AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst has been recognized as one of the top 25 campuses in the country for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students by Campus Pride, a national LGBTQ youth support and advocacy organization.
The listing highlights institutions “leading the way for LGBTQ inclusion in policies, programs and practices across the United States,” according to Campus Pride. UMass is one of only two schools in New England that have earned the recognition.
“To be among the top colleges for seven consecutive years, when a growing number of institutions are improving programs and services to LGBTQ+ students, is a testament to how our center, student affairs and campus life and other UMass departments and offices are always looking for ways to best serve LGBTQ+ communities,” says Genny Beemyn, director of the campus Stonewall Center.
Top institutions were selected from more than 300 colleges and universities ranked as part of the Campus Pride Index, a national benchmarking tool that self-assesses LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices.
“LGBTQ youth and families today want to know what campuses are doing when it comes to inclusive policies, programs and practices. This Best of the Best list highlights the Top 25,” says Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride and creator of the Campus Pride Index. “These are the campuses leading the way for LGBTQ inclusion and who have come out to support LGBTQ students from the first day of classes through graduation day.”
UMass established one of the nation’s first professionally staffed LGBTQ campus centers when it opened the Stonewall Center in 1985, and the school created the first residence hall program for LGBTQ and allied students in 1992.
Since then, the university has worked to make the campus more inclusive through various initiatives, including establishing more than 200 gender-inclusive, single-user restrooms on campus and streamlining a name and gender marker change process in the academic database and registrar system. Beginning in 2017, incoming undergraduate students had the option to indicate their gender identity and sexual orientation on the UMass admissions application, and graduate students will be able to do so next year, so that the university can benchmark its efforts to recruit and retain LGBTQ students.
In addition, academic departments and administrative offices have received training on university policies and expectations about creating safe restrooms for all people and avoiding the misgendering of students.