COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A national organization dedicated to helping campuses foster accepting environments has ranked Ohio State University as one of the best colleges for LGBTQ+ students. 

Associate Vice President for Belonging and Inclusion Dr. Tanisha Jenkins (Courtesy Photo/The Ohio State University Office of Student Life).

Campus Pride has named Ohio State in the annual “Best of the Best Colleges and Universities for LGBTQ+ Students in the United States.” The list recognizes the work of 40 campuses that have made communities and environments more welcoming for LGBTQ+ people. 

The 40 campuses have each received five stars on the Campus Pride Index, a benchmarking tool measuring LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs, and practices. This year’s index marks the 10th year OSU has been highlighted. 

“It was exciting to hear again this year and very affirming for our team and our students as well to know that the great work that is happening here on campus is not going unrecognized,” said Dr. Tanisha Jenkins, associate vice president for Belonging and Inclusion at OSU. 

Campuses must reach specific criteria across 10 categories to earn five stars, including policy inclusion, academic life, and campus safety. OSU received five out of five in support and institutional commitment, recruitment and retention efforts, housing and residence life, student life, and counseling and health.

Anchoring LGBTQ+ involvement at the university is the Center for Belonging and Social Change, providing numerous opportunities for students, including leadership groups, mentorship programs, events, and more. 

Ohio State University students at the Center for Belonging and Social Change (Courtesy Photo/The Ohio State University Office of Student Life).

The university is also home to many LGBTQ+ student organizations like Buckeye Spectrum, LGBTQ+ and Allies in Medicine, and the National Gay Pilots Association. Ohio State LGBTQ+ alums can join the Scarlet and Gay LGBTQ Alumni Society, which sponsors a scholarship program and hosts various events and organizations. 

Moving forward, Jenkins said OSU is working on expanding its reach to LGBTQ+ students and finding new ways to communicate all available resources and support systems. 

“There’s so much happening across campus, but sometimes students do not know what all is available,” Jenkins said. “So, making sure that we are doing a good job of telling our story and talking about all that is available for students to be successful here.” 

Jenkins said the majority of students who come to the center are searching for community. Finding the courage to join groups and connect with other students can be difficult in a state like Ohio. 

Along with 25 other states, Ohio has statutes and constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage that would be reenacted if Obergefell v. Hodges were overturned. In addition, the Ohio legislature has introduced several anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the past six months, including House Bill 616, a “divisive concepts” bill opponents have dubbed a “Don’t Say Gay” bill. 

Still, Jenkins said higher education is a place where all are supposed to grow, learn, and develop, and OSU is where they belong and can be their authentic self. 

“We’re also preparing them to go out and be good change agents in the world and in the nation, so that we make our entire world and the state of Ohio more welcoming and inclusive for all people — but it starts here,” Jenkins said.