The Lesbian Insider’s Guide to 40 LGBT-Friendly College Campuses

As August draws to a close and September beckons on the horizon, many young women of the gay persuasion will be heading off to college — perhaps you are one of those young women. Or perhaps some of you young saplings are beginning your senior years of high school and considering which colleges to apply to, in which case holy shit you are young, what are you doing here. The smartest among you are probably skipping college altogether, but that’s another topic for another day.

Due to overwhelming levels of social anxiety and self-doubt, many young ladies feel a bit uncomfortable for the first few weeks of school and aren’t sure where they fit in or where to find the other queers.

So we thought it’d be cool to pool our collective resources to prepare you for your blossoming sexuality and/or matriculation with the First Ever Autostraddle Lesbian College Guide!

Included you’ll find the inside scoop on 41 different colleges, mostly in the US but some in Canada, from queer ladies who go there right now or have graduated within the last two years.

Unfortunately, not every school in the whole wide world is included, and we’re aware that if your school is not in this post, that you are gonna lose your shit in the comments, so let’s address that right away.

Why is [x] school included and not [x] school?

We set our max number of schools in this post to 40 as anything over that is really unwieldy and could possibly spiral into a Princeton Review-size situation.

We had a list of schools we wanted covered due to their high scores on the Campus Pride Index and/or their sapphic reputations. We had every team member under the age of 24 who went/goes to college do a write-up on their University. We posted the list of schools we still needed coverage for in a post and many of you volunteered to cover them or asked us if we could cover your non-listed school.

We said “yes” to many of you and generally what we looked at was diversity in terms of geography as well as the school size. Many of you volunteered and didn’t follow through. In any event, this is not a perfect science.

We’re sorry that we didn’t have room for everybody and for every school and we invite you to share all your feelings about your school in the comments! Especially Sarah Lawrence. How did we not find one single volunteer from Sarah Lawrence? (Although our editor did attend Sarah Lawrence for a hot minute in 1999.) I feel like there are a lot of lesbians there.

Also sidenote — you may be familiar with Campus— and if you’re not, you should be — every year they rank schools on various elements relevant to the LGBTQ community’s interests and they also just have a lot of resources regarding GLBTQ campus life.

American University

Washington, DC
by Carmen, AS Contributing Editor


Student Population: 6,657 undergraduate, 3,620 graduate
Tuition: $37,554 (plus $9,108 housing)
Acceptance Rate: 41% (2011)

My only insider advice on American University is: wait it out. It’s going to be a crazy ride. It’s going to be worth it. And someone is going to make out with you.

AU is a tried and true Dyke Paradise, complete with American Apparel-clad hipster lesbros, Anthropologie-shrugging femme girls on bikes, and alternative lifestyle haircuts (with a focus on the undercut). Each year at American University gets gayer. In fact, each minute is actually gayer than the last. I know this because I came here with an uncomfortable attraction to dudes who looked like girls, and now my internet network is called “homomafia.” By the time you get here everyone will be reading Autostraddle in the library and having lesbian sex in the quad. Or something like that.

I am ready to prove to you that the best place on Earth to be a lesbian is American University even though it has to lose to Smith College. But let’s just look at this neatly-compiled list of Things Making AU So Gay:

Queers and Allies, the gay club, has a Queer Women’s Advocacy Committee, meaning you can find all the cute girls within the first week of school.

+ Everyone at AU likes everyone. And I mean everyone. By the end of your time here the amount of gay girls in your life will have increased – exponentially. And someone is going to say they “just like people,” at least once.

+ Not one, but two Autostraddle writers have attended AU.

+ Plus, Judge Judy went here.

At AU, all kinds of queer girl experiences are rampant. You might come here a lesbian and leave here a lesbian with a bigger black book. You might come here a straight girl and realize you and your straight girl friend should be dating, and become famous on the internet. You might even start a queer women’s club to find girls, throw parties with said girls, and then remain on the scene with those girls despite no longer attending the school. You might be an outspoken ally – until you are an outspoken homo. You may even find yourself trying to hook up with a girl at a party that a bunch of your friends, since all your friends are gay, too, end up having feelings for.

This is the campus where “give no fucks” went from being a small joke to a school’s mantra. No matter what, you’re going to fit in somewhere. And someone is going to make out with you.



New York, NY
By Lily, AS Writer/Lily’s College Lesbianage 


Student Population: 2,360
Tuition: $38,868 (plus $12,950 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 28%

Barnard College is a strange place. This is not to say that I don’t love it—it may have taken me awhile to get used to but I do love it. It is impossible to explain exactly what Barnard is (it’s a women’s college, but there are men in our classes, we are an independent college, but we are part of Columbia University, we are the “straightest” women’s college yet there is a whole web of lady-loving-drama that happens here).

It is hard to talk about LGBTQ life at Barnard without talking about LGBTQ life at Columbia. Our worlds most certainly collide as we join each other’s clubs, date each other’s women, and take each other’s gender studies courses. Barnard has one official LGBTQ club called Q, which is sometimes packed but more often than not is sparsely attended. The “typical” Barnard College woman is very independent, which I believe is a major contribution to the minimal number of ladies who attend Q. We all have our own stuff going on and we have our own worlds outside of Barnard in the rest of New York City. I think many Barnard girls feel like they don’t have to join a club to meet other ladies. They can meet those women in their classes, their clubs, and outside Barnard/Columbia altogether.

The more time I spend at Barnard the more I realize that everyone is gay. For a while I truly did feel that Barnard was an incredibly straight women’s college—it does contain a rather “feminizing” force—but then I started actually meeting people (I’m slow, socially). I realized that many girls at Barnard are gay, straight and gay friendly, or open to dating/hooking up/doing whatever with any gender. Girls who I had originally assumed were straight have surprised me by introducing me to their girlfriend or talking about their crush on the women’s Rugby team (women’s rugby is gay, it just is, you cannot deny this, it is a fact).

Some Barnard students might not agree with me, but I have found that Barnard is a great place to be an openly gay lady. I’ve become friends with straight women, gay women, in-between women, sorority women, liberal women, conservative women, and non-women, and I have not once had a problem with them because of my sexuality. I’m pretty open about being gay, as in if you meet me once (especially if I’m drunk) you will hear about it. Some girls ask me questions about it, some girls are obviously interested in being “more than friends” with other girls, some girls treat it as a complete non-issue (because it is…), but none of these girls have treated me differently or poorly because of my gayness.

I would love to say that every gay lady at Barnard has had the same high-acceptance rate here but I know that this is probably not true. But I think that going to school in New York City is one of the best decisions any college-bound person who does not feel like they belong in their hometown could make. Moving to New York City in order to attend Barnard College was definitely one of the best things I have ever done.

Brandeis University

Waltham, MA
by Rachel K, AS Senior News Editor


Student Population: 3,341 undergraduate, 2,301 graduate
Tuition: $40,514 (plus $12,732 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 35%

I went to Brandeis from 2006-2010, and am proud to say it was a pretty good place to be a homo. Boston in general is pretty liberal, and Brandeis is so activist-y and social justice-y that for a lot of people having gay people around is a genuine non-issue. That’s not to say that there are never annoying or hard things associated with being gay there, but it tends to be more of the “well-meaning but clueless offensive remark” variety than the “anti-gay bullying or homophobic harassment” stuff.

There are people on campus who are pretty religious, but there’s also a healthy community of queer religious people; one of the coolest people I met there was an awesome out lesbian who I am pretty sure ended up going to rabbinical school.

Gay men are maybe more visible on campus, but I think lesbians and queer girls tended to have a stronger sense of community; I definitely had a queer woman crew that I rolled with, and I think that was a common experience. The gay group on campus is Triskelion, and to be honest I never went to a meeting, and most of my friends weren’t in it. There wasn’t a particular reason, though– I think the overall experience of being queer at Brandeis was just so totally fine that I didn’t feel the need to, whereas in high school I was SO in the GSA. Trisk does throw a baller Halloween party every year though, at which you will definitely get laid if you can put in just a minimum of effort.

There’s also a Queer Resource Center, which is anonymous peer-based counseling and support. A few of my friends worked there, and I highly recommend it if you need to talk.

Other good social options for queer girls: the women’s rugby or women’s ultimate teams. Just saying: gay. The options for dating aren’t overwhelming; it’s a pretty small school, and so the number of queer girls is pretty small also. When I was there, everyone dated everyone else’s ex at least twice. But Wellesley is right there, and BC and BU, Harvard, Simmons, Northeastern, etc. are really nearby. If you have an OKCupid account (which, come on, I know you do) meeting people won’t be hard. Good luck!


Brown University

Providence, RI

Student Population: 6,102 undergraduate, 1,905 graduate
Tuition: $39,928 (plus $11,432 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 9.3%

The LGBT environment at Brown is very safe and friendly. LGBT resources (e.g. LGBTQ Resource Center) are plentiful and LGBT folks are everywhere. The city of Providence can be less welcoming– sometimes people shout homophobic things on the street. Brown itself, though, is very welcoming; I’d even go so far as to say that Brown isn’t just gay-friendly but gay-loving. Our Sex, Power, God party thrown every year by the Queer Alliance is a huge success.

The lesbian population at Brown is smaller compared to the gay male population but the environments and resources for both groups are intertwined. Lesbians seem to have less visibility, perhaps because we are a smaller group– but don’t worry! We are here and the community of queer women at Brown is welcoming and fun. We have a big party in the spring called “Carpe Dykem: Seize the Gay,” and we’re working on having other queer women specific events as well. Krista Burton of Effingdykes is coming in the Fall.

