A Continued Commitment

For the second year in a row, the LGBTQ+ Campus Pride Index awards Kenyon a rare five-star rating.

By David Hoyt

The Campus Pride Index, the most widely recognized assessment of LGBTQ+ inclusivity on college campuses, recently awarded Kenyon a five-star rating for the 2020-2021 academic year — maintaining a ranking that the College first achieved in 2019-2020. The national metric evaluates campus inclusivity using a set of eight criteria, including academic life, housing and campus safety. Its exclusive five-star distinction is currently held by only 45 colleges and universities across the country and only three in Ohio. Campus Pride, in partnership with BestColleges, also named Kenyon, once again, as one of the top 25 schools in the U.S. for LGBTQ+ students.

Associate Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) Dorian Rhea Debussy applauded the campus-wide effort behind Kenyon’s recognition again this year. “Creating a more inclusive and equitable community is everyone’s work, and to achieve this level of recognition for two years in a row requires intentional investment across the whole of the institution,” she said. “This achievement shows that we recognize the importance of both this work and the needs of our LGBTQ+ students. I’m so appreciative of everyone for working towards continued progress, and of course, I’m thankful for our campus’ continued commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Building on the work of previous years, ODEI marked several additional milestones toward increased inclusivity and support for LGBTQ+ students and employees during the past academic year. In coordination with Kenyon’s maintenance department and Office of Residential Life, gender-neutral housing options and bathroom facilities were, yet again, expanded across campus. Through the NCAA’s Division III LGBTQ OneTeam program, Kenyon has also continued to advocate for trans-inclusive athletic environments. 

Since LGBTQ+ individuals often face unique challenges in receiving sufficient healthcare, ODEI partnered with the Equitas Health Institute to offer cultural humility training to over 100 local medical providers in and around Knox County. Kenyon also continues to offer critical health insurance coverage options for its employees, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention and transition-related coverage beyond just hormone-replacement therapy (HRT). 

And, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, LGBTQ+ programming also reached wide audiences. In addition to other programs, more than 240 students from dozens of institutions nationwide attended the 2nd biennial Kenyon Queer and Trans Studies Conference, held virtually in April, which is now the largest conference of its type in the state of Ohio.    

Debussy noted her excitement around this accomplishment for the campus community, while also sharing that this does not mean the work is done. “I’m excited about the progress that Kenyon has made during the past three years, and I’m thankful for our students, who have been crucial to guiding this work across our campus,” she said. “Our plan is to keep listening to them and to continue working towards an even more inclusive and equitable campus community.”

Ben Hunkler ’20 contributed reporting.