Mason is ‘best of the best’ for LGBTQ+ students


George Mason University is one of only 30 institutions nationwide, and the only one in Virginia, to be awarded a 2023 “best of the best” ranking in Campus Pride’s recently released survey.

The acknowledgment adds to a growing list of accolades for the university for creating a welcoming and supportive campus for students, faculty, and staff, including:

  • A national No. 7 ranking, and No. 1 in Virginia, for developing high-level support networks for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff, according to a combined report by Best Colleges and Campus Pride.
  • A five-star Premiere Campus ranking by the Campus Pride Index.
  • And a 100% score in the Athletic Equity Index, one of just 19 institutions to receive that distinction in an examination of how NCAA Division I institutions support LGBTQ+ student-athletes.

“Mason is a place where all are welcome, supported, and can find their community,” said Rose Pascarell, vice president for University Life at Mason. “It is important to highlight these rankings to celebrate the students, faculty, staff, and community partners who have made Mason a national leader in this space.”

It doesn’t mean Mason is perfect, said Josh Kinchen, director of Mason’s LGBTQ+ Resources Center, but that “there is active, ongoing, committed work going on across campus.”

“It also helps students, particularly prospective students find us,” Kinchen (he/ze) said of the rankings. “We want them to come here. It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate that and the university’s commitment to doing this work.”

The already extensive work is expanding, Kinchen said.

More than 100 students engaged with new LGBTQ+-centric affinity spaces at New Student Convocation, Kinchen said. Lavender Orientation, which in the past was only offered only at Fall Welcome2Mason, will now also be offered during the spring event.

The LGBTQ+ Residential Learning Community will, for the first time, participate in Virginia PrideFest in Richmond in September. And the Safe Zone+ workshops that have been available at Mason Korea for three years will now have facilitators trained from within the Mason Korea community.

It is the kind of proactive atmosphere that attracted Sunny Sellers to Mason.

“Mostly I was looking for a place I could flourish,” said Sellers (they/them), a sophomore social work major who is also a student coordinator at the LGBTQ+ Resources Center. “As an LGBTQ+ person, I was really trying to find somewhere where I saw people like me and be in a place that accepted and respected me.”

It is an ongoing, evolving process, Kinchen said.

“We continue to think about new and innovative ways to engage our community, because we have more students identifying as part of that community, and because of the community’s complexity and vibrancy,” Kinchen said.