There is an emphasis on hook-up culture at Brown, especially at parties like Sex, Power, God and Carpe Dykem, but there are definitely also those who are in serious relationships (though I think they’re probably in the minority). And then there’s the rugby team.

There’s a Queer Alliance at Brown, which is basically an umbrella organization for many smaller clubs and groups that have more specific goals and purposes, such as Girls Night Out (a queer group that meets weekly to hang out and talk), BiTE (a group where bisexuals talk and eat), the Queer Political Action Group, Athlete Alliance, etc.

For new queers on campus, I’d recommend going to the first big meeting of the Queer Alliance at the beginning of the year. Sign up on their e-mail list and you’ll get out weekly announcements of things going on around campus for queers. Sex, Power, God is a party worth checking out, but I really recommend going to as many things as possible.

Providence has a few gay bars. Aside from those few times people have shouted homophobic things at me from their cars, I’ve experienced Providence as pretty friendly.


Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr, PA

Student Population: 1,306
Tuition: $39,860 (plus $12,890 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 48.6%

The Bryn Mawr College environment is about as safe as it gets for LGBTQ* students. Bryn Mawr prides itself on tolerance for all kinds of communities, and since queer ladies are very visible on campus (some might argue the most visible) no one really thinks twice about the queer presence here. We are one of the Seven Sisters, which means we’re a school of women, for women, by women, and lots of times those women love other women.

Concerning your prospective queer social life: Bryn Mawr is not known for its ragers, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to party. There is always something to do, either on campus or in the vicinity– when you’re a twenty-minute train ride from Philly, you don’t really have an excuse for being bored on a Friday night. Plus, the tri-college consortium supplies every variety of party known to man. You can go to Radnor and hang with the lesbros, or you can take the bus to Haverford for a terribly-themed keg party in a Gummere basement, or you can go to Swarthmore and check out a more diverse scene (but avoid the frat parties– roofies are no joke and the Swat frat scene has a serious issue with date rape and sexual assault). At said parties, you may meet many attractive queers. That’s great, but keep in mind that Bryn Mawr is a smaller campus than it seems, and the queer community is even smaller. My advice? Go into Philly, find queers who have never heard of Bryn Mawr, and date them. Date them hard, and never look back.

Queer community support is great, and the entire college ends up functioning as a support system unto itself. There is one dominant queer club called Rainbow Alliance, which welcomes everyone and is a great place to meet people and lead queer events. The other club is an anonymous Queer Support group, which gives a place for people who may or may not be out to talk about the issues that affect them as a queer-identified woman or man. But the great thing about Bryn Mawr is that you don’t have to join a club to meet ladies. You will meet queers everywhere– in class, in the dining hall, down your hall, walking across the green.

Bryn Mawr is a safe haven, and the surrounding Main Line is similarly safe, probably because they’re just so used to seeing gay ladies by now. Philly is a typical urban area– it depends on what neighborhood you’re in, but for the most part it’s not dangerous to be an out queer in the city.


Carleton College

Northfield, MN

Student Population: 2,009
Tuition: $42,690 (plus $11,238 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: about 30% (2011)

Carleton College, a small liberal arts college plunked in the middle of Minnesota is home to many silly, energetic and smart-but-not-braggy-about-it folks. The icing on the cake is that, Carleton is, in many ways, a big ol’ LGBTQ-friendly bubble.

I rarely feel weird about lesbian PDA on campus. And as an out queer woman on campus I feel included in all major social things (like our Midwinter Ball and Senior Prom) and I’ve brought female dates to all of these functions. At our big school dance parties a “Queer Corner” usually forms, but, at least for queer women, I usually felt like this was just sort of a social thing and not a defense mechanism against the straight Carleton population. However, while I sometimes feel like there are gay girls everywherrrre (go to a women’s hockey game and you will understand), trans students are much much fewer & far between. Also trans issues have less acceptance on campus (although that is changing) and we’ve had trouble with institutional things like gender-neutral bathrooms being universal across campus.

The dating scene at Carleton is as about as good as a queer girl could expect for such a small school. It gets incestuous between queer women on campus, especially within certain circles. But often, there are even more women interested in women than it seems upon first glance– lots of people are gay/queer/bi/etc. without being super vocal about their identities. Also, Carleton has great GSA-type stuff. The Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) does the feminism thing & the gay thing in one office and keeps the queer activities a-flowing: Coming Out Week, Rainbow Retreat, Pride Month, events, etc. And, a lot of non-queer events will end up being pretty queer. Gay girls are all over the place here and a lot of situations that aren’t explicitly queer (outdoor club, for example) also can feel rather . . . well, gay.

Northfield, MN, is no Greenwich Village, but it isn’t intolerant most of the time. The UU church in town has been really active about being pro-gay, and a lot of the townies agree. Also, there are lots of fun queer things to do in Minneapolis, but school is so jam-packed with stuff, you hardly need it. All in all, Carleton is awesome and for a small campus, queer life definitely felt like a lot bigger than I expected.


Concordia University

Montréal, Quebec

Student Population: 34,548 undergraduate, 6,670 graduate
Tuition: $4,917 to $25,238 depending on citizenship
Acceptance Rate: Your guess is as good as ours.

Concordia University is a vastly diverse, Anglo university in the big gay metropolis of Montréal. With a wild week of rainbow Pride in August and the Diver/Cité festival in July, a vibrant gay village full of clubs, bars, diners, high-end restaurants, B&Bs, and then some, the emergence of a new queer bar in the oh-so-gay-friendly Mile-End, recurring events like Meow Mix, Amène Ta Blonde, Faggity Ass Fridays, and the new Gurl Talk, this city is more than a welcoming place to attend school.

Queer Concordia is the university’s LGBTQ+allies student group. The group arranges events and get-togethers during the fall and winter semesters, and members use the facebook page to promote other queer-happenings in Montréal, like the start up of, a gay-friendly rideshare network.

Concordia also houses the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, which offers studies in feminism(s), sexuality, and social justice. The 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy offers many activities as well as volunteer opportunities for the queer community and beyond. In their own words the centre promotes “gender equality and empowerment” working “within a feminist framework that challenges systemic oppressions.” It offers a wealth of support, including a peer-to-peer network and safer sex resources.

The University has many academic programs (and several trans-friendly washrooms!) and it’s easy to get involved… or not. You don’t have to hook up with the cute girl in your Sexual Representation in Cinema class– you’ve got four major universities and a city full of other très très gay women to choose from.


Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

Student Population: 13,931 undergraduate, 6,702 graduate
Tuition: $41,325
Acceptance Rate: 18.4% (2010)

Cornell is a pretty good place to be gay. The school is very supportive, and there are many resources available. The LGBT Resource Center is a good place to start. Here you can find books, helpful staff, and safe sex supplies to your heart’s content. There are also several student-run organizations, led by the umbrella organization Haven. We have a Gay-Straight Alliance and a social and support group specifically for women who love women, LBQ. Most people who choose to be out feel comfortable doing so. The Ithaca community in general is very supportive of the LGBT community. The gay male community is definitely the more dominant side of the queer community, but efforts are being made to be more inclusive of women, and the queer women’s community is stepping up its game as well (we hosted an Ironic Lesbian Hipster Party in the spring; ’twas epic).

Cornellians work hard and play hard, and we’re not known as the hottest Ivy for nothing. There are lots of parties every weekend, though if you want queer-centric parties you do have to look a little harder. The social scene on campus is dominated by the Greek community, but as you make friends you’ll find it’s easier to find non-Greek social events. Gay men drive much of the queer party scene here, but their parties are open to women, and women-focused parties do happen. In addition, Haven sponsors several events throughout the year, including Homocoming in the Fall and Filthy/Gorgeous in the Spring. The Cornell Women’s Rugby Football Club is also pretty queer and holds a lot of parties. If you are female, you have a 95% chance of being asked to join the team. If you don’t get asked, it just means that you haven’t met a rugby player yet. The Greek community has an LGBT “task force” comprised of Intra-Fraternity Council and Pan-Hellenic members and is working to become more inclusive. My queer friends in sororities have all given mixed reviews about what it’s like to be queer and Greek.

If partying isn’t your thing, there are many other awesome queer social opportunities. During the early part of the semester, several queer social events will be held (make sure you get on the Haven listserv at Club Fest to find out about them). In addition, the group for women who love women, LBQ, meets every Tuesday. This is a good place to meet and make friends with other women, and the focus isn’t necessarily always on the fact that you’re all into women. It can be a support group, a place to relax before a prelim (Cornell-speak for midterm), or simply a place to hang out and meet new people.

From a dating perspective, the hook up culture is big (gay or straight). Longer-term dating is more rare, but certainly not unheard of. It simply depends on what you’re looking for.


Duke University

Durham, NC

Student Population: 6,504 undergraduate, 7,744 graduate
Tuition: $40,575 (plus $11,830 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 18.94%

At Duke there have been many women-directed efforts to increase our community’s visibility and size. Last year a university-funded magazine, WOMYN (for queer women and their allies) was launched. The Duke LGBT staff also puts on a monthly dinner + discussion called “Women Loving Women” for any LGBTQ or questioning woman-identified student. About 25-35 women come each month, mostly graduate students.

