With a demonstrated commitment to students of all sexual orientations and gender identities, Trinity College recently earned a rating of 5 out of 5 stars on the Campus Pride Index, an independent national database on the LGBTQ inclusiveness of campuses across the country.
“I’m immensely proud of the efforts the Trinity community has taken to earn this exceptional rating as we continue to strive to be a campus where all can thrive,” said Anita Davis, Trinity’s vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion. “The Campus Pride Index provides us with invaluable feedback focused specifically on the experiences of LGBTQ+ members of the Trinity community. This annual report assesses our progress, while assisting us in strategizing with campus partners about ways to address concerns and act on what we learn.”
“This is huge for the Trinity community,” Crystal Nieves ’08, M’23, Trinity’s director of LGBTQ+ life, said of the rating. “The Campus Pride Index is our road map to get the campus to where it needs to be, in terms of inclusive policies for employees and students, campus life efforts, and everything that could affect a student’s well-being and their ability to succeed at college.”
Since 2007, the Campus Pride Index has functioned as an LGBTQ national benchmarking tool to help colleges and universities create safer, more inclusive campus communities. Prospective students, families, or employees, and those interested in higher education use the free online database to search for LGBTQ-friendly colleges that are dedicated to improving the academic experience and quality of campus life, according to Nieves.
An extensive annual Campus Pride Index Assessment completed by Nieves’ office surveyed a range of aspects surrounding student life. They included College policies, housing options, and whether students are able to use their chosen name and pronouns in the classroom.
When members of the public—including potential employees, prospective students and families, and teachers or guidance counselors—look up Trinity on the Campus Pride Index, they have access to the College’s LGBTQ-Friendly Report Card. This report includes specific ratings of sexual orientation-related policies and programs, gender identity-related policies and programs, institutional support, academic life, student life, counseling and health resources, housing, safety, and more.
“It’s all-encompassing of the things we call LGBTQ+ life and measures our friendliness as an institution,” Nieves said. The assessment is reviewed and scored by a team of higher education LGBTQ resource professionals and the Campus Pride team.
Of the more than 400 colleges and universities that completed the Campus Pride Index Assessment this year, 47 received 5-star ratings.
Since Trinity began participating in the index more than 10 years ago, the College’s rating has increased from 3.5, to 4, to 4.5, to 5. “That consistent improvement is really important to us,” Nieves said. “Trinity’s 5-star rating reflects that we are doing the right strategic things to build a strong foundation that offers an opportunity to impact the entire campus culture.” Improvements Trinity has made include a gender-inclusive housing process and the housing options available to new and returning students, she added.
Nieves said that yearly reassessments mean that colleges must continue to improve in order to maintain their ratings. “Sometimes the benchmarks will change as the minimum expectations in different categories go up,” she said. Nieves expects more progress to be made at Trinity around trans inclusion and restroom access, in particular. “An official restroom access statement for the College would clarify that anyone may use the restroom they are most comfortable with,” said Nieves, who added that the campus is also working on opening more all-gender restrooms.
Nieves said that students and the entire Trinity community have many opportunities to get involved with LGBTQ+ life this semester, starting when the College co-sponsors Hartford Pride on September 9. In October, Trinity is offering activities for LGBTQ History Month, co-sponsoring the Out Film CT film festival, and observing Ally Week and National Coming Out Day. November programming will include the Trans Day of Remembrance. Joining the student group EROS (Encouraging Respect of Sexualities) on campus is a new Trinity chapter of Out in STEM and other new affinity groups. Nieves also is planning programming that will discuss Trinity’s own LGBTQ history, to tie in with the College’s Bicentennial, and programming for queer and trans students of color.
Trinity students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to sign up for the Queer Resource Center’s LGBTQ+ Foundations & Allyship Moodle training. This self-paced course is designed to help members of the Trinity community gain a baseline understanding and awareness of LGBTQ+ related concepts and experiences; learn about campus resources; and develop their allyship skills. It also offers participants an opportunity to become campus Safe Zone members. “More than 1,000 members of our community have complete this course since its launch in 2022,” Nieves said.
“When I was an undergraduate student here, I never would have imagined that Trinity could become a 5-star school this quickly. At the time when I first came to Trinity, we didn’t even have the Queer Resource Center,” Nieves said. “To me, I think it’s a realization of something I always thought was possible—that Trinity could be this place. I hope it motivates us as an institution to be accountable and to keep doing the things we’re supposed to be doing to help and protect our students. We have a much bigger rainbow at Trinity now.”