By Dale Price of Access College America
Finding the right college fit can be daunting for both prospective college students and parents but for those identifying as a member of the transgender community, the task of sorting through so many college options may require more time and research. Most notably, while searching for a university that supports the LGBTQ community, identifying specific trans-inclusive policies should not be overlooked either. The good news is more and more universities are embracing trans-inclusive protections than ever before.
America is home to well over 2,000 colleges. Every single campus will vary in the level of celebration, support and guaranteed protections for the transgender community. Finding an inclusive institution that embraces transgender students should be expressed in their university policies, academics and culture. Here are Access College America’s top tips and strategies for finding trans-inclusive colleges:
First, we recommend starting with CampusPride.Org and reviewing the Campus Pride Index. This index defines a national standard for LGBTQ inclusive programs. After visiting the schools on this list, check out their CampusPride.Org/TPC (a Trans Policy Clearinghouse). Find out if the colleges on your interest list offers any of the following:
- Is there a nondiscrimination policy?
- Is gender-inclusive housing offered?
- Are gender-neutral restrooms available? Where?
- Are there any name and gender change policies addressed?
- What are the intramural sports policies?
- Do they over transition-related medical expenses?
Next, the heartbeat for any college is in their academics. We recommend all prospective students review the school catalog. Does this campus offer lectures and classes that discuss sexual identity, orientation, gender and/or sexuality? What options are offered to study in the areas relevant to transgender specific needs or concerns? Keep in mind, some universities offer a certificate in the area of Gender and Sexuality, such as Princeton. While other universities completely disregard any trans-inclusive subject material by order of policy. Knowing what types of classes and lectures are offered is crucial to understanding how relevant a trans-inclusive community it really is.
Finally, students and parents should visit the campus and take a tour. During this experience, ask yourself “do I feel welcome and safe here?”. If possible, sit through a college class in the area that interests you. Find out from admissions if there is a Diversity Resource Center on campus and review their calendar of events to educate yourself on their activities. Does this center offer any trans-inclusive safety and prevention classes for faculty, staff and students to attend? Does this center plan any activities or events during Transgender Awareness Week? Are there any trans student leaders to speak with, those who volunteer for the campus or maybe even a faculty staff member available to meet with you? If so, having candid conversations about your dreams and aspirations, addressing any concerns during this time, is important. It is highly recommended to ask about the student experience on and off campus too. Prospective students should always take inventory of the campus vibe on the college search and weigh this with the most high regards.
Please keep in mind these recommendations are not a complete check-list for your college search. We always advise parents and students to do their own diligence with research too; after all, college is a personal choice and one that lasts a lifetime. Always remember, as a prospective student or active student, furthering the conversation for trans-inclusive policies and protections with college administration, admissions, faculty and staff is important. Through thoughtful conversation and education, the transgender community will continue to expand their inclusion with dignity, integrity and care.
Dale Price, MBA is a college admissions expert and Founder of Access College America LLC, a nationally recognized educational consulting agency. He is the Former Senior Admissions Officer at the Los Angeles Film School in Hollywood and Past President of the Texas Exes Los Angeles, a registered 501(c)(3). His consulting practice assists parents with high school kids find the right college fit through self-discovery. He has an MBA from the University of Redlands and Bachelors of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin. Learn more about Access College America’s packages, services and pricing by visiting www.AccessCollegeAmerica.org, or via email [email protected]. Search @AccessCollegeAmerica on Facebook for tips and admissions strategies.