The Duke LGBT Center is 4th-largest campus LGBT Center in the nation! It provides a safe space for LGBTQ students and their allies, especially for those students who are not able to be out at home but would like an environment on campus where they can be open about their sexuality.The LGBT Center at Duke has become a second-home for a lot of students and the three full-time staff members always have their doors open to meet with students and go over the various resources Duke has to offer LGBTQ-identified students. Check out their website for details on the “Welcome Back Party,” ice cream socials and “Fabulous Friday.” There are events and celebrations thoughout the year. In October there is a campus-wide celebration of National Coming Out Day (free Love=Love shirts anyone?). In November there is the Trans Day of Remembrance. In December there is an even for World AIDS Day. And at the end of the year there is Lavendar Graduation complete with rainbow tassels! We also have an undergraduate-specific LGBTQ organization called “Blue Devils United“. BDU throws a “Lavender Ball” each spring that is usually well-attended and a lot of fun. If you are sporty check out Athletes United.

There have been a lot of advances for the transgender community within the last year. There is a new Gender-Neutral Housing policy. There are unisex bathrooms somewhat consistently in the different regions of campus, and overall the LGBT community at Duke has the support of the University and the student government.

Overall the environment is safe for LGBTs, and depending on the various scenes you’re involved in (religious, fraternity/sorority, etc.), there might be varying levels of social friendliness towards LGBTQ individuals. Nevertheless, I would say that in general it’s a safe and accepting place. The surrounding town of Durham is known as “lesbian ground-zero”, and there is a pretty thriving queer female community in the area, heavily grounded in the folk/DIY music scene. Post Riot-Grrrl band, “The Butchies,” is actually from Durham!


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    • I’ll drink to that. After Northampton, even being in a theoretically similar queer-friendly small town feels like exile. Cornell/IC students, got any secrets you’d share with a townie?

      • Smith is the only place I’ve ever been where strangers didn’t automatically assume I was straight. I think it’s hard to emphasize just HOW queer Smith is–the students, the faculty, and the town. Queer paradise!

        • I’ll toast to the baby Smithies too! Seriously, the years I was there were the happiest of my life. You will learn so much about life and yourself, have so much fun, and meet some of the most amazing women you’ve ever known who will be your friends for life (for real. I’m not just saying that.)

      • I am also ridiculously excited to move in just 7 days from now. Even more so, now that I know that the Resource Center for Gender and Sexuality is in my own house, just two floors down. I won’t even have to go outside in the snow to get there in the middle of winter!

        • I’m pretty sure they’re aiming to paint a giant rainbow thing down there. At least, that’s what I was told last year…

    • Current and past Smithies…
      Smith is my top school right now, but I’m not really sure of my chances of getting in. I had clinical depression the first few years of high school and it put a giant dent in my GPA. I have excellent recommendation letters that explain my situation, but I’m not sure that they will consider it. I’d love to have someone talk to me about the application process.

  1. I think my bank account is glad I went to an in-state public university…

    Also, on St Olaf’s, I think it’s important to point out that the ELCA is a different sort of “evangelical” than what most people think of when they hear that word. My mom goes to an ELCA church and her congregation is super open and affirming (they even have a block party during Pride).

    • That is one thing I can say — my school costs were a lot cheaper than many of my friends. In retrospect, maybe I could’ve gotten a scholarship if I had considered that and tried. But I will be done paying off my student loans in only a few years… I can’t wait. I know some people who will be paying them off for years and years to come. Arguably, if you go to an Ivy League school, you’ll earn more money in your lifetime. But I know my school was very, VERY far from Ivy League and I am working with mostly people who did attend top tier colleges, so…

  2. “All beginnings at this school WILL undoubtedly be awkward, but the people that can break through this unnerving shell will be rewarded with rainbows.”

    Goodness, that is a perfect description of Hampshire College. I love my school so much, but my entire first year was awkward as shit. I’m extremely glad that I stuck it out and found my rainbow reward.

    • Yeah my best friend just graduated from hampshire a year ago and I used to visit all the time. It’s awesome.

  3. Great job to all the contributors! I didn’t go to end of these schools, probably because I didn’t try hard enough in high school. ;)

  4. In ref to Vanderbilt University, I’m a Western Kentucky U. student and Play lets anyone with a college ID in for free, not just Nashville colleges. I even brought a friend from Centre (a good 6 hour car ride away) once and she got in.

    • I’m a Middle Tennessee State University student and I agree. A lot of the times even if you just look like you are in college or know someone that works there they will let you in.

  5. Taylor: You’ll be happy to know that Outspoken (the peer education program she was referring to, for all you non-NYUers) still exists! I just graduated this past spring and was in it. Also, the LGBT Office has been renamed the LGBTQ Student Center.

    Anyone out there considering/already attending NYU should get involved, it was a great experience.

  6. It’s times like this where I wish I majored in something in the liberal arts rather than aeronautics. The GSA at my university (Embry-Riddle in AZ) had four members, and I was the only lesbian (then again, the student population only 12% female overall). The only place I’ve ever been to that was less queer friendly was Texas Southern University. Holy crap was that the single worst year of my life.

    • Spend lots of time hanging out up north in Flagstaff. Grew up in Northern Arizona and Flag is pretty queer-friendly. Try Macy’s Coffeehouse for adorable gal scoping. And good luck, little AZian.

      • I did have a great time the few occasions I drove up to Flagstaff and have actually been to Macy’s! I’d love to go back – couldn’t afford the price tag, so I’m at an extended campus in Houston now. Prescott itself wasn’t that bad, Riddle was just a little misogynistic and not queer friendly. But it’s not like I looked specifically for a school that was the opposite.

        • Aw, you should have come to hang out at Prescott college! For a tiny school, there is a decent queer community. Or, at least, I know all of them…

  7. This is a pretty great list, but maybe next time you guys can cover some smaller publically funded state schools. A lot of the schools you covered are really great schools, but not every young queer lady out there has the money or grades to get into Smith or UPenn. It may take some digging in information, but I’m sure you can definitely find a few smaller queer and wallet friendly schools out there. Mine is definitely has an active and vibrant queer community and could be a contender.

    • In my experience and that of others that I know, attending a private school can actually be cheaper than attending an out-of-state public school. When I applied to schools I found that it would cost me twice as much to go to the state universities I looked at than the liberal arts schools, because I was offered much less money. My brother had a similar experience, as well as a number of friends.

    • hi jill — great suggestion! just to explain — the reason we didn’t do that is because we were looking at places that would be relevant/useful to the largest number of readers — places with a relatively large pool of applicants with students who came from all over the world to go there. though i definitely understand your point and will keep it in mind next time!!

    Also, sorry to generalize to the handful of magnificent athletes that also happened to be hetero, but the MULTI-CHAMPIONSHIP WOMEN’S RUGBY TEAM isn’t a bad place to look for a date, either.

    Vassar is also the home of the original collegiate erotica magazine, Squirm, and I met my first girlfriend-ish-thing at their first meeting freshman year (and then got to take like 200 pictures of her boobies!)

    When I was there, we had L Word viewing parties, which brought together the rugby lesbians and the women’s studies lesbians and the vegan co-op lesbians all under one roof to gawk at the absurdity of IFC. It was tremendously unifying. Do they do that now with Real L Word?

    The best decision I ever made, in my life, was to go to Vassar. Everything that follows is a delightful aftershock of that decision.

    • though i have to stick my nose in here and talk again about how Vassar made me afraid to be gay and i ended up with like weird clandestine terrified things going on with other ladies who were also afraid of all the like Real Lesbians Who Will Judge Us around and like Felt Really Weird About Not Fitting In On Campus Because I Didn’t Show Up There Like Totally Confident About Being Queer And Plus Boys Liked Me And People Thought I Was Pretty For The First Time Ever So It Got Complicated

      i think it was probably AWESOME for people who were like really confident about their sexuality or who have like lower levels of crippling social anxiety — i NEVER wanted to go to any l word screenings or whatever because i felt so judged and the anticipated gossip made me want to puke, which i’m sure is at least 50% my own neuroses but i don’t think it was totally unfounded. so i think for me personally — then again, i am me and like a CRAZY PERSON — it wouldve been easier to ‘figure my shit out’ somewhere bigger with more anonymity and a little less cliquey, you know? i know you also had to deal with a lot of bullshit with people having Weird Feelings About Bisexuals and whatever.

      obvi i totally loved vassar too but i didn’t really like ‘feel like i got to be myself’ until i graduated just because IT WAS SO SMALL and i had like a ‘reputation’ five days after showing up or something without even understanding how that happened and like as soon as i graduated it was way easier to get drunk and take girls home who i was never going to see again and not have to talk about it with my friends, i had to leave there before i could be all ‘okay, yes, cool, this is not as complicated as i thought it was when i was in the mug and knew everyone in the room.’ BUT THIS IS ME AND I AM CRAZY

      • I guess that’s really what it comes down to, Meg. I am me and you are you and we do differently, although not necessarily better or worse than anyone else.

        I guess I want to clarify some things or rise in defense, but that’s a personal conversation we can have. Perhaps the best point you make here is that everyone’s queer college experience is individual and this perhaps establishes that there is no overarching, institution wide experience of what it means to be queer at Vassar (or anywhere.)

