politics, queer culture and history, sex and gender differences, and gender and the body. Students have the option to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree through the gender studies department.

  • Academic resources
    The school has educational resources to increase awareness of LGBTQ+ issues. For example, LGBT Thought and Culture is an online resource hosted through the library that includes archives, and books and periodicals documenting the social, political and cultural movements of LGBTQ+ people. In addition, Indiana University Press publishes LGBT-related books.

  • Student resources
    Indiana University Bloomington has a vibrant LGBTQ+ community. The GLBT Student Support Services Office hosts activities, groups, and events specifically geared toward LGBTQ students and their allies. For example, the office publishes a newsletter and resource guide, maintains a library, and provides counseling services. Additionally, allies can receive training to learn more about the community and ways they can support their queer peers.

  • Residence life
    Students at Indiana University Bloomington have the option to live among like-minded people in LGBTQ housing. The school also offers gender-inclusive bathrooms around the campus.

Ithaca College

Ithaca College, though much smaller than Indiana University, has also been given a five-star ranking on the Campus Pride index.

  • Social life
    In April, students at Ithaca College can participate in a month-long celebration of the LGBTQ+ community because the school organizes a series of events for LGBT Awareness Month. During this time, the college hosts lectures, workshops, film screenings, and training programs related to issues that impact LGBTQ+ people. But that doesn't mean this isn't a time to also have some fun - during Awareness Month, Ithaca College also hosts the LGBTQA Pride Prom which is open to all students.

  • Student resources
    Although April's events showcase the inclusive nature of Ithaca College, members of the LGBTQ+ community can feel welcome on campus year-round. The school's Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services has a student resource room that includes books, videos, computer stations and periodicals; regular education programs covering a wide range of LGBTQ issues; and brochures and pamphlets that address the needs and concerns of LGBTQ+ students and their families.

  • Student organizations
    Ithaca College has several LGBTQ+ student organizations, including activist group Created Equal, educational and social group PRISM, and Athlete Ally, which was created to engender positive relations between athletes and the LGBTQ community.

  • Health services
    Students can receive counseling from trained professionals who are sensitive to the issues that the community faces, and the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services offers education programs for those who are questioning their sexuality. Transgender students on campus can receive their hormone therapy prescriptions as well as help through the Voice and Communication Modification Program run by the school's speech pathology department.

Common Challenges for LGBTQ+ College Students

LGBTQ+ students often face challenges their heterosexual counterparts don't experience. As a result, it's important for students to find a campus with a strong understanding of the community so they can feel supported if dealing with any of the following common challenges:


LGBTQ+ Students and Studying Abroad

Students who have the opportunity to study abroad can reap many benefits experiencing college life through the lens of another country and culture. Over 300,000 college students study abroad each academic year, and an additional 38,000 took part in noncredit volunteer programs and internships outside the country, according to the Institute of International Education's Open Doors report. For LGBTQ+ students who want to be part of the about 10 percent of college students who study abroad, it's important to be aware of the unique challenges they may encounter in different countries. Some countries will be very open and progressive, while others may be the complete opposite.

Studying abroad also takes considerable financial planning, budgeting and savings. You will need to also review your credit cards, car insurance and auto loans expenses for savings or deferment, and you should consider insurance prior to departing.

This section will cover some key issues to consider when choosing a study abroad destination.

What to Consider When Studying Abroad

From time zone differences to culture to language, students face many new challenges when they study abroad. However, there are some considerations that specifically impact members of the queer community.


City Spotlight

LGBTQ+ students who are considering a place to attend college may want to give more weight to schools in cities that help the community flourish. Below are details on just a few examples of LGBTQ-friendly cities in the U.S.

(Note: Statistics are those most recently available - percentages from 2015 and hate crime numbers from 2013.)

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  • About the LGBTQ+ Community
    Once a quiet working-class neighborhood called Eureka Valley, the Castro District was San Francisco's center for gay activism in the 60s and 70s, and one of the first gay neighborhoods in the U.S. Today, the Castro is now the vibrant epicenter of the queer community. The neighborhood is home to numerous businesses owned by LGBTQ+ individuals, community activism organizations, and a thriving gay nightlife scene.

  • Percentage of residents who identify as LGBTQ: 6.2 percent

  • LGBT-related hate crimes: 0.44 per 100,000 residents

  • Notable pride events and historical landmarks
    The historic Castro Theatre, Harvey Milk Plaza, Pink Triangle Park, Human Right's Campaign Store, Twin Peaks Tavern, the Castro Street Fair, the Pink Party, the International LGBT Film Festival, the Dyke March, SF Pride Parade.

