US guide lists gay friendly

March 23, 2007

A new book claiming to list the 100 most gay-friendly universities has jumped into the ever-expanding rankings market.

The 389-page Advocate College Guide , published by the national gay and lesbian magazine The Advocate , calculates a "gay-point average", based on things such as whether the schools offer gay studies courses and have formal discrimination protections and services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students.

It reflects a climate that has changed considerably in the past few decades, said Bruce Steele, the magazine's editor.

"What the gay-point average measures is whether colleges and universities are reaching out to their LGBT students, which is something none of them were doing 20 years ago," Mr Steele said.

"Two things have happened," he said. "One is that students feel more comfortable asking these kinds of questions. And two, especially in the US, gay and lesbian students are coming out at an earlier and earlier age."

Mr Steele said unscientific surveys by the magazine suggested that half of gays and lesbians now come out before they are 18. "That means a great deal. Most LGBT college students are open enough with themselves to give thought to the kind of questions I hope they'll find answers to in our guide."

The 100 top universities in the guide include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke, New York, Princeton, Stanford, Michigan and Pennsylvania universities and the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard University did not make the list because it had no policy against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, though it has adopted one since the book went to press.

Nor is there much overlap with the long-established Princeton Review, whose annual university rankings are based on a survey of 115,000 students who rank their own schools on, among many other measures, gay friendliness. The Princeton Review ranks New College of Florida as the nation's most gay-friendly university and all-male Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia as the least gay-friendly.

The Advocate did not name the nation's least gay-friendly universities. Mr Steele said: " The Advocate tends to look on the positive side and look for progress."

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