Rainbow Universities: which institutions are the most gay-friendly?

Catherine Maguire 17 September 2014

A major study by the UK’s leading gay, lesbian and bisexual charity has found that the UK’s universities are becoming more gay-friendly.

The Stonewall University Guide 2015 assessed  the country’s 158 universities for gay-friendly policies and practice. The checklist includes an implemented anti-bullying policy, monitoring of sexual orientation, welfare support and resources, LGB societies and events, and engagement with the wider community. The list is based on information that is publicly available on university and student union websites. If no information was found on provisions made for LGB students, it was assumed that none were available.

The universities found to be the most gay-friendly, scoring 10 out of 10, are Cardiff University, the University of Essex, the University of Glasgow, Liverpool John Moores University, Sheffield Hallam University and York St John University. By contrast, when the guide was launched in 2010, no university scored 10 out of 10.

Cambridge scored 6 out of 10, and was praised for its explicit welfare support, LGBT societies and events, consultations with LGB students, its LGBT staff network, and for being a Stonewall Diversity Champion, whereby organisations work with Stonewall to create a diverse working atmosphere. However, the University came in for criticism for its lack of anti-homosexual bullying policy, student sexual orientation monitoring, specific LGB career advice and engagement with the wider community. 

LGBT representative for the Trinity Hall JCR, Jacob Sen, praises Cambridge’s collegiate system and the wide range of support networks available to LGB students: “I think at Cambridge the advantage comes with the colleges – because there's an LGBT+ Officer within each JCR it means LGB students can get easy access to help as they know exactly who to contact. On top of that you have the support from the University Counselling Service, the Laurels Sexual Health Clinic and, of course, CUSU LGBT+ giving university-wide support.

"I think CUSU LGBT+ is incredibly important for bringing together the college reps and organising a large range of events. That ensures the social and support aspect is brought together so that LGB students can feel like an autonomous community within their university, whilst also welcoming allies.”

The findings come just days after research carried out by the University, in collaboration with Harvard and the thinktank the Rand Corporation revealed that gay people are more likely to report communication problems and have less trust in their GP.