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  • About the LGBTQ+ Community
    New York's Chelsea and Greenwich Village have long been known for their high concentrations of LGBTQ+ residents, LGBTQ-owned and LGBTQ-friendly businesses, and nightlife, though some argue that this is changing. Still, the two neighborhoods represent the city's historic LGBT landscape. Today, a number of other neighborhoods are helping to write the next chapter including Hell's Kitchen, the Theatre District, and parts of northern Manhattan.

  • Percentage of residents who identify as LGBTQ: 4 percent

  • LGBT-related hate crimes: 0.37 per 100,000 residents

  • Notable pride events and landmarks
    Julius, Gay Liberation in Christopher Park, the LGBT Community Center, the Lesbian Herstory Archives, NYC Pride March, PRIDE festival.

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  • About the LGBTQ+ Community
    DC's Logan Circle and Dupont Circle neighborhoods are iconic areas for the city's LGBT community. Lined with gay bars and home to a thriving gay economy, Dupont Circle was where DC hosted the first official Gay Pride celebration. The District of Columbia is also home to several influential organizations dedicated to LGBT advocacy such as the DC Center, GLAA, SAGE, Capital Pride Alliance, and the Human Rights Campaign headquarters.

  • Percentage of residents who identify as LGBTQ: 10 percent

  • LGBT-related hate crimes: 0.77 per 100,000

  • Notable pride events and landmarks
    Lambda Rising (1974 - 2010), the Furies house, Pride Parade, Youth Pride Parade, DC Black Pride, 17th Street High Heel Drag Race.

Q&A with LGBTQ+ Experts


LGBTQ+ Scholarships

C.B. Arrott Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Scholarship
University of California, San Diego
This scholarship from UC San Diego is provided to LGBT students who are active in the community.

Dan Allen Memorial Scholarship
City College of San Francisco
City College of San Francisco provides this scholarship to publicly identified lesbians, gay men or bisexuals at the school. Recipients must be full-time attendees with a 2.5 minimum GPA.

eQuality Scholarships
eQuality Scholarship Collaborative
This award is given to high school students from northern and central California who have demonstrated service to the LGBT community. Other application criteria include financial hardship and academic achievement. The organization also has scholarships for nursing and medical students, as well as for allies of the LGBT community.

Gamma Mu Scholarships Program
Gamma Mu Foundation
Gay men who attend a vocational school, college, technical school or university can receive a scholarship from the Gamma Mu Foundation. Preference is given to those who come from or plan to attend college in a rural or underserved LGBT area, as well as to those who have overcome instances of discrimination. In addition, students must demonstrate leadership in the community and strong academic performance.

LEAGUE Foundation LGBTQ Scholarships
LEAGUE Foundation
The LEAGUE Foundation awards up to eight scholarships each year to LGBTQ high school seniors who plan to attend an accredited vocational school, college or university. Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA and be involved in LGBTQ community activities.

Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship Award
The Association of LGBT Journalists (formerly the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association)
This scholarship is designed for graduate and undergraduate LGBT students who plan to pursue a career in journalism. Applicants must be accepted or enrolled in a journalism degree program.

LGBT Leadership Scholarship
University of Puget Sound
The University of Puget Sound offers this scholarship to LGBT sophomores, juniors and seniors at the school. Applicants must be involved in activities that benefit the community on or off campus.

LIVE OUT LOUD Educational Scholarship
Live Out Loud
Live Out Loud gives three annual scholarships to LGBTQ students in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who are graduating high school. The organization is looking for applicants who have demonstrated leadership, academic success and involvement in community service.

Markowski-Leach Scholarships
Markowski-Leach Scholarship Fund
This scholarship is for LGBTQ students who attend Stanford University, San Francisco State University, UC San Francisco or UC Berkeley. Students must be enrolled full-time in a degree or teaching credential program and have a minimum 2.5 GPA.

Milton Fisher Scholarship for Innovation and Creativity
Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
This scholarship is open to high school upperclassmen and college freshmen who are from the New York Metropolitan area or Connecticut and plan to attend college anywhere in the U.S., or to students who live outside of New York or Connecticut but plan to attend - or are already attending — college in either location. Awards are granted to students who have solved an artistic, technical or scientific problem, students who have found a distinctive solution to a school or community problem, or students who have created a new group serving an important need.

PFLAG National Scholarship Program
LGBTQ+ and ally students are eligible to receive this scholarship from PFLAG. Applicants must be high school seniors entering college the following year. Awards are given to those who have demonstrated an interest in serving the LGBTQ community.

Point Foundation Scholarship
Point Foundation
The Point Foundation awards funding for students who demonstrate dedication to both their academic studies and the queer community. Students must be enrolled in a degree-granting graduate or undergraduate program or be high school seniors who plan to enroll in such a program.