  9. The Northwestern one made me happy. Chicago seems like a decent place to be a queer. :)

    Also, the University of Minnesota one made me nostalgic for the Twin Cities, even tho I went to a Catholic school there. DAMN. But everything in that writeup is true. So many hipster bicycling chicks, so little time.

    I was surprised to not see a writeup from any girls from Macalester or Hamline in St. Paul. Then I realized that Mac especially is so gay that they’re probably too busy playing ultimate frisbee and bangin’ chicks to write up something for Autostraddle.

  10. Also- high fives to all of the authors of this article for covering a really diverse selection of schools.

  11. MIT represent, yo. It helps to be situated in Cambridge, where all those dirty hippie liberal communists don’t really give a flying fuck if you’re L, G, B, T, or some previously unknown letter.

    MIT itself has a fairly chill student culture that emphasizes self-reliance and tends to lump together by dorm. Campus visitors will find postcards from the “You Are Welcome Here” LGBT visibility/awareness campaign scattered everywhere. The lgbt@MIT office is small, but staffed with dedicated, educated professionals who are constantly finding ways to support student groups. There usually good resources for anyone who’s questioning, having trouble coming out, transitioning, having relationship issues, etc.

    Night life in the city can be tough for ladies. There are ladies’ nights at some queer bars in Boston, but most of the lesbo-friendly stuff seems to be down in Jamaica Plain, which can be about a 30-40 minute ride by T (subway). Also, everything in Boston shuts down at 2AM. At least Provincetown is just a bus ride away.

  12. As for Johns Hopkins: being someone who attended the queer conference there, and spends a bunch of time there escaping the suburban queer life: the gay scene is male centered, but if you win and flash a rainbow, the ladies will come a running.


    as a younger sister of a Tuftian: DIESEL IS THE SHIT. I have yet to fail at making eyes at the dykey dykes behind the counter and then they put a shot of espresso in my chai and we do lesbian winks and one time i quoted My Drunk Kitchen and they loved it.

    • Really? I can’t seem to find any single queer ladies at JHU, or much of a queer scene in general. Even the gay guys at Peabody all have OkCupids because there is just so little to choose from here (although Peabody’s dating scene is scant in general, even the straight people complain that there’s nobody they want to date).

    • I’m a student at Hopkins. It’s a fairly small queer scene, I suppose, but it’s there. I would say it’s a bit tough to date (pretty much everyone is connected through exes and hookups) but it’s easy to make friends if you join DSAGA (our LGBT group)

  13. I’m a high school senior in Northern California, and I’d been considering Santa Cruz. Thank you for making this decision easier. BANANA SLUGS, HERE I COME.

    • I think you will love it here. :) And really, who would pass up the chance to be a banana slug?! Once in a lifetime opportunity, my friend.

      • I look forward to it. I’ll have to slog through two years of community college before I can get there though. D: They’re gay friendly, right?

          • Depends on which one, I think! My friends at Foothill say it’s awesome and LGBTQ+ friendly, especially in June, and I’ve heard similar things about DeAnza. But IDK about any other schools (I have friends at/have visited others, but I don’t know anything about queer friendliness on them.)

  14. awww… UC Berkeley not on the list? My trans friend says that’s absolutely true, but I think Cal is pretty damn queer for all that… maybe I’m wrong…

      • I just started at Cal, I’ll be glad to do a write-up when I’ve actually experienced some of it.

      • Aww, if I had been aware you were looking for someone, I would have volunteered! I spent my full four years there, lived in the LGBTQ-themed housing, and would be happy to provide more information if anyone wants it.

  15. Hey Hampshire!

    The thing about Hampshire is, everyone there is weird – in the best possible way. You can be any variety of queer and no one will even blink because being queer is the least unusual thing about anyone there. Chances are your neighbor only wears bathrobes, or was up at 3 in the morning making experimental music from the sounds of flowers growing, or has built a tree fort in the woods three miles from campus & is now living in it (true story).

    It’s worth noting that all the bathrooms on campus are gender-neutral, including the dorms. There is always at least one queer-designated dorm hall and housing unit. Also, in my experience there’s not much of a “dating scene” – things seem to stay pretty casual.

    If you are considering or starting at Hampshire, the most important thing to know is that there are no guidelines academically, which sounds awesome but means that you really have to know what you want to do and be -very- self-motivated. I didn’t have clear enough goals and passions and ended up really struggling to stay afloat. But the people who have their shit together do some of the most amazing work I’ve ever seen.

    • Gender neutral bathrooms are such an important aspect of Hampshire! As is co-ed housing (I’m not sure if co is the proper prefix though?) and identity based housing.

      There is also an energy to reform the queer community to reach a larger amount of hamp/5college people- so hop on that ! Similar to the academics, it’s only going to be what you can put into it.

  16. I’d like to throw in Loyola University Chicago, which is just south of Northwestern University. It’s probably one of the most liberal Catholic schools in the country and the LGBT organization is the largest student group (last year there was over 300, and it’s growing!). Almost 2/3 of the student population is female (mainly because girls tend to study nursing and social work) but there are definitely queer girls here. Plus, the president, Father Michael Garanzini, has been very supportive of LGBTQ events, including the drag shows.

  17. KUDOS to whomever wrote about Smith (my alma matter) for not using trans/male-exclusive language! It’s a [mostly] women’s school with a trans population and us trans men are often totally left out of discussion of the “ladies” and “women” of the school. Really appreciated reading something that didn’t make me feel like I was not a Smithie (cause damnit I am!)

      • I think “whomever” is correct, because it’s the object of the prepositional phrase “to whomever.”

        • whoever is actually correct, because it’s the subject in “whoever wrote about Smith”, which is the object of “to (whoever wrote about Smith)”. But it’s super confusing! Cases in English are really difficult since we don’t actually HAVE much of an inflected case system to begin with, and we’re CERTAINLY not taught effectively about it in any sort of grammar lessons.

          GO GO GADGET LINGUISTICS MAJOR from the spectacularly queer University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, where I also minored in GLBT studies =D

    • sebastian, i’ve got a question for you. a couple months ago i (cis) was having a discussion with my (cis) friend and she asked if i thought that faab people who attend a women’s college and transition during their time there should not be allowed to attend anymore once they no longer identify as female. i said they should be allowed to stay, because transitioning can be stressful/difficult enough without being kicked out of your school, and she said she thought they shouldn’t because it would be very affirming of the individual’s true gender. what do you think?

      • i’ve thought about this a lot, and while i’m not trans*, i think it makes sense that trans men (even who have transitioned pre-college) could attend a traditionally all-female school. i think the goal of women’s colleges today is more about empowering people (generally women) who are often given unequal opportunities in a patriarchal society. trans men and women definitely fit this category. i feel like the idea of separating women from men for any other reason would tend to be archaically sexual — both heteronormative and assuming that people who are attracted to each other can’t do well working in the same space. not every trans guy would feel comfortable in a majority women’s college i bet, but some seem to.

    • I wrote about Smith! It seems like at least one other person did too, most of that is what I wrote but a few other things are added in (did you write anything?).

  18. Woot, Bryn Mawr! I spent several wonderful years there, and oh yes it deserves inclusion on this list. A women’s college with a tradition of skinny dipping that dates back to Katherine Hepburn’s years there can’t really be anything but very, very, very lesbionic.

    (We have Dar Williams traditions, too. I know, technically she’s not gay, but let’s face it, “As Cool As I Am” is the gayest straight song ever written. Also Iowa.)

  19. Good to see Purchase getting some love, I have a good number of friends who went there (as well as someone who was going to go there just because it was so gay, but ended up at my alma mater instead).

    For those in New York looking at public school because of its relatively low cost, Stony Brook is a pretty queer option. It’s a huge school, and incredibly diverse to begin with. That, plus the campus is so incredibly apathetic that no one really bats an eye at queer people at all. I was heavily involved with the LGBTA during my time there (was on the e-board, etc…) and we put on a fuck ton of events, including safer sex workshops, concerts, and my personal favorite, an annual student drag show to raise money for the Ali Forney center. We also have a gender identity clause in our non-discrimination policy, a preferred name system for class rosters (no more “dear professor, I’m trans” e-mails!), and a gender neutral housing option.

    Or if you don’t want to be involved in LGBTA stuff, there are a ton of non-political queers that mostly just hang out and party a lot. They’re a lot of fun too.

  20. If you made something similar to this for the UK it would make me so unbelievably happy. I’m applying for uni in autumn and although I really want to move out of London because I’ve lived here all my life, I’m terrified of leaving my liberal queer rainbow filled bubble. It’s really hard to get a feel for what universities are like in terms of LGBT stuff, especially as a genderqueer woman.

    If anyone could email me with advice/experiences it would be greatly, greatly appreciated! [email protected]

  21. Bust Magazine had (has? It has been a while since I read Bust) a feature called “Around the World in 80 Girls,” where readers wrote up a travel guide to their city. Can Autostraddle do something like this? I would love to see what the readers of Autostraddle would highlight about their towns.

  22. I was super bummed not to see University of Oregon on here. :( I hate leaving comments like this, cause you guys did a great job on this list, I’m just moving there in a month and not very excited about it, and seeing it on an AS list would definitely have helped.

          • Aww! I went there but it was like 6? years ago. Eugene is amazing and super queer and trans* friendly. It Probs has changed but it was so queer friendly that there were no real gay bars so we hung out at but a place called Indigo. The LGBT centre in the student union was cool, as was the womens group, and there are a ton of really popular events like the drag show and rocky horror. I also found sports activities like rock climbing were good for meeting people. Saturday market is the best place to go on morning/brunch dates (Just watch out for all the topless middle-aged hippie women) and The Bijou is fun at night.

