LGBT college students often experience trials and tribulations that extend farther than the general issues that a college student faces.
Overall, 73 percent of LGBT students reported experiencing sexual harassment, compared with 61 percent of non-LGBT students.
Additionally, 44 percent of LGBT students reported contact sexual harassment, compared with 31 percent of non-LGBT students (A Hidden Crisis).
If those statistics aren't alarming enough, there is an even larger issue at play in most colleges. The report from A Hidden Crisis also states that: "Compared with non-LGBT survivors, LGBT students report feeling less confident if they encounter sexual harassment, as well as more self-conscious, more afraid, and more disappointed with their higher-education experience".
LGBT students should feel just as safe and confident in their learning experience as their heterosexual peers, and have just as much confidence in the system that has been put in place to protect them, and many schools have been taking significant strides to make that a reality.
The Most LGBT-Friendly Colleges of 2015
In 2014, we wrote a blog post about the Top 50 LGBT-Friendly Colleges in America. Since then, many more have been added to the list as awareness of this issue rises.
Because the list has gotten longer, the Campus Pride Index has altered its reporting of the most LGBT-friendly colleges, turning it into a helpful, interactive, searchable map.
Using the rainbow-colored map, the student can pick the state that they might want to go to school, whether that is in their hometown or across the country.
You can also narrow down your search using a drop-down list of criteria including: campus name, region, state, minimum index rating, institution type, and locale.
There is also a version of the map that is specific to LGBT-friendly colleges for those students who are looking specifically for prominent sports programs.
Looking for quality LGBT healthcare on a student's budget? Request an appointment
Campus Resources of LGBT-Friendly Colleges
However, as we learned above, it is not enough for the college to just be supportive of its LGBT students. An equally important part of this equation is that LGBT students feel they have the resources available to them if they were to feel threatened or encounter harassment or violence.
There are numerous places that LGBT students can go to get help if they have been faced with this situation. Many colleges, especially those ranked on the searchable map linked above, have their own programs for students.
However, if the student does not feel comfortable reaching out to those resources, or have reached out and have not found solace, there are others available to them.
Dr. Deb Cohan and Eugene Patron have created the LGBTQ Student Resources & Support option for both educators and students alike to find guidance.
For the educators, there is a three step process to ensure that LGBT students are getting the support they need and have confidence in the programs being offered to them.
There are also eight factors that Cohan and Patron single out as essential to creating a welcoming LGBT-friendly college experience, as well as courses and curriculum to increase offerings for those who want to learn more.
For students, there is a significant list of outside resources that are designed to help LGBT students of all ages if they should ever need assistance or support. Resources have been broken out into two sections, one for all LGBTQ students, and another for LGBTQ teens and older, who are more likely to face sexual violence or harassment.
With these resources, we hope that all students, LGBT or otherwise, can have more confidence that they will get the best, and the safest college experience possible.
Do you know of additional resources for LGBT students or have another college to add to the list of LGBT-friendly colleges? Fill us in on our Facebook page.