Five local colleges selected for LGBT advocacy

By Chris Azzopardi

The Advocate selected five Michigan colleges as the 100 best schools for gay students and will feature them in a College Guide for LGBT Students, Triangle Foundation announced last week.

"I think we've always strived to do groundbreaking work," said Gabe Javier, assistant director of LGBT Affairs at the University of Michigan, which ranked as one of Top 20 Best of the Best Campuses for LGBT students.

U-M's LGBT office, one of the first of its kind, was founded in 1971.

"We really stand on the shoulders of giants on this one. We're only empowered to do our work today because of the important work of those before us."

Besides U-M, other honorees included: Central Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, Michigan State University and Eastern Michigan University.

"Michigan should be proud of the way these five colleges are building safe and inclusive communities to create the best possible learning environments for our future leaders," said Greg Varnum, Triangle Foundation's Youth Initiatives coordinator.

Kate Brindle, coordinator of EMU's LGBT Resource Center, said the office would continue to expand their program options.

"We will be more inclusive to all students, including issues related to gender identity and gender expression," Brindle said.

The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students profiles 100 colleges and universities from across the country that offer resources and create a positive living and learning environment for LGBT students. Campus PrideNet, a leading national organization for LGBT and ally student leaders, along with local organizations gathered feedback from LGBT students, faculty and staff regarding personal experiences and opinions about their campus.

"The College Guide is a testament to the inclusive LGBT efforts of individuals, campuses and statewide educational advocacy organizations like the Triangle Foundation," said Shane L. Windmeyer, author of The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students and founder/executive director of Campus PrideNet.

The final list was compiled for the book based on institutional policies, commitment and support, academic life, recruitment and retention efforts, housing, counseling and health services, campus safety and student life.

"To have five colleges and universities among the 100 best LGBT campus says that the state of Michigan deeply cares about the education and safety of all students," Windmeyer said.

A comprehensive online tool with information on hundreds of campuses will be available at http://campusclimateindex.org beginning Aug. 21. For more information about The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, visit http://www.campuspride.net.

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