If you are not an alum or fan of the final four teams in the college football playoff and want a rooting interest based on the school's inclusiveness to LGBT students, then root for an Ohio State vs. Oregon final.
Ohio State and Oregon each scored a perfect 5 out of 5 on the Campus Pride Index, which rates schools on their policies, practices and programs for LGBT students. It is the only such index for college campuses and a valuable tool for gay students looking at what school to attend.
The other two schools in the playoff didn't fare as well. Alabama scored a 2 out of 5 but at least participated in the index. The same can't be said for Florida State, which has not responded to the index questions despite the project having been around since 2006. Other major universities in Florida are on the index, including Florida, Miami and Central Florida.
Shane Windmeyer, Campus Pride Executive Director, said he had no idea why Florida State has never participated in the index, which focuses on eight LGBT-Friendly factors: LGBT policy inclusion; LGBT support and institutional commitment; LGBT academic life; LGBT student life; LGBT housing; LGBT campus safety; LGBT counseling and health; and LGBT recruitment and retention Efforts.
Florida State does have gay student groups and its absence from the index does not mean the school is unfriendly to LGBT students. I reached out to an LGBT group at Florida State about campus life there and have not heard back and will update if I do. Update: I did hear back and FSU has some great programs for LGBT students.
Update: There were some great tweets sent by FSU alum in reaction to this story and felt this was the best spot for them:
@outsports FSU is one of the most liberal universities in the South. Lots of protections for LGBT students, faculty, and staff. #FSU— Nathan Beidler (@natebeidler) December 11, 2014
@outsports another gay FSU alum. Very proud of our LGBT center and LGBT friendly policies. One of the reasons I chose FSU to begin with.— Katie Schmitt (@dasSchmitt) December 11, 2014
@outsports as a queer two time #FSU grad, the pride student union was the most visited student org. #Noles— John McSweeney (@johnpfm) December 11, 2014
Despite its low 2 of 5 stars, Windmeyer was happy Alabama took the time to be on the index. "It's important to applaud Alabama and give them a lot of credit for being there," he said. "At least the school knows what policies they have and where they need to improve." In addition, big props go to Bama coach Nick Saban, who said he would treat an openly gay player with dignity and respect.
Ohio State and Oregon are the gold standard for universities for their programs geared to LGBT students. Ohio State has also revamped its applications to allow students to optionally state if they are LGBTQ, which allows the school to track them as they do other minority groups to determine retention rates.
I went to Penn State (5 out of 5 stars) so don't have a natural major rooting interest in these games. I can't root for Florida State because their coach and QB annoy me; can't stand Bama on general anti-SEC principle and have never warmed to The Ohio State University. That leaves me with Oregon, so it's good to know that the school is aces when it comes to LGBT students. Go Ducks!