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Tufts Hailed As Gay-Friendly Campus

Tufts Hailed As Gay-Friendly CampusAccording to a guide published by a major gay and lesbian publication , Tufts ranks among the top 20 campuses for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [08.28.06] Tufts' ongoing support of its LGBT community was recently recognized in a college guide published by one of the world's leading gay and lesbian publications. The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, the first of its kind, ranks Tufts among the 20 best schools in the United States for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

“It’s an incredible honor to be named one of the top 20,” Dona Yarbrough, director of Tufts University’s LGBT Center, told Bay Windows, a New England newspaper.

Top20The rankings, which highlighted 100 schools, were jointly determined by Campus PrideNet, a national online community of student leaders who are committed to LGBT issues, and the National Consortium of Directors of LGBT Resources in Higher Education. According to the consortium, just 109 colleges and universities across the United States have professional or graduate assistant staff providing LGBT resources and services today.

Others in the top 20 included a wide range of institutions, from Princeton to Oberlin.

"The top 100 colleges and universities profiled in The Advocate College Guide lead the way for the rest of higher education to be LGBT-friendly," Shane L. Windmeyer, executive director of Campus PrideNet and author of the guide, said in a Campus PrideNet statement. “These campuses take to heart the value of supporting all students."

Tufts scored 18 out of 20 on the guide's "Gay Point Average," which takes into account various representations of support for the LGBT community. While much of the focus was on undergraduates, some institution-wide benchmarks were also included. According to Yarbrough, fostering a supportive environment for students is a top priority at Tufts.

"Many people on the Tufts campus have worked tirelessly to create a positive environment for all of our students, and this distinction emphasizes the importance of providing the support necessary to meet all students’ needs—including LGBT students," she told E-News.

The guide also included positive comments from unnamed Tufts students about the LGBT environment at the school. Yarbrough told Bay Windows that she regularly responds to questions from prospective students about the LGBT climate at Tufts.

“It’s definitely something that LGBT high school students are looking for,” she told the newspaper.

Yarborough said that “while no university is 100% queer-friendly, Tufts is always striving to improve.” As part of that effort, she added, “it's essential to continue to educate the entire community about LGBT.”

Since its founding in 1992, the LGBT Center has worked toward that goal. It serves as the center of LGBT life on campus, providing a space where students can congregate in addition to facilitating discussion groups and special events. This October, as part of the Queer Studies Scholars Series, renowned science fiction author Samuel Delany will speak at Tufts about his career as an award-winning writer who happens to be both black and gay.

Among other special events planned over the course of the year by the LGBT Center are GAYpril, a month of events designed to raise awareness and support for the queer community, and the annual Safe Colleges conference, launched in 1998 as a forum for the New England collegiate community to discuss LGBT issues.

In addition to the LGBT Center, the Tufts campus is also home to the Rainbow House, where LGBT students and allies—as straight supporters of LGBT issues are called—live together and share in events such as movie nights and group dinners.

"At Tufts, many LGBT students feel very mainstreamed. They feel that they can be part of the Senate or part of an a capella group, or part of non-LGBT specific groups on campus," Yarbrough told E-News. "They also really appreciate having a center and LGBT-focused programs and activities … There are many different ways for students to enter into the community.”

Gay and lesbian faculty and staff, Yarbrough added, have had similar experiences.

"There's a lot of good will among the faculty and staff," she said. "It's widely recognized that Tufts is a gay-friendly place to work."

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