UWM named one of best campuses for LGBTQ students

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was named one of the nation’s best schools for LGBTQ students by a leading nonprofit that tracks LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices across hundreds of academic institutions.

Campus Pride named UWM to its annual Top 30 “Best of the Best” LGBTQ Friendly College & University list on Aug. 22. UWM is the only southeastern Wisconsin college/university – and one of only two in the state –  to break into the Campus Pride Top 30.

LGBTQ Lavender Graduation
Jen Murray (left), director of UWM’s LGBT Resource Center, presides over the annual Lavender Graduation celebration. The annual UWM event celebrates the achievements of graduates through the lens of their identity across the spectrum of gender identity, gender expression and/or sexual orientation. (UWM photo/Troye Fox)

Pride staff have been evaluating college and university LGBTQ offerings since 2008, noting that increasing numbers of students seek out campus communities where diversity and inclusion are woven into the social and academic fabric. Equally important, said Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer, is that students can find the resources they need to be successful and feel supported everywhere on campus.

“Prospective students and their families today expect colleges to be LGBTQ-friendly, “ Windmeyer said. “They want to know what LGBTQ programs, services and resources are available on the campus – and which are the best of the best. There are colleges that are recruiting LGBTQ youth – and they are investing in a campus that is fully supportive of LGBTQ students. This Top 30 list showcases those ‘Top’ campuses leading the way.”

At UWM, leadership on LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices includes:

  • The first gender-inclusive housing policy in the University of Wisconsin System. One example of how the policy works is that students who are transgender can room with other transgender students. “Inclusive” restrooms are located throughout campus.
  • One of the nation’s oldest LGBT studies programs, the Certificate in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Studies.
  • The 31st annual Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival in mid-October, hosted by Peck School of the Arts.

Finally, there is the ground floor of the UWM Union – home to UWM’s dedicated and highly visible LGBT Resource Center, a drop-in center for students whose professional staff and student employees host events year-round, including the 17-years-running UWM Drag Show and a new Pride Camp for high-school students.

“The center and its staff provide a dedicated campus resource that is one of the beacons of inclusion for our campus and community,” said UWM Dean of Students Tim Gordon.

UWM LGBT Resource Center Director Jen Murray said: “For students with marginalized identities, the campus climate regarding those identities plays a huge role in their decision about what campus they will call home for four years. We are proud to contribute to a climate at UWM that welcomes LGBT+ students to join our Panther Family.”

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