          • Thanks Laura! I had heard there was only one gay bar in town, which sounded depressing, but I like the idea of everywhere being so queer friendly that it doesn’t even matter. :)

    • I went to R-MWC (back when it existed all of 4 years ago) and I always thought we were more queer that SBC, but in the last few years, I’ve realized that SBC is very queer friendly! Also, the campus is beautiful.

  23. Hey, Brown. Haaaayy. Four years of a warm safe bubble I wouldn’t trade for the world. Took me less than a month on campus to discover I was, in fact, a lezzer.

    • I wish I had figured it out while I was there – Brown was super, super gay. I actually think Sex, Power, God is one of the least gay campus events, though. Maybe it was just like that when I was there, but it was always just a giant orgy for straight hipsters. It was always the party everyone went way overboard at, which always vaguely bugged me, since it was the “gay” party.

      Seriously, how did I not know I was lesbotronic?

        • When I was there, it was, but I can’t say for sure it still goes on now, it’s been a few years since I graduated.

          I loved Brown, though, I would pick it again in a heartbeat.

    • But how do I go to Carpe Dykem? I’m on the Queer Alliance mailing list and either it didn’t happen last year or it’s a secret.

  24. At the risk of being repetitive, I find it absurd that Smith would be on the list of schools when, from what I’ve read, they don’t accept trans women at the school. That’s nice to say they love queer people, but what that really means is FAAB queer people. Remember, the title of this list is LGBT.

      • Do all of the other women’s colleges on this list have explicitly inclusive policies for transwomen?

        • Sorry, I’m not sure. I’ve read Mt. Holyoke has policies similar to Smith but as for the rest…? I only know Smith’s policy because I’ve seen it discussed as a periphery to an issue they had earlier this year about not allowing a trans guy who went to Smith to act as a host for visiting students.

          • I think there’s something to be said, though, about how the smith community actively discusses these issues. At a coed college, it’s pretty easy to ignore the trans* population, whereas at smith (and other (mostly) women’s colleges, I would assume) these issues come straight to the forefront. There was a SURGE of community support after the hosting thing came to light.

            Also, to my knowledge, I don’t believe there is a policy where a transgendered woman would be rejected based on being MAAB. I think more of the issue is that many people who are transgendered have not come out by the time they are 18, an age when most people are applying to college. This is the case for many of the male Smithies I know who are FAAB, at least. A woman who knows in her heart that she is a woman but can’t tell her parents isn’t going to apply to Smith, because that would be outing herself. I might be wrong in this, but it seems that such a ‘no transgendered women rule’ simply hasn’t been tested yet; or, if it has, the person who applied and was rejected didn’t make her discrimination known.

          • Hey-oh, totally didn’t read your link that you posted above! Sorry! I agree that it’s not right for smith to exclude transgendered women (obviously), but now I see that there is a requirement for legal documentation, etc, taht Smith upholds, unfairly. I still believe that Smith’s community and willingness to face these issues argues for its inclusion on this list, though. I would be interested in seeing how other (mostly) women’s colleges have broached the issue, and if they have been more/less accepting than smith.

          • [[EDITED because I read your link, sorry!]]

            I think there’s something to be said, though, about how the smith community actively discusses these issues. At a coed college, it’s pretty easy to ignore the trans* population, whereas at smith (and other (mostly) women’s colleges, I would assume) these issues come straight to the forefront. There was a SURGE of community support after the hosting thing came to light, and a significant amount of community discussion.

            Like at many schools, the administration is slower to accept than the student population. The push to include is much more representative of Smith than the policy.

          • While I agree that Smith has major problems with policies respecting its trans* students, I think that the issue legal gender status of underage/minor transwomen is symptomatic of larger legal and medical issues our society has with transpeople. When it is easier for youth to change their legal gender, it will be easier for women’s colleges to admit female students who were MAAB. As it stands, Smith and other women’s colleges would be up shit creek legally if it were up to individual admissions staffers to decide who counts as “female” enough to attend.

            I love that Smith admits women and graduates people, and I look forward to the day that transwomen other than Adas are welcomed to apply without barriers.

          • I hear what you’re saying about larger social issues but, the fact remains, that trans women are admitted to virtually all coed state schools and, although housing arrangements vary (which this article didn’t discuss but should have) they may attend their schools as women even if they’re not ‘legally’ so. (I know some schools like Vassar, which is not purely women-only but has that history, and know of trans women who’ve gone there.)

            The point of this story is about LGBT friendly schools and with policies which are, on any level exclusionary, I don’t see how those schools can be noted to be ‘especially LGBT friendly.’ Yes, the article mostly focused on lesbian students (which evidently means cissexual lesbian students), but there are young trans women who are already lesbian ID’d and would be thrown against this wall. I also note the issue about a trans man at Smith who was denied to be a school host… what, because the school was embarrassed by him or he just wasn’t typical enough? Sorry, but those seem like very real, practical issues about the T which don’t deserve to be swept under the rug. But I’m curious what Smith alums (or alums of other women only schools) feel about this?

    • I’m a Smith alumna who’s de-lurking to respond to this.

      Your point is well-taken, to a certain extent.

      However, there’s a distinction between how the Smith administration approaches gender when it comes to admissions decisions, and what student life is like for people who actually attend the school. If you can get admitted, Smith is a pretty fantastic place to be queer.

      In terms of student life, it’s such a great place to be queer that I think it would be weird to *not* include it on this list, even though the administration does not know what it’s doing in terms of how to treat trans students.

      I also think it’s a bit unfair to single out Smith. I don’t know of any women’s college whose admissions policy regarding maab students differs from Smith’s. (Though, I suspect it’d be hard to find an actual written policy from any of the women’s colleges. My impression is that they are all pretty much taking the stance, “we don’t want to deal with it,” and so are relying on some variation of, “if the health forms say you’re female, you count as a woman for our purposes.”) So, if we remove Smith from the list, I think we’d need to remove Bryn Mawr, Barnard, Simmons, Scripps, and Wellesley too.

      Smith does seem to be in the news more than some of the other women’s colleges when it comes to trans* issues. (For example: We made it on Bill O’Reilly a couple of years ago when we made the SGA constitution gender neutral. We also had a Smithie on the MTV series TransGeneration.) This leads me to believe that it’s not so much that we’re worse than other schools at knowing how to treat trans students as that our problems are more in the spotlight.

      • I didn’t suggest Smith has a unique problem, I said Smith was the school with that policy I knew about. There might be other schools which do this but I didn’t know about them. I think it’s a legitimate point to bring up if we’re identifying schools which are supposedly “queer friendly.” Queer friendly which doesn’t even perit queer-ID’d trans women is, IMO, not universally queer friendly… it’s queer friendly with an asterisk. Who cares if the students are open-minded if you can’t even attend the school.

    • Hey, I completely hear what you are saying about Smith in regard to trans*women, but the main issue there is that if Smith admits students who are legally “male” they will basically be in a lot of legal trouble in regard to certain types of funding as well as their status as a women’s college (meaning that if Smith admits anyone legally “male” they are basically legally bound to become co-ed). That said, this issue and the issues that have arisen with trans*male students (such as the one you’re referring to) are widely discussed amongst the student population, and there is a current student initiative to revise the school’s policy on trans*women (but it’s very complicated due to the issues with the larger legal system).

  25. The smartest among you are probably skipping college altogether, but that’s another topic for another day.

    Well, that is refreshing to hear. I don’t want to derail the conversation so I’ll just say: +1

  26. How about Sarah Lawrence College? We have one of the highest percentages of lgbtq students in the country… Definitely has been an accepting and open place during my time here.

    • From the article:

      We’re sorry that we didn’t have room for everybody and for every school and we invite you to share all your feelings about your school in the comments! Especially Sarah Lawrence. How did we not find one single volunteer from Sarah Lawrence? (Although our editor did attend Sarah Lawrence for a hot minute in 1999.) I feel like there are a lot of lesbians there.

      • I wondered why no one from Sarah Lawrence sent a submission and then I realized that they’d have to take their fingers out of each others vaginas in order to type, so . . .

    • I went to Sarah Lawrence…I didn’t submit because I am still reeling from my gay experiences at that place and the review would probably be incoherent. If you guys have questions about this school though feel free to get in touch with me!

    • I mean really, how could you not even list it, personal review or not?? SLC is the gayest place ever. And it’s fucking awesome.

  27. Stanford = win!
    The Princeton review thinks we’re the 2nd gay-friendliest campus.
    Also, there was a whole High School Musical about stanford so that like, automatically puts us at the top of the gay list.

  28. Woo IC!!

    “The area is bustling with eccentric people– street magicians, tattooed ivy league geniuses, aggressively talented Frisbee players– so being a gay dude or lady doesn’t phase anyone.” SO SO true.

    Really the biggest downside to Ithaca (the city and school) is the winters.

    • When I think of Ithaca I think of small Greek islands. Then I think of the island of Lesbos. Then I think of how Ithaca (town) is like a small gay island paradise in a sea of upstate NY heterosexuality. (coming from a girl who’s the ONLY lezzer at her own college not far away)

  29. No University of Maryland?! But it was a runner up on the most lesbian schools everrr list you all did once :( How sad :(

    (I know you guys are going to get like 50 million posts about ‘why isn’t my school here?!?! *CRY* But you know..I don’t care…Ima cry if I want to hehe)

    • I think we couldn’t find people to write about it, but if anyone has any info on Maryland’s queer scene I’d also like to know since I’m considering it for grad school!

