August 13, 2009

>Campus Pride: List of "Gay Community Accepted" colleges is "erroneous & potentially misleading"

>Campus Pride, an organization that strives to create safe environments for LGBT college students, recently issued a warning about the Princeton Review's "Gay Community Accepted" and "Alternative Lifestyle Not an Alternative" lists of colleges in their forthcoming 2010 publication The Best 371 Colleges (Random House/Princeton Review). The Princeton Review is a well-known standardized test and college preparation organization, but Campus Pride found these two lists in question to be problematic in their methodology and word choice.

As Campus Pride's press release states:

[These lists'] rankings were based off one single question asked to 122,000 students at the 371 top colleges -- whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: "Students, faculty, and administrators treat all persons equally regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression."

"This list is an erroneous, misleading indicator of acceptance for LGBT youth and their safety on campus," said Shane Windmeyer, founder and executive director of Campus Pride..."The majority of students responding to such a question – irrespective of response – will be straight. Their perceptions of equality are likely quite different from those of LGBT students."

[...]

Another reason for concern is the dated use of the words 'alternative lifestyle' when referring to the lives of LGBT people. "It’s disrespectful and out of touch because it alludes that being gay is a choice and something that can be cured," Windmeyer said. "The insensitivity to language is a major warning sign that this guide does not have the nuanced perspective to be a trusted resource and to truly understand the complexity of LGBT students' lives and needs."

Given the physical, verbal, and emotional abuse that many LGBT students face due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity expression, Campus Pride fears that Princeton Review's lists--which did not highlight the opinions of LGBT students at these colleges, nor examine schools' anti-discrimination polices--may provide misleading information that could put LGBT college students in harm's way.

As an alternative, the organization has offered its own Campus Climate Index as a free resource guide for students and their families. The online index lists "over 200+ colleges and universities with inclusive LGBT policies, programs and practices."

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