Huffington Post: College among top-25 most LGBT-friendly schools

 LGBTQ Center Director Jen Manion (standing center) greets students during an event at the center.

LGBTQ Center Director Jen Manion (standing center) greets students during an event at the center.

Campus Pride, in collaboration with the Huffington Post, has named Connecticut College one of the Top 25 LGBT-Friendly Colleges and Universities in the country.

The list – which is alphabetical, not ranked – is based on the Campus Pride Index, a detailed survey of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) policies, academics, student services and diversity training for faculty, staff and students.

Diversity and inclusion are central to a liberal arts education, and all students benefit from a learning environment in which students with different experiences and perspectives can participate freely,” said President Leo I. Higdon, Jr. 

Higdon said the College has taken a number of steps in recent years to create a more supportive environment for all students. For example, in the spring of 2007, the College opened the LGBTQ (the Q is for Questioning) Resource Center to provide educational programming and a central space for students.

Center Director Jen Manion, associate professor of history, said, “We have worked very hard to make Connecticut College a place where LGBTQ students are supported, connected and critically engaged in all areas of campus life, from the classroom to the playing field to the residence halls. We are very honored by this recognition.”

The College’s LGBTQ Center helps students learn to navigate campus resources and make the most of their college experience through a variety of workshops, lectures, and gatherings. It produces a guide to courses with significant content about LGBTQ issues or gender and sexuality and hosts conversations about special issues that LGBTQ students might face while studying abroad or looking for internships and jobs.

In 2010, Connecticut College introduced a gender-neutral housing option to address the specific needs of transgender and gender-non-conforming students. Other recent initiatives include designating or building single-occupancy, gender-neutral bathrooms in all academic and public buildings on campus, and creating a name-change procedure for students, faculty and staff that allows for the use of a preferred name on college documents and in communications.

Michael Murgo ’15, who is gay, said one of his earliest, most significant memories from soon after he came out was walking across campus on a rainy afternoon, hand-in-hand with his boyfriend.

“I found myself shocked how not even a single passer-by gave us so much as a second look or surprised reaction, but instead met us only with warm smiles and friendly hellos,” he said.

Campus Pride describes itself as “the only national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students.”