  30. Queer Tarheels FTW!

    That paragraph about Carrboro sums it up pretty perfectly. My crew and I call the girls whom you are “99% of your time asking yourself if [they are] a hipster or lesbian” LIPSTERS because we have to distinguish them somehow from the confirmed clam jammers…

    Queer acceptance is even part of our town song:

    What Bible Belt?

  31. fuck yeah Concordia. so gay. soooo gay. and our gay club has over 500 people in the facebook group. epic.

  32. Might,SFSU is a great place for Queer People of Color. In college that was one of my saving graces, meeting people I could relate to in terms of what it means to be both queer and latina (or any other “race”).
    There are a few clubs like QPOC who do events like speed dating, social mixers, and other community outreach. I believe there is a GLBT club with the Asian Student Union, but the name escapes me.
    To be honest, many of the clubs on campus have lgbtq members and respect the community.

  33. I am by no means offended, but I am genuinely surprised Agnes Scott is not on this list. It’s like THE lesbian haven of the South, as is the town of Decatur where it resides. As with any small college, there’s always a likelihood of friendcest, but it’s a pretty damn safe space. Not to mention if you just wander off campus to Java Monkey, there’s pretty much always some queer lady. One time a particularly cute one asked for my number, and I remain terminally disappointed that she never called.

    This list is making me crave like cake shows make me want cake…

  34. Ooh, what a great and comprehensive guide! I do wish University of Wisconsin Madison, Penn State, and Michigan State had been on there, but you guys did a wonderful job covering as many school as you did!

    • I’d also like to hear more about Wisconsin, too, it’s on my grad school short-list. Anyone have any insight?

    • BTW HI. KATIE B?? this is emily, courtney’s friend with the pink hair

      we have an apartment now and are fully able to host delicious lesbian movie nights, and also are overage

      • AHHHH Hi!!! :) This is so exciting…are you on my alias? We should make that happen if not.

        Totally awesome on the apartment. :)

        • I think Em was? You’ll have to get our non-Olaf e-mails because of graduated (though I’ve still got mine – doing the art apprenticeship this year, hence in-town apartment). We’d still like to be involved!

          (this is Em’s gf Kat, btw. I am not sure we have met, but hi!)

          • We haven’t officially met, but the first time I unofficially met you and Emily was on an elevator, but you don’t remember because you were making out :P.

            And yeah…pm me with emails and I will totally put you on if you want. We have a few alumnae on the alias already. :)

  35. Reading this has really made me wish that I had realized I liked girls before I decided which school was 100 percent perfect for me. Sometimes it seems like I would have been better off at Michigan, the state school next door, than at my beloved Northwestern.

    • I go to Northwestern too, and I’m tired of wishing all the ladygays would come out from wherever the fuck they’re hiding. Reading this article has pushed me into Actually Doing Something About It mode, so any Autostraddlers who go to NU and want some semblance of a queer girl community, let me know. We can get together and change shit up.

      • Get in on the Chicagostraddler action too. :)

        (really I just want more Chicagostraddlers so I have futons to crash on when I visit)

      • Yess purleasee let’s do this! Let’s change shit up and make a community! I say first week of classes before stuff gets crazy. Let’s message

      • I’m 100% biased about Northwestern because I was the co-president of Rainbow Alliance while I was there. I think there used to be more of a scene but it was just starting to phase out during my tenure. But the reason that it phased out is because people stopped Doing Stuff About It. I don’t know if there will ever be a vibrant and robus “dating” scene, due to size, but as long as you jump into Chicago, you will find ladies.

        It is very worth it to resurrect Delta Psi Kappa Epsilon, is what I’m trying to say. You should, cause it makes me :-( to hear about sad lesbians at my alma mater.

  36. I love that the hardest decision I made in the college acceptance process was whether to go to Wellesley or Smith… well. SMITHIES FTW.

  37. This makes me sad I didn’t go to an awesome (though expensive) school.

    It also makes me wish I could be Canadian.

  38. a friend of mine goes to tufts — they said that last coming out day there was a lot of homophobic chalking everywhere and folks tried to keep the coming out day events quiet. anecdotal but just another case of there being more to campuses than one review can say!

  39. SKIDMORE COLLEGE?! ANYONE?! i just graduated from there and would be happy to tell you all about it!!

  40. As one of the young saplings who will be applying to a handful of these schools in the upcoming months, THANK YOU. This is supremely useful/relevant to my interests right now.

  41. Where are the art schools at?? I was pretty surprised when I didn’t see MassArt make the list. Not only is it an extremely GLBT positive school, it’s an extremely everybody positive school. No judgement zone (I can only speak of my experience, but it was really, really great.) The school also does great things for the community as well.
    ALSO, it’s within walking distance from aforementioned (by Anna from MIT) from lesbo-friendly Jamaica Plain.

    Just had to represent.

    • Oh, and you can take classes at Simmons (which was listed) while enrolled in Massart. If you’re a Mass State Resident, that means you pay in state tuition (i.e. half the prices of Simmons) and can take classes there. I did. It was awesome.
      I’m also great at talking up Boston if anyone needs to be persuaded to move here/needs a tour.

      • I’m thinking about applying to BU and New England Conservatory for grad school – any info about them?

        • I don’t have any LGBT info, since I didn’t go there, but BU is huge. They own a large portion of the city. I recently found out they’re gym has a lazy river! But aside from that, I’ve heard good things about BU’s programs, and because it’s so large, (and I’m assuming you’d be studying something niche-like?) there’s probably a place for everyone. I prefer the location of NE Conservatory better, but I’m biased since my school was up the street. One benefit over BU is that NE Conservatory is part of the ProArts Consortium, so you can take classes at one of 10(?) other “art” schools in the city, i.e. Emerson, MassArt, etc.
          Hope this helps!

  42. Chapel Hill says it has gay nights off campus, but don’t go to the one at Vespa. The owner is a creep and frequently tries to molest/harass lady patrons.

  43. Does anybody know anything about The New School? I heard it was littered with cigarette-smoking holier-than-thou hipsters; is this accurate?

    • Most of the private schools on the list meet 100% of demonstrated financial need and are amongst the top 64 schools in the country for financial aid. I can only speak directly about Olaf, but the loan portion of the aid tops out at 6500. I also don’t even have a loan. The sticker price is scary at first, but my state school wasn’t much cheaper than what I was offered at Olaf, Rhodes, and Dartmouth. :)

      • Sadly, demonstrated financial need =/= actual financial need. That bit me in the ass, and I’m sure the same has happened to others that had to leave their pricey dream school.

        • Yes, sadly, I know that story as well. I’ve been blessed and I recognize that. I was merely elaborating on something with which I’m familiar, given my experience working for my own college. I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you, I honestly wish it did.

        • I’ve had issues with that as well – luckily, I was able to take a lot out in loans, and I won’t have to pay the loans back until I’m no longer a full-time student. And my particular career path basically requires that I get a doctorate*, so I’m hoping that won’t be for a very long time, until I’m much more financially-stable.

          *Which I know a lot of people later change their mind about, but I don’t know – I’m a nerd and I love studying and research. I think it’s for me. Also, pretty much every “regular” job I’ve had, far from pulling me away from academia, just makes me more convinced that it’s the place for me. (Not counting writing for AS here, of course, since I do this for funzies)

          • And it is bad enough that I’ve determined that I probably can’t return to my current college for graduate school. For one, I really need an assistantship and my college is pretty stingy about those, besides just being stingy about financial aid in general.

          • Sidenote: Peabody has separate offices for development and financial aid, so what I’m saying here is specific to Peabody, not necessarily true for people applying to the main Johns Hopkins campus.

  44. Great list. I graduated from Temple and I have to agree that there doesn’t seem to be a strong queer/LGBT student organization. Sad because Temple does have large amount of queer students.

        • OH HAY okay yeah I don’t remember but there were a lot of strangers there and I vaguely knew like, two people at that party…

          • come hang out with the gays more this semester! we’re a real fun bunch. i’m actually abroad this semester but there are still plenty of other cool people! and fun parties.

  45. Don’t blame the young kids for reading this website, we need a virtual queer community too :) I’m a rising senior so this was very helpful! Has anyone been to the College of William and Mary by any chance? That’s my top choice and my high school has absolutely NO lesbians (literally, it’s just me) so I’m hoping to go to a college that does.

  46. re: Vandy

    Eh…there was a big blow-up last semester bc a Christian frat on campus was revealed to have pressured guys to leave the frat or repent gayness. Nothing really came of it. A few years ago a gay guy was jumped at night. The gay bookstore closed last semester.

  47. I’m shocked to see Stanford on the list but not UC Berkeley. Not only is the campus incredibly tolerant/full up with 10000000 lgbtq clubs/greek life/co-op life but we’re a 30 minute BART ride into SF and all the craziness of the castro/all of SF in general. That being said, I’m sure stanford is lovely.

  48. I’m a current grad student at U of M but I honestly liked my undergrad, Georgetown (which appears to not merit a mention here), much much better.

    Ann Arbor and U of M are kinda… weird.

