AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst has been recognized as one of the top 30 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 earned the recognition.
“It is a tremendous honor for the university to continue to be recognized for the work that the Stonewall Center and other UMass offices and departments have done and continue to do to create LGBTQIA+ supportive policies and practices,” says Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center, an educational resource center.
Top institutions were selected from more than 330 colleges and universities ranked as part of the Campus Pride Index, a national benchmarking tool that self-assesses LGBTQ-friendly policies, institutional support and commitment, academic programs, student life and safety. UMass Amherst earned a perfect five-star rating.
“LGBTQ youth and families want to know what campuses are doing when it comes to inclusive policies, programs and practices—not only for four-year colleges but also two-year colleges. The ‘Best of the Best’ highlights the Top 30 this year for four-year colleges and the Top 5 for two-year and community colleges,” says Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride and creator of the Campus Pride Index. “Campus Pride is proud at the growing number of campuses that are improving their LGBTQ campus climate and wanting to be the ‘Best of the Best’ each year.”
UMass Amherst 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 this year, all students can indicate their pronouns on class rosters and in administrative systems.
In addition, academic departments and administrative offices receive training on university policies and expectations about creating safe restrooms for all people and avoiding the mis-gendering of students.