Press Release from Campus Pride:
Campus Pride issues warning regarding the Top 20 “Gay Community Accepted” and “Alternative Lifestyle Not an Alternative” rankings in the 2010 edition of the Princeton Review’s annual college guide The Best 371 Colleges (Random House/Princeton Review, $22.99). The national nonprofit organization believes that not only is the use of “alternative lifestyle” problematic when referring to the lives of LGBT people, but the methodology Princeton Review used to garner their findings is too simplistic and could potentially lead to harmful, unsafe choices for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) students looking for acceptance and support during college.
The criteria that Princeton Review used to determine the best LGBT “acceptance” at colleges was not based on significant LGBT student opinions or research related to inclusive LGBT policies, programs or practices as one might expect. Their 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 and the author of The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, the first-ever guide profiling the 100 Best LGBT-Friendly Colleges, released in 2006 by Alyson Books. “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.”
While Princeton Review— a widely trusted company—believes that their rankings are created to help parents and students determine which school is right for them, Campus Pride believes that parents who are truly concerned for their children’s safety and well-being will be misled by these particular findings. Campus Pride strongly believes that given the rise in violence and harassment among LGBT students, there are serious issues to consider when looking for the right college.
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.”
Campus Pride believes that LGBT students deserve better. “Today more and more LBGT high school youth are making life decisions on the college that not only best fits their academic needs, but also a college where they can live and learn openly in a safe and welcoming environment,” says Windmeyer. “If students and families do decide to use the Princeton Review as a resource, I would encourage them to compare its rankings for LGBT schools with those available from the Campus Climate Index (http://www.campusclimateindex.org) – plus, it’s free.”
The Campus Climate Index, developed by Campus Pride in 2007, is an online educational research tool for LGBT students and their families with over 200+ colleges and universities with inclusive LGBT policies, programs and practices. In 2010, Campus Pride’s National LGBT College Climate Survey (http://www.campuspride.org/research) will share the attitudes and perceptions of LGBT students, faculty and staff in a report titled “The State of Higher Education for LGBT People.”
For more information on Campus Pride, please visit www.campuspride.org.