    • A lot of the schools that aren’t on here weren’t omitted because they weren’t queer-friendly enough, but because nobody volunteered to write about them.

  49. Aw, there’s a lot more to Swarthmore than terrible frat parties. I’ve had a really gay queer experience at Swat, with an awesome gay community and weirdly good luck with girls.

    • hahaha I meant to write “great queer experience” and instead wrote “gay queer experience”, which is true but not what I meant to say.

  50. Also, because I inexplicably forgot to mention this in my JHU write-up:


    Seriously, come study music at Peabody, we really need queer ladies over here!

  51. what no penn state? i kinda wish i owned up to my bisexuality while at penn state (the main campus), because i could’ve/should’ve gone to their lgbt bar. i do know that the lgbt students had a bit of a presence on campus and altho i never got involved the rainbow flag that covered up a whole window in one of the buildings always made me smile.

  52. For the schools that were on the list, but no one volunteered to write about them: I think it would be nice to at least mention the school on your list and indicate how the made the list. Were they recognized as LGBT friendly via other sources? Were they taken from a list from another website or publication? Then write a note that no further information or first hand experience is currently available.

    This way you recognize the school for those students who are doing their research.

    • -feminist gender and sexuality studies major at wes, lesbian, and friend of many straight/gay/bi/questioning/trans/queer people–> it’s a really open community, so open, that you don’t have to only hang out with other gays!

      our orientation includes an introduction to and how to use gender neutral pronouns! i had classes where i could only use gender neutral pronouns.

  53. Who wrote the Simmons bit?
    I hate Simmons. The amount of “I’m not a feminist” BS I hear in my classes has made me completely withdraw from any “community” the college has pretended to offer me. The Women’s Center isn’t as bully-mean as it once was but I’ve never really felt welcome.
    I’m only at Simmons because I’m paid to go there.
    Maybe it’s my program, the classes I’ve taken or my lack of Boston-love, but I can’t wait to graduate.

  54. Could we maybe make a queer-college discussion group? So that us young saplings can talk to the other people who’ve gone to college already/can tell us stuff?

    • This. I totally second that. I could talk about college forever…I think all that Admissions work is finally getting to me.

  55. My anxieties are more focused on the fact that even if I apply and get accepted, can I go? It’s not even mostly a matter of financial feasibility. There are things I should take care of at home and responsibilities I feel obligated to hold.

    And that dream school. Should I even apply? My chances are so low. :C

    • Dream School – if you can afford to apply, do it. you’ll never know if you would have made it or not, and if you get in, you’ll have more options.

      Responsibilities – a compromise could be to commute to school. Take classes at a community college (make sure they’ll be accepted at the school you’d rather be going to.) The nice thing about college is that it’s divided into semesters (some schools divide differently), so you can try community college on for a semester, see how things go at home for those few months, and apply to a more favorable school going into the spring or summer term.

    • When I was getting ready to apply to college (and every subsequent year I go back) I felt torn between my responsibilities at home (helping care for my disabled mother, among others). However, I realized that I can’t live my entire life for my family and that I had an obligation to myself to attend college and look towards my own goals.

      I don’t know your situation at home and your responsibilities, but I do know that you have that same obligation to yourself. While I agree with Lindsay that community college and commuting are good options, you should still apply for that dream school and decide what to do when your acceptance letters come around.

      If you’d like to talk about applications or need someone to edit your essays feel free to message me (I’m a 4th year a UC Berkeley and I’ve edited tons of college application essays for friends/siblings)

  56. i already have graduated college but looking at the tuition costs gave me so.much.anxiety.

  57. For those of you who are interested in a tight-knit, rural, alternative college community, I just want to give a shout out to my college – Marlboro College in Vermont. We get overlooked a lot because we only have 300 students but you’d have a hard time finding a more welcoming community anywhere. The Pride group hosts two of the most popular dance parties every year – at what other school does the majority of the student population, straight and gay alike, show up for Pride events in drag? A large portion of the administration are openly gay, many living on campus with their partners; hostility is unheard of; most of the girls don’t shave; weirdness of all kinds is embraced; dorms are co-ed with gender neutral bathrooms; you can room with an opposite-sex friend if you like; and the school sets aside housing for gender-variant students when necessary. Unlike a lot of similar artsy/alternative liberal arts colleges that claim to embrace their gay community without actually supporting us (*coughBenningtoncough* (I used to go there)), Marlboro actually listens to the concerns of queer students.

    So basically, if you wanna be queer at college but prefer apple cider making parties to frat parties, Marlboro is definitely worth a look.

  58. I was a bit upset/surprised to see that my school (University of Toronto) wasn’t mentioned, but I do appreciate the Canuck love with McGill and Concordia! Honestly, Canada is a great place to be queer.

    This list just made me realize again how much I would’ve loved to go to an American liberal arts college…Smith sounds like my dream school.

  59. berklee college of music?
    it’s pretty insanely queer, and in the back bay of boston. i had a great time there, and met a surprisingly large number of queer students and faculty. the school is for primarily jazz music. and jazz musicians are usually pretty chill.

  60. Princeton Review named NEW COLLEGE OF FLORIDA one of the top 10 LGBTQ friendly colleges, yo. I attend. You should look into that shiz. I know some cute ladies that would give you the scoop.

    • My friend Aly went there actually! Granted, her roommates were abusive so she left the school, but she said (as a lesbian, herself) it was very accepting. :)

  61. Also in Brown’s favor (besides the QA, lack of requirements, and Kabob n’ Curry) : Kate Bornstein is an alum! And the library has a collection of vintage gay and lesbian pulp novels, along with the more famous book made out of human skin.

  62. GUYS. I know this wouldn’t come to anyone right away but UVA is a an amazing school for LGBTQs to apply to. For its size and…it’s location, it’s got a really healthy gay/transgendered population with a LOT of events/activities/resources/support. It’s publicly funded and there’s a lot of talk of preppiness but honestly everywhere you look there’s queer events and those little stickers that certify a neutral lgbt safe environment. Nothing on smith though.

  63. Does anyone have any insight into how LGBT-friendly Harvard is? I just started there last week and don’t really have much of an idea myself. It seems like there are a fair number of organizations and events, though. And, I mean, it is in Cambridge. IDK, anyone have any thoughts?

    • I know this is from forever ago, but I would love to know how you’ve found Harvard for queer women (I’m about to start there in the fall).
      I’ve heard quite a bit about how great it is for queer men, but not much for women.

  64. American University fuck yeah! Started school there mistakenly believing I was straight and graduated with a profound love of lady-sex that endures to this day. Much more vibrant queer scene than my girlfriend experienced at University of Vermont.

  65. “There’s a very cute gay bookstore with gifts and trinkets downtown.”

    Can anyone tell me the name of this bookstore in downtown Nashville? I can only think of OutLoud, and everything coming up says it closed last year.

  66. I’m a freshman at Pomona, and so far I adore it. I got asked my preferred gender pronouns for the first time ever the other day, and I just filled out my QQAMP mentee application. I’ll probably apply for a job at the QRC or the Women’s Union (which welcomes all genders) pretty soon.

    If you’re queer and at Pomona or any of the 5C colleges, please say hi! I would love to meet more people, and I have no idea how to get into the dating scene at all.

  67. Where is Mills College??? The women’s college darling in the SF Bay area was omitted from your list. I know, I know. Not comprehensive..but really, how did you miss it?

    For the record, Mills is hella hella gay. Millsbians are plentiful (like a LUG, only Mills specific). We have an annual Fetish Ball where students get flogged on stage by professional and notso professional topless doms.

    First conversation I had freshwoman year,

    “Are you gay?”
    “good. you’re lucky to be here.”

    we also recently added a queer studies minor.

  68. Don’t go to Tulane if you are in any minority group. There are like a total of 15 people who identify as racial minorities, I’ve been called “girl” by a professor who referred to my male classmates by their names (or at least “young man”) and date rapes are way too common and frequently covered up.

    New Orleans is an amazing city. And I have met some wonderful people (peers, professors) at Tulane. But the negatives far outweigh the positives and the amount of loans I have make my head spin.

    • I gotta strongly disagree. Yes, there is a lack of racial diversity- but instead of avoiding tulane because of that, I think minority students should consider the large amounts of scholarships and opportunity available for them. As for loans I had some- but Tulane offered me more scholarship money than any other school, and I did work study to help with costs. I’ve never experienced sexism from Professors so I’m sorry that happened. As for date rapes- well yes. They do happen. And they are covered up. Like they are at every college. It’s a massive problem but Tulane is the rule, not the exception.

      New Orleans rocks, Tulane has great academics but isn’t a struggle- you can get away with slacking (meeeee) or not. Love it.

      Still even if we have different opinions glad to see another tulane person on here :)

      • Tulane does have initiates to recruit minorities but it just isn’t a very attractive school. Not everyone wants to be Ruby Bridges.

        • i totally agree, i wouldn’t recommend tulane on anything other than maybe academics. and the initiatives are a joke anyway, tulane isn’t genuinely interested in any minority groups i’m a junior at tulane, i’m african american and gay and honestly i just get frustrated by my school -____-

  69. There’s definitely a big difference between a queer-friendly girl scene and a butch-friendly one. I’m familiar with a couple of these campuses, and one of them (Stanford) is a wonderful place if you look like a “conventional” woman, but if you wanna be a gender-nonconforming woman, you’re gonna get stared at. (There’s a reason Rachel Maddow moved off campus after coming out.)

