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Ithaca College is consistently ranked among the most LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities in the country, according to Campus Pride. That’s partly because of college supports like the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach, and Services; the ability to use a chosen first name and gender marker in official campus records; the creation of all-gender restrooms; and open housing policies that enable students to select roommates regardless of their sex or gender.

There are also LGBTQ+ student organizations that offer educational, social, and leadership opportunities. Student-coordinated Zap panels help educate the campus community about the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ students. And each year the center hosts a film series, a National Coming Out Day speaker, Pride Prom, and the Rainbow Reception, which recognizes LGBTQ+ and allied graduates.

All these things were borne out of grassroots efforts led by a dedicated community. “The roots of the LGBTQ+ community here go back a long way,” said Luca Maurer, the program director of the Ithaca College Center for LGBT Education, Outreach, and Services since 2001. “The roots are the individuals who were willing to take the risk and advocate for change on campus because they believed the college would be receptive. Today, the members of the community demonstrate that same courage every day in order to help move social justice forward.”

“From the fight to get the LGBT Center on campus to the more recent battle to get a Queer studies curriculum on the books, the IC LGBTQ+ community has consistently worked to make IC a top-25 LGBTQ campus in the country year after year,” said one 2016 grad. “It’s their determination that has literally saved lives, helped make the campus more inclusive, and inspired the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders.”