180 colleges in ‘worst list’ that are ‘unsafe’ for LGBTQ students

LGBTQ nonprofit released Monday Its annual worst list Designating 180 colleges and universities as “the worst, most unsafe campuses for LGBTQ youth.”

Campus Pride, which advocates for LGBTQ inclusivity and safety in US colleges and universities, added 50 universities to the list since last year — the most comprehensive update since the list debuted in 2015, according to the organization.

The list includes colleges and universities that have either applied for or applied for religious exemptions to Title IX, a federal law that protects students from discrimination in federally funded schools, or “anti-LGBTQ policies, programs”. and a demonstrated history of practices”. According to a news release.

At 180 schools, this list is the longest in its six-year history.

“These aren’t just the worst campuses or the worst campuses – these campuses are fundamentally unsafe for LGBTQ students, and as a result, they are fundamentally unsafe for all students,” said Shane Windmeyer, campus founder and executive director. Pride said. “They foster an environment of hostility, discrimination, harassment toward a group of people, and who wants – when you’re trying to be educated – to have that type of negative learning environment?”

Seattle Pacific University lists the worst colleges for gay students for the first time.Matt Hayward/Getty Images File

Windmeyer said the update to this year’s list was significant because of the changes the Trump administration made to the Title IX religious exemption process. Under President Barack Obama, religious schools were required to submit a letter explaining why they needed a Title IX exemption. The Trump Administration Changed That Rule So Religious Schools was automatically waived From Title IX, which allowed them to continue to receive federal funding, for example, enacting a rule that prohibited students from having same-sex sex or engaging in same-sex relationships.

The Trump administration has also stopped publishing an online list of schools that have requested exemptions from Title IX. Campus Pride mentioned that list when making its list of its worst.

Windmeyer said the Biden administration has republished previous lists of schools that applied for Title IX religious exemptions, but it did not clarify the Trump administration’s policy or undo the application requirement.

Windmeyer said that before Biden took office, campus pride relied on student reports and news articles. This year, the group used a list of schools that requested exemptions in Title IX and court documents.

In 2019, 41 campuses filed an amicus brief In Bostock v Clayton County in support of employers who argued that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect LGBTQ employees from discrimination. The Supreme Court favored the employees.

Windmeyer said that Campus Pride also includes 29 religious colleges and universities. named in a class action lawsuit allegations against the Department of Education that the religious exemption is unconstitutional and that it allows religious schools to receive federal funding for discriminating against LGBTQ