Tertiary education in Florida is making way for its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students. Thanks to student-led LGBT organizations and new nondiscrimination policies, university students can thrive regardless of gender identity and expression!
In this guide, we’ll cover five of the best Florida universities for LGBT students – and we’ll discuss how you should go about choosing the right one for you!
University Of Central Florida – Orlando
The University of Central Florida is currently one of the most affirming and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ+ students in Florida. Its Social Justice and Advocacy policy “assures diversity” and offers ample resources on gender identity and expression, as well as other LGBTQ+ affairs.
The school has since developed a 20-point map of its gender-neutral restrooms, while its mentoring program matches LGBT faculty up with students who need professional development support.
In 2018, the university instituted its Preferred Name policy for class rosters, identification cards, and other records. In addition, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students can also request an LGBT roommate through the school’s matching system.
The Campus Pride Index also recently hailed affairs at the university for language diversity programs and “coming out” workshops for students and allies.
Finally, the school’s Pride Commons is a space for LGBTQ-identified students to connect, learn, and relax. It is also an avenue to empower LGBTQ student leaders to offer support and educational programming.
Florida State University – Tallahassee
Florida State University’s 50-year-old Pride Student Union is the most prominent student-run organization in the state’s history. Over five decades, the school has provided helpful career decision-making resources for LGBT job-seekers and advanced its students in impressive fields like medicine and law.
As part of the 1969 People’s Coalition for Gay Rights, the Pride Student Union has played an essential role in fighting for student equality. The school even participated in America’s first pride parade in 1979!
It has since included sexual orientation and gender identity in its nondiscrimination policies and erected all-gender restrooms on campus. Now, the school is home to multiple student-led LGBT organizations that host various events to celebrate progress.
For instance, its Allies and Safe Zones programs aim to provide all students with comprehensive sexual identity and gender expression resources. Additionally, ASZ leaders work to empower LGBTQ ambassadors as change agents on its Tallahassee campus by confronting personal biases and providing a space for open discussion.
University Of North Florida – Jacksonville
This university’s LGBTQ+ Center is home to groups such as Club Can-Do, which offers community-based mentoring for LGBT students preparing for career readiness. Other identity organizations like the Grey Spectrum allow attendees to participate in peer-led discussions with LGBT student leaders and ambassadors.
In the past, the university has hosted Youth Pride events with special performances by prominent community drag queens, dancers, and singers – yes, that occasionally includes the one and only Ru Paul! Other annual on-campus events include free HIV testing and Safe Space Training.
Ultimately, the University of North Florida in Jacksonville has made impressive efforts to define and explain unfamiliar concepts and create visibility for LGBTQ-identified students. Plus, UNF’s Drag Queen Brunches are something you don’t want to miss!
University Of South Florida – Tampa
The University of South Florida prides itself as a melting pot of multicultural affairs. Its coalition of student organizations fosters cross-cultural relationships and develops highly diverse student leaders.
Its People Respecting Individual Diversity and Equality (PRIDE) Alliance is the oldest continually funded LGBT-led student organization in Florida. Along with the Queer and Trans People of Color Collective (QTPOCC), this university offers a safe space for LGBT individuals of color.
Those still struggling with their gender identities also have a welcome place in this university. Its Safe Zone program brings you back to the basics of fundamental terms and experiences. Participants learn all about LGBT history, national policies, and how to get involved in positive change.
The University Of Florida – Gainesville
At the revered University of Florida, LGBT community support is like none other. According to its mission statement:
“LGBTQ+ Affairs strives to provide an affirming and welcoming space for all LGBTQ+ identified students. We work to empower LGBTQ+ student leaders and ambassadors as change agents on campus and in the community, recognizing that sexual identity and gender identity and expression work through and are influenced by race, ethnicity, culture, age, disability, class, faith, and other social characteristics, we offer support and educational programming that incorporate principles of social justice to reduce heterosexism, genderism, homophobia, and transphobia in all of their forms on the UF campus and beyond.”
LGBT affairs at this Gainesville university welcome incoming community members through its New to UF initiative. This program aims to provide an affirming space for LGBT-centric resources that aid students’ identity development and academic growth.
Florida Atlantic University – Boca Raton
The Florida Atlantic University has long been a refuge for LGBTQ+ students. Its Office of LGBTQ+ Initiatives and Allyship provides training, educational, and social programming to both students and faculty.
Its other signature programs include Queer Coffee Hour, which is an opportunity for staff and students on campus to discuss topics regarding gender identity and inclusion. If you prefer a lunchtime opportunity, the school’s Lavender Lunches provide willing students with opportunities to collaborate with LGBT Office initiatives.
Do you want to share your experience in a creative way? Sign up for the Coming Out Monologues! You can express yourself through spoken word, a stand-up comedy show, or even through song!
How To Find An LGBT-Friendly College In Florida
When choosing an LGBT-friendly campus in Florida, there are many things students have to consider. You can determine a school’s inclusivity by looking at these factors:
The Campus Pride Index
The Campus Pride Index is a benchmarking tool for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students to discover inclusive campuses. Here, LGBTQ students can review any school’s policies, campus safety protocols, counseling opportunities, and more.
The School’s Nondiscrimination Policy
Does your chosen university have a nondiscrimination policy? Great! But it isn’t enough that they promise to provide an affirming and welcoming space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning students.
When reviewing a campus’ nondiscrimination policy, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are these policies general or specific? How do I know my rights are protected?
- How does this university promise to handle discriminatory incidents against race, ethnicity, culture, age, disability, class, faith, etc?
- Does it work closely with LGBT-led student leaders and ambassadors?
- Do LGBT affairs incorporate principles of social justice?
Think about whether a policy suits your ideals and if you’d feel well-represented by the institution.
Available Resources For LGBT Students
When picking an inclusive university, LGBT-led organizations and a pride student union are just starting points. Consider whether the institution offers additional resources for counseling or support.
Do its professionals have a background in counseling LGBT youth? If so, are students satisfied? If you answered yes to both questions, chances are your chosen school is living up to its promises.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender student looking to study in Florida, you’re in luck. Many college campuses like the University of Florida are increasing their commitments to LGBT students.
Remember, campus experiences can make or break your college career. Don’t be afraid to get picky – your future might depend on it!