    I’d love to see a more nuanced description of some of these schools, and I’d love to know which places are especially friendly for women who don’t conform to traditional gender norms. Thanks for a great story.


  70. i can’t believe cal state long beach is not on this list. it’s super gay, crazy big, cheap in comparison to a lot of other schools, and has a huge gay community surrounding it. i guess it’s a well known thing in california but not any where else just how queer it is here. even a good percentage of staff/faculty are queer.

  71. Hollins University! Can’t believe it’s not on this list (except that it’s tiny and women-only, which means most people have never heard of it).

    I have mixed feelings about it now that I’m battling student loans, of course, but it really is an experience and I wouldn’t trade it. I made some great friends there and I think having that little oasis of liberal arts education in the middle of gorgeous central Virginia is pretty awesome.

    When I was there we had Andrea Gibson and Chris Pureka come for guest appearances within one semester (same year, or maybe the previous one, I think we also got Kate Bornstein speaking on gender non-binarism and self-care and hir life, and Anthony Rapp promoting his book and impromptu singing “Seasons of Love” and “Losing My Religion” at us – our GLBTQ alliance and FMLA get a LOT of support) and a drag king show that was regularly one of the most attended events on campus.

  72. Hollins University. All women’s university located in Virginia. Around 800 undergrads. Some of the best MFA dance and creative writing programs in the nation. I loved it! Going to Hollins made me who I am. Almost half of the student body is gay or bi and every is inclusive. It’s not all hippy dykes though, we also have a fair amount of equestrians and pearl girls. It’s a wonderful mix of personalities, cultures, and background. Also has an awesome alum network.

        • I graduated in ’09! I’m sure I must have seen you around then! I was a bit of a hermit my last couple years (dealing with some underestimated anxiety/depression, money issues etc) but there’s only so much you can keep to yourself at an 800-person school, haha.

          PS sorry about the name change – I forgot to log in last time.

  73. I have to respectfully disagree with the characterization of the University of Alabama as an “LGBT-Friendly Campus.” I’ve been a grad student here for the past three years and a half years and the best I can say for the place is that if you’re a cis-gender femme, you probably won’t be physically assaulted in broad daylight. We have no domestic partner benefits, people drop the F and D bombs without blinking an eye, a good third of the undergraduate population are conservative Evangelicals, kids who appear genderqueer are constantly being verbally and physically assaulted, and you definitely can’t hold hands with (let alone cuddle or kiss) someone who appears to be the same gender as you. Yes, there’s a non-discrimination policy on the books and a GSA, but homophobia and racism are pervasive. I love the program I’m in, but I feel like I couldn’t in good conscience recommend Tuscaloosa life to fellow queer folk. A few queer people I know live in Birmingham and make the 45 minute commute two or three times a week—they seem to have a much easier time of it.

    • hey, just wanted to update, we got DP Benefits in fall of 2011. Roll Tide! Definitely not a perfect place, but progress is being made much quicker than most realize.

      And I definitely hold hands, cuddle, and kiss my girlfriend all the time, and thankfully we haven’t been on the receiving end of any physical abuse, or really any verbal for that matter. We’re also interracial so that confuses people here, maybe they don’t even know what to say. :-P
      I’m 100% in agreement though that even though it hasn’t happened to us, it is something that happens to much here, or at least the fear that it will happen does not create for an inclusive atmosphere at all times. But our Safe Zone Program is FANTASTIC. Rainbow triangles are on offices most everywhere. I consider Alabama to be friendly because since the queers here do feel like there is so much work to be done to ensure our safety, we’re working extra hard to secure it. And our allies have to be that much more vocal about being our allies. The support that you can find here is passionate.

  74. Man, I wish I had really considered a school full of lesbians!! I decided RIT over UVM for the photography program here, but UVM has hot lesbians… There’s like 10 here that I know of… I’m not involved on the sports teams. It’s sooo hard to find a girlfriend because every other guy I’m friends with is gay. I swear I’m like the only girl or two in every party I go to… too bad I don’t like guys haha.

    What schools are good lesbian schools on the east coast for grad schools??

    • Yes i just started at RIT too because it is good for my major and there are very few gay girls that i know of. I wish i had considered that before choosing a college that is mostly full of guys

  75. Hey everyone. Super late to the party here, but I am a senior in Alaska who is going to be applying to a lot of these schools in about a month. The schools I am seriously considering are Smith, Mount Holyoke and Bryn Mawr. I would really appreciate talking to some current students or alumni! If you would be willing to help a baby gay out, please just contact me on my twitter, @hypedyke. I would give out my email, but I don’t want to be super spammed..


    • Hi Rowan!

      I’m a senior at Mount Holyoke and am very active in the queer scene on campus (and it really is a welcoming LGBTQ+ scene, not just gay and lesbian). I’d love to talk, if you’re still interested. I don’t have a twitter, but here’s my tumblr: Send me a question there with your email and whatever you’d like to know about and I’ll do my best to answer.

      Btw Autostraddle, I totally would’ve written about Mount Holyoke! I’m sorry I didn’t see your call for submissions.

  76. I am shocked- shocked!- that Agnes Scott College didn’t make this list.
    Reasons why it should have:
    1. All women’s school with a progressive trans policy
    2. Two queer groups at school: Ascend and Affinity (which address the needs of queer people of color)
    3. Numerous workshops about how to have sex queer sex, coming out while in colleges
    4. Dental dams are available at the health center

  77. Reading this article about a year after its posted, I doubt I will get responses.. but WHOEVER wrote that piece on university of michigan, I would love to have a conversation with you. I am an undergrad at university of michigan and its great to know there is a lesbian social scene, but honestly I cannot say that i’ve witnessed it for myself. Bare in mind I was in a long distance relationship for two years which gave me little motivation to go out and find it until now, but seriously, I can’t even say I’ve met more than 2 or 3 bi/lesbian girls here. Maybe I am in the wrong crowd at a big school, but I’d love to be clued in!

    • Whoops. This just came up again on the home page and I’m totally the one who wrote the UM review. Talk about late to the party. I hope you ended up finding your people!

  78. Hey, I know this is article came out a while ago, but I was wondering if anyone knew anything about the LGBTQ scene at the University of Maryland College Park? I’m a senior in high school and I really wanted to go to a more gay college; I was accepted to several of the ones on the list (Brown, Cornell, American) but for financial reasons I have to go to UMD. Any advice? :)

  79. I was a lucky enough lezzi that I had enough scholarships to go to an ALL GIRLS private college(only for one year though, teachers weren’t my style). There were TONS of lesbians but, unfortunatly, not a lot of them wanted to be a part of the LGBT* group that was on campus (I was involved in it)…

  80. As a current Wellesley student, I can attest that our campus is truly queer-friendly. There is a “Women’s College Problems” tumblr and one of the posts is the following: “going from assuming everyone is straight to assuming everyone is gay.” 95% of my friends on & off campus are queer, so now that I’m home for the summer in my conservative, heteronormative town, I like to assume/ pretend everyone is gay. (Wow, I just realized how sad my current situation is…)

  81. I go to tulane university and in my opinon it definitely shouldn’t be on this list “/

  82. Ah! I live in Connecticut (currently attending Manchester Community College) and I’m planning on transferring to UConn either next year or my junior year. I love love love the queer presence at UConn! The Rainbow Center is a wonderful place, and UConn also hosts the largest LGBT youth conference in the country, True Colors. I’ve been going since I was a babygay in my sophomore year of highschool, and it is an awesome time- there’s few places or events more open, accepting, and educational for queer kids. It’s thanks to them that I got a queer sex education, that I know how to make a packer on the fly, that I’m friends with so many awesome queers, and that I feel so comfortable and happy with myself.

    I don’t know what kind of budget or capabilities Autostraddle has for travel and appearances and stuff, but I think that a queer writing/media panel hosted by you guys would be well received at the conference! They’re always open to new presenters. I think it would be a great thing for Autostraddle to be involved in.

  83. Hey, baby dyke here. I was wondering if anyone here has gone to University of Texas? I’m considering it and I was wondering if anyone could tell me about what it’s like there. Thanks.

  84. Serious question: are there any womens colleges that are NOT gay friendly? It seems that every single one of them have become magnets for lesbians…

  85. i’m seconding the question about u texas–particularly austin. i kind of have a huge crush on it, but if its intensive queerness winds up being man-based or overly prep/bro-y, i’ll be massively sad.
    problems with being a nice jewish dyke from brooklyn with a major thing for southern accents…

  86. Yeah I’m one of those “shit you’re young” up and coming seniors… I feel really unwelcome now. I actually love this website and visit it daily. Now I feel like I’m not supposed to be here, and that’s not very cool of you.

  87. My daughter went to Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and loved it. In state tuition for Wa. students. Not too bad for out of state students.

  88. Aww. This is a fantastic list, and I’m really glad to see people on here helping out the young’ns. Though oof, the fees…the tuition and fees make my stomach all twisty. I do wish my alma mater, UMass Amherst, had made the list. It’s got a vibrant LGBT community.

  89. Dude this was so helpful. I’m trying to look at colleges that have my major, nutrition, and are also super lesbian friendly :P luckily I’ve found a lot of them. Any other suggestions from the commenter people?

  90. Pingback: The Lesbian Insider's Guide to 40 LGBT-Friendly College Campuses - Autostraddle - Diversity Employer

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