Gay-Friendly Colleges Ranked

The best (and worst) places for LGBT students to get schooled

As college students get ready to head to school this fall, the Princeton Review has ranked the most and least LGBT-friendly universities in the country. Wheaton College, an evangelical liberal arts college in Illinois, has the honor of placing first as being the worst school, while New York University is ranked the best in the country for LGBT students. Two Philly schools are also in the top 10 best list, including Bryn Mawr College (number 11) and Swarthmore College (number 17). Grove City College – North of Pittsburgh – is the only school from the state to be ranked in the top 5 worst.

Bryn Mawr is one of two Philly-area schools that make the grade (courtesy of Bryn Mawr)

The results are based on more than 120,000 surveys of students throughout the U.S. And not surprisingly some of the most gay-friendly schools also have top academic reputations and are located in major cities in the Northeast, while schools that don’t protect the rights of LGBT students tend to be religious-based (like Notre Dame that scores in the top 20 worst), often excluding sexual orientation and gender identity in any discussion about campus life. The worst schools also don’t provide any resources for LGBT students – no student center, no health services and certainly no social groups.

Wheaton College, for example – a school with less than 3,000 students outside of Chicago – goes so far as to forbid homosexual behavior. In a statement, the school says, “Our goal is to follow God’s truth, including what the Bible says about sexual ethics. While some may interpret this stance as hostility to the LGBTQ community, our aim is to stand respectfully and graciously for biblical truth.”

Swarthmore College on Philly's Main Line is also at the top of the class (courtesy of Swarthmore)

In recent years, however, a pro-gay alumni group popped up at Wheaton that hopes to offer support to students who may feel like outcasts because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. And while the group is not sanctioned by the college in any way, it seems to be having an impact – with thousands of hits (16,000 unique visitors) to its website.

OneWheaton published a statement: “We’ve seen the harm caused by the stance of Wheaton and some churches that the only two options when struggling with sexual orientation and gender identity are to ‘change it’ or lead a life of celibacy. We aim to illuminate other options for living healthy, whole and honest lives, full of love and integrity.” The group also provides links on its website for students in crisis.

The top 5 best:

1. New York University (New York, NY)

2. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)

3. Emerson College (Boston, MA)

4. Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA)

5. Bennington College (Bennington, VT)

The top 5 worst:

1. Wheaton College (Wheaton, Ill.)

2. Grove City College (Grove City, Pa.)

3. Brigham Young University (Provo, UT)

4. Hampden-Sydney College (Hampden-Sydney, Va.)

5. College of the Ozarks (Point Lookout, MO)