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Elon named a top-10 LGBTQ-friendly campus

The new ranking marks Elon's second year of recognition by the Campus Pride organization.

For a second consecutive year, a national advocacy group has named Elon University among the top American colleges and universities for policies, programs and practices friendly to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. 

Elon University has been ranked No. 10 in the 2016 Campus Pride Index, which ranks colleges and universities for policies, programs and practices friendly to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. 

The latest ranking announed Aug. 22 by Campus Pride, one of the nation's largest educational organizations for LGBTQIA college students and campus groups, places Elon within the top 10 for the first time in the seven years the group has been ranking institutions. Elon was within the top 25 last year, and again this year was ranked No. 1 among colleges and universities in the South after earning five out of five stars from Campus Pride. 

"Prospective students and their families today expect colleges to be LGBTQ-friendly," said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Charlotte-based Campus Pride and creator of the Campus Pride Index. "They want to know what LGBTQ programs, services and resources area available on the campus — and which are the 'Best of the Best.'"

Elon's No. 10 ranking is all the more remarkable given that in 2013, the university ranked No. 370 for its efforts to promote inclusion of LGBTQIA students and employees, according to Matthew Antonio Bosch, director of the Gender and LGBTQIA Center at Elon. 

"A huge part of it is the Elon community's response," Bosch said. "You don't get a high ranking on this unless you have a lot of devoted, dedicated and committeed students, faculty and staff working together to make inclusion a serious priority. I could have had all the new ideas in the world, but if it wasn't for the people at Elon wanting to make changes, then the new ideas wouldn't matter."

Bosch noted the following initiatives and program additions at Elon during the past year: 

  • Launching an LGBTQIA mentor program that pairs students with faculty and staff who help them navigate their time at Elon and deal with questions about their identity
  • Changes in Elon's health and wellness and counseling programs, including having all staff in those areas complete LGBTQIA ally training and transgender-specific training
  • Updating health and wellness forms and policies to make them more gender- and LGBTQIA-inclusive
  • Converting several universal restrooms on campus into changing areas to provide an option for transgender students who don't feel comfortable changing in men's or women's locker rooms.

The Campus Pride Index is based in research on policy, program and practice and is conducted for and by LGBTQ experts in the field of higher education. Each campus updates its index annually and uses the Campus Pride benchmarking tool to make improvements for LGBTQ life on campus.

To be in the Top 25 listing, an institution had to score the highest percentages in the LGBTQ-friendly benchmarks. The listing this year includes colleges with student populations from 800 to over 45,000, public and private schools alike.

In addition to Elon University, other schools listed on the Campus Pride top-30 ranking include the following:

Cornell University 
Harvey Mudd College  
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Indiana University, Bloomington 
Ithaca College 
Macalester College
Montclair State University
Portland State University
Princeton University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-New Brunswick 
San Diego State University
Southern Oregon University
The Pennsylvania State University
Tufts University 
University of California Los Angeles
University of California, Davis
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Louisville
University of Maine at Machias
University of Maryland, College Park
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
University of Pennsylvania  
University of Vermont
University of Washington 
University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Washington State University

Owen Covington,
8/19/2016 2:50 PM