Every student is entitled to equal educational opportunities and an environment that supports them. They also deserve to show up as and express their authentic selves, which includes having their proper name and pronouns used in classroom and administrative settings. For LGBTQ+ college students, this can prove difficult as there are no overarching policies or laws regarding name and pronoun usage at universities. Public universities often have more protections for LGBTQ+ students whereas private and religious educational institutions may follow different policies. Below you can find some information on best practices and ideas on how to best approach the subject with staff, professors, and administration. The links and resources provided were not compiled by GLAD and have not been vetted by GLAD.

Applying to LGBTQ+ Friendly Universities

Name & Pronoun Use and the Common App

Due to the Common App (a platform that allows students to use one college application to apply to several universities) asking students for their (preferred) names and pronouns, as of January 2022 over 900 universities across the US now have the ability to integrate the use of those names and pronouns, and over 200 universities directly use this information in their campus information systems.

Here you can find a list from August 2023 of The Best Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students in the US. You can also use the Campus Pride Index.

Pronoun and Name Usage on Campus

Professors using your correct name and pronouns:

All students deserve to be treated with respect. One way professors can be respectful is by asking for and using students’ correct name and pronouns (even if they differ from what’s on the students’ records).

If you are being named incorrectly and misgendered here are some steps you can take to advocate for yourself:

  • Bring it up to the person misgendering or misnaming you. They may not be aware that they are doing so and might be able/willing to easily change this.
  • Share resources. You can find GLSEN’s Pronouns Guide here.
  • Start a conversation on campus and advocate for campus-wide change. Connect with Campus Pride to take their trainings and use their LGBTQ+ advocacy resources.
  • Go to the Title IX Office. Persistent, intentional misgendering is also something you can raise with the Title IX Office at your university.

Updating your preferred name and pronouns with the registrar’s office:

Some universities now give students the ability to update their name and pronoun information at the registrars’ office so as to not out trans students to their professors and other campus staff. Check out this example of a policy to update for preferred (not legal) names and pronouns from Berklee College of Music.

If your school does not have such a policy and/or is refusing to allow you to update your name and pronouns through the registrar’s office, you may be able to make a Title IX complaint. Title IX protects LGBTQ+ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Read more about Title IX here.

Because of FERPA protections, if you are over 18, by law you are able to update your name and pronouns at your college without that information being shared with your parents, guardians, spouse, or financial benefactors.

Advocating for correct name and pronoun usage on campus:

Campus Pride has great advocacy trainings and resources for students.

University Policies, Best Practices, Etc.

Guides for universities looking to update their practices

Below, university administration, professors, and staff can find guides on supporting LGBTQ+ students in higher education:

GLAD Answers

If you’ve followed these steps and the situation has not resolved or is getting worse, please reach out to GLAD Answers. Complete the online intake form at GLADAnswers.org, email GLADAnswers@glad.org, or leave a voicemail at 800-455-GLAD.