UCF was listed recently as the top college for LGBTQ+ students in Florida and as one of the top 25 in the nation by BestColleges.com in partnership with the Campus Pride Index.
The list ranked higher-education institutions on their academics, affordability and LGBTQ+ services.
Justin Andrade ’10, director of the university’s Social Justice and Advocacy, says the recognition was for “the intentional work at UCF to uplift our LGBTQ+ students and to ensure they are valued and supported.”
Among the reasons UCF was chosen, BestColleges says the university’s LGBTQ+ Services, which is part of Student Development and Enrollment Services, offers access to resources, mentorship programs and ally training.
UCF established an LGBTQ+ student advisory board to represent the community in school matters, as well as the Pride Commons — a safe community space. The UCF Student Senate has passed proclamations for Transgender Week of Visibility, Celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride Month, as well as urged the university to stand with transgender athletes during the most recent anti-transgender legislation.
UCF students have access to gender-neutral restrooms and an array of LGBTQ+ student organizations.
UCF instituted a “preferred name” policy last year, listing the preferred name of trans students — as opposed to their birth name — on class rosters, student IDs, and university records. All students can choose to indicate their pronouns on Canvas (online learning platform). Campus housing also instructs residence staff about LGBTQ+ issues.
UCF offers courses and certificates in gender studies and has many social justice and advocacy communities on campus. Additionally, multiple scholarships are available to UCF LGBTQ+ students to ease financial stress, including the Dively-Dupuis Scholarship, Ferrante Family Scholarship and SURF (LGBTQ+ Research) Scholarship.
UCF also offers a mentoring program that matches LGBTQ+ faculty and staff mentors with students to provide professional-development support and encourage students throughout their academic careers.
“When it comes to academics, affordability, and institutional commitment to LGBTQ+ students, UCF continues to provide a top-tier college experience in the state of Florida that BestColleges and Campus Pride are excited to celebrate.” — Cobretti Williams, senior editor for BestColleges
BestColleges credits the university for its inclusive campus housing, instructing residence staff about LGBTQ+ issues, including accommodation requests for trans-identified students and an opportunity for LGBTQ+ students to write-in preferences for LGBTQ+-friendly roommates through a roommate-matching system.
Cobretti Williams, senior editor and spokesman for BestColleges.com, says UCF, like other universities on the list, provides a quality academic experience and a safe, inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ students.
“Nationwide, LGBTQ students consider a variety of factors when choosing a college — including location, family support, and financial aid. A college’s support of LGBTQ+ students as they grow and develop is crucial to creating an inclusive educational environment,” Williams says. “When it comes to academics, affordability, and institutional commitment to LGBTQ+ students, UCF continues to provide a top-tier college experience in the state of Florida that BestColleges and Campus Pride are excited to celebrate.”