SMU finally off list of homophobic schools

Posted on 24 Aug 2012 at 8:45am

But Texas remains only state with 3 of Princeton Review’s 20 most ‘LGBT-unfriendly’ colleges: A&M, Baylor and the University of Dallas

SMU

GETTING SOME GAY LOVE | In addition to not appearing on the Princeton Review’s list of LGBT-unfriendly schools, SMU received four out of five stars for the second straight year on another index from Campus Pride, a national organization for campus LGBT groups and leaders. (Amy Price/Dallas Voice)

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

Southern Methodist University has fallen off the Princeton Review’s list of “LGBT-unfriendly” schools after holding a top-20 position for a number of years. Texas, however, continues to lead the nation with three schools on the most-homophobic list, while having none ranked most-LGBT-friendly.

The three Texas schools ranked LGBT-unfriendly are Baylor, Texas A&M and the University of Dallas. A&M also ranks No. 1 for most conservative students.

The Princeton Review surveys student attitudes at hundreds of schools on a number of campus-related issues to help students find “best-fit” colleges.

SMU officials have questioned whether their school ever belonged on the list. Of those colleges and universities that have appeared on the LGBT-unfriendly list, SMU was one of the few with an

LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policy and the only one that offers benefits to the same-sex partners of employees. SMU even has an openly gay dean.

Karen Click, director of SMU’s Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives, said she doesn’t know how far off the list her school is.

“So this doesn’t mean we can relax,” Click said.

The Princeton Review doesn’t release where a school ranks beyond the top 20. Last year, Baylor fell off the list but returned this year at No. 10.

Click said that with a new school year starting this week, she hoped to find more allies than ever in the incoming freshman class.

Only one SMU official voiced displeasure with the school’s new ranking. Joe Hoselton, better known in the LGBT community as Jenna Skyy, is director of graduate admissions for the Meadows School of the Arts.

“How unfortunate I won’t be getting this call every year,” Hoselton said jokingly. “It’s bad for my vanity.”

Hoselton said SMU has not only gone to great lengths to get off the list but  has strived to become one of the most LGBT-welcoming schools in the country.

He cited gender-neutral bathrooms included in all new construction on campus as an indication of the school’s commitment to its transgender community.

Campus Pride, national organization for campus LGBT groups and leaders, calls the Princeton Review ratings “flawed.”

“The majority of students responding to such a question — irrespective of response — will be straight,” said Shane Windmeyer, founder of Campus Pride. “Their perceptions of equality are likely quite different from those of LGBT students. The Princeton Review should be asking LGBT students about their perceptions of ‘friendliness’ and safety.”

Campus Pride released its own ranking this week, and for the second year, SMU received four out of five stars. Hoselton said the school is aiming for five out of five.

Of the 341 schools listed by Campus Pride, 42 received its highest five-star rating.

Only two other schools in Texas — Rice and the University of Texas — received higher scores —4.5 stars. No Texas school received 5 stars.

Not all schools in the Dallas area were ranked by either survey.

Texas Christian University was the only other local school included in the Princeton Review rankings. While neither a best nor worst in the LGBT category, it did rate No. 15 for best dorms and No. 14 for “little race or class interaction.” TCU was not included in the Campus Pride list.

The University of North Texas was not included in the Princeton Review survey, but received 3.5 stars on the Campus Pride list.

The University of Texas Arlington and UT Dallas were not included on either list. Two-year colleges are not ranked.

Campus Pride didn’t rank Baylor or University of Dallas but viewed Texas A&M as much friendlier than Princeton Review did, giving the school 3.5 stars.

A&M moved up on the Princeton Review’s LGBT-unfriendly list from No. 10 last year to No. 7 this year.

Ryan Cano, a fifth-year senior who works at the Texas A&M Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, said his school has been ranked LGBT-unfriendly since 1994. But he said the Campus Pride rating of 3.5 stars, probably more accurately describes the campus climate.

“We have a long way to go,” Cano said. “But new freshman classes are always more open and accepting than the last one.”

He said the school’s resource center, which conservative lawmakers unsuccessfully tried to shut down during last year’s legislative session, has made a difference on campus.

The center is open all year and is a place where LGBT students can come to talk or participate in programming. Cano said the center puts together discussion panels for classes, dorms or other groups.

Requests for these panels are becoming more frequent and are helping to break down stereotypes across the campus.

In addition to three LGBT organizations at A&M, Cano said the Aggie Allies have about 900 faculty, staff and student members.

Having an LGBT Resource Center puts A&M ahead of Baylor. That school notoriously sued a group of alumni for organizing a Baylor LGBT alumni organization. And SMU’s alumni association kicked off a new LGBT alumni group with some fanfare last year.

Representatives from the University of Dallas and Baylor couldn’t be reached for comment.

…………………….

The Princeton Review’s top 20 LGBT-friendly and LGBT-unfriendly

LGBT-friendly
1. Emerson College
2. University of Wisconsin
3. Stanford University
4. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
5. New York University
6. New College of Florida
7. Bennington College
8. Warren Wilson College
9. College of the Atlantic
10. Wellesley College
11. Smith College
12. Whitman College
13. Macalester College
14. Bryn Mawr College
15. Brandeis University
16. Sarah Lawrence College
17. Pitzer College
18. Prescott College
19. Grinnell College
20. Oberlin College

LGBT-unfriendly
1. Grove City College
2. Hampden-Sydney College
3. College of the Ozarks
4. Wheaton College
5. University of Notre Dame
6. Catholic University of America
7. Texas A&M University
8. Wake Forest University
9. University of Rhode Island
10. Baylor University
11. Calvin College
12. Brigham Young University
13. Boston College
14. Thomas Aquinas College
15. University of Dallas
16. University of Tennessee
17. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
18. Hillsdale College
19. Pepperdine University
20. University of Wyoming

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 24, 2012.

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