Earlier this year the school made headlines by including transgender surgeries in its insurance coverage, and now The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has topped the list of most LGBT-friendly campuses in the nation.
The school is among the 25 best in the country when it comes to supporting LGBT students according to an index put out by national LGBT student organization Campus Pride. UIC also made the cut last year as well.
The index ranks schools in the areas of academic life, student life, policies and practices, campus safety, housing and residence life, counseling and health services and recruitment and retention.
Twenty-two Illinois schools are among the more than 380 featured on the index. Only schools that completed the campus pride questionnaire are included.
UIC scored high marks for its anti-discrimination policies, programming, policies supporting transgender students and campus facilities like housing and bathrooms, among other things.
Megan Carney, director of UIC's Gender and Sexuality Center, said the ranking is not unexpected, but said credit goes to UIC's surrounding community, both in Chicago and at the school itself.
"From the top down, we do feel that we have support," Carney said.
Carney said their goal was not to top the list, but work toward inclusivity and help other schools to do the same.
"I hope that the ranking supports other schools to do what they need to do where they are," Carney said.
Shane Windmeyer, executive director at Campus Pride, said that transgender issues tended to distinguish schools that excelled from those that have more work to do.
"There's still a lot of campuses that consider themselves LGBT-friendly that have yet to do a lot in terms of programming and resources for transgender students," Windmeyer said.
The index, intended primarily as a self-assessment tool for schools, aims to shed light on those shortcomings for schools. Colleges and universities can participate in the survey without publishing the results.
Windmeyer said that of schools that participated in the index last year, 80 percent improved their scores this time around.
Twenty-two Illinois schools participated in the index, averaging 3.7 stars out of five. The University of Chicago and Northwestern University boasted five start ratings. Earning 4.5 stars were Southern Illinois University, Adler School of Professional Psychology, DePaul University, Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
But Windmeyer said that schools with lower index scores should also be commended. The index is optional, he noted, and schools that publish their scores are already working towards making the campus safer for LGBT students.
"The fact that they're on the index shows that they're committed to being LGBT-friendly," Windmeyer said. "It's the colleges that are not on the index that you should be asking about in the state of Illinois."
A full listing of colleges and universities in the Campus Pride index is available at campusprideindex.org/search/default.aspx?Status=Edit