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New College Guide Praises Vassar for Supporting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Students

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered) has cited Vassar College as one of the 100 most supportive U.S. colleges, in the first comprehensive publication of its kind. "An LGBT beacon of progress, Vassar College has zero tolerance for anti-LGBT behavior and is alma mater to many LGBT groundbreakers, from legendary lesbian poets like Elizabeth Bishop, Muriel Rukeyser, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, to contemporary activists like Urvashi Vaid, Eric Marcus, and Ann Northtrop," the guidebook offers in its summary of the college.

Based on nearly 5,000 online interviews with LGBT college students, faculty, and staff around the country, the book profiles each selected school on criteria from courses, faculty support, student groups, and campus resources, to the campus and local social scene, housing, and tuition.

"There is no doubt that at Vassar I can be whom I want to be and be open and respected, not just in sexual identity, but in my appearance, thinking, and character," said sophomore Matthew Leung. "Vassar is a tightly knit community with freedom for one to express oneself free of barriers."

Through such departments and programs as philosophy, political science, women's studies, and Africana studies, the Vassar curriculum provides a variety of courses that focus or touch upon LGBT issues, including "Queer Theory," "Lesbian Sex and Politics in the U.S.," "Human Rights and Politics," "The Politics of Difference," and the popular freshman course "Queer Alphabets" taught by English professor and novelist Paul Russell. Many LGBT students undertake independent studies, and the informal Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Caucus faculty organization typically numbers more than 50 members.

As an umbrella organization for various student groups, the Queer Coalition of Vassar College organizes and helps facilitate a variety of campus activities, from entertainment events to weekly discussions, including collaborations with the Gay-Straight Alliance and the Women's Group. The Advocate guide highlighted the annual "Gays of Our Lives" quiz show, All Campus SpeakOut, and Queer Prom as some of Vassar's most distinct LGBT-friendly social events.

The college also provides Blegen House, a program of the Office of Campus Life, as both an LGBT resource center for Vassar and the surrounding community, as well as a facilitator of larger discussions on social change and related cultural and political issues.

"I am thrilled that Vassar has been recognized as one of the best LGBT campuses," said Judy "JJ" Jackson, Dean of the College. "This honor acknowledges the respect that we have for our students, and our shared responsibility regarding the quality of the student experience. Our students speak clearly to us about their needs and we do our best to listen."

The bi-weekly Advocate is the world's most widely read gay news and entertainment magazine, and its website has won the prestigious Silver Folio Award for Editorial Excellence. Shane L. Windmeyer, author of The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, is also the editor of Brotherhood: Gay Life in College Fraternities, co-editor of the books Out on Fraternity Row: Personal Accounts of Being Gay in a College Fraternity and Secret Sisters: Stories of Being Lesbian and Bisexual in a College Sorority, co-founder of the Lambda 10 Project, and founder of Campus Pride.Net, the leading national organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, September 5, 2006