Pride Foundation (Pacific Northwest) Scholarships
Pride Foundation
LGBTQ residents of Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana and Washington can receive this scholarship from the Pride Foundation. Students must be enrolled in a trade school, college or university to qualify.

Queer Foundation Scholarship
Queer Foundation
This is an essay contest that provides scholarships for LGBT high school seniors who plan to study queer theory in college and who are interested in giving back to the LGBTQ community.

Rich Chicotel Memorial Scholarship
Horizons Foundation
LGBT MBA students at Stanford University qualify for this scholarship. Applicants must have financial need and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.25.

Russ Ty Gay and Lesbian Scholarship
University of California, San Diego
LGBT students at the school who have demonstrated financial need and have a 3.5 GPA qualify for this award.

Team DC Student-Athlete Scholarship
Team DC
LGBT high school student-athletes in the Washington, DC metropolitan area can receive this scholarship to attend a two- or four-year college. Applicants must participate in a competitive sport, such as baseball or soccer.

Traub-Dicker Rainbow Scholarship
Stonewall Community Foundation
This scholarship is for women-identified students who either are in high school and plan to attend an accredited university or are already in college (including graduate school).

USC Lambda Scholarships
University of Southern California
USC Lambda offers several scholarships for LGBTQ students at the University of Southern California. Eligibility requirements include a 3.0 minimum GPA, full-time enrollment at the school and completion of community service for the USC Lambda LGBT Alumni Association.

LGBTQ+ and Ally Resources

  • A Hidden Crisis
    The Center for American Progress discusses the violence LGBTQ+ students face on college campuses in this full-length article from 2014.

  • National LGBTQ Task Force
    The National LGBTQ Task Force addresses discrimination against queer college students.

  • Campus Pride
    Campus Pride is a nonprofit organization that works to create a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ students on college campuses. It runs leadership programs and advocacy trainings, publishes news, and links students to events and organizations near them.

  • Human Rights Campaign
    Human Rights Campaign is an organization that both lobbies the federal government about issues that impact the LGBTQ community and educates the public about these challenges.

  • Lambda Legal
    This organization works toward advancing the civil rights of the LGBTQ community as well as those living with HIV. Queer students can learn about their rights, read up on relevant state initiatives and access publications through Lambda Legal's website.

  • Nondiscrimination Laws: State by State Information - Map
    The American Civil Liberties Union provides a color-coded map showing which states have nondiscrimination laws in place for sexual orientation, which have laws in places covering both sexual orientation and gender identity, and which states have no nondiscrimination laws on the books.

  • The Trevor Project
    This crisis intervention organization specializes in helping LGBTQ+ young people. Services include a suicide hotline, text and instant messaging services, and a social media platform.

  • Transgender Law and Policy Institute
    TLPI provides advocacy support for the transgender community. It has expert knowledge of nondiscrimination and hate crime laws, employment policies and healthcare regulations. Through its website, TLPI answers legal questions from transgender people.

Resources for Parents

  • Family Acceptance Project
    The Family Acceptance Project conducts research designed to help strengthen families that have LGBTQ+ children. It then uses the evidence it gathers to create a model by which families — no matter their ethnic, religious or social status — can care for their children.

    This website, unrelated to the Family Acceptance Project, is maintained by parents of a young man who came out as gay. It details their initial struggle as a religious family to deal with this news and accept their son. They provide practical and loving advice to parents who might be in the same situation.

  • Our Daughters and Sons
    Filled with definitions, parent testimonies and FAQs, this guide produced by PFLAG answers questions that parents may have about their LGBTQ+ children.

  • PFlag
    PFlag stands for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. It supports family and friends of the LGBTQ+ community. Services include education programs, events and advocacy networking.

Resources for Educators

College professors play a huge role when it comes to fostering inclusiveness on a college campus. Below is a list of resources specifically for educators covering key topics such as creating inclusive curriculum/lesson plans, how to prevent bullying, and how to create a safe classroom space for both LGBTQ+ students and allies.

  • Advocates for Youth
    Advocates for Youth offers resources, tools, and strategies specifically for youth-serving professionals to help them promote the health and well being of young LGBTQ people.

  • Consortium of Higher Education
    Dedicated to supporting educators who work with LGBTQ+ students, the Consortium of Higher Education helps professionals develop curriculum that promotes improvement, change, and advocacy.

  • Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
    GLSEN offers a variety of resources for educators. Teachers can find guides on creating inclusive lesson plans and building safe classrooms for all students.

  • National Education Association
    NEA provides different tools and resources to help educators address and prevent various forms of bullying.

  • SafeZone
    Safe Zone offers free online resources and training workshops to help teachers - or anyone - make a campus safe for LGBTQ people.

  • The Trevor Project
    This national organization offers training for counselors, educators, administrators, school nurses, and others working directly with LGBTQ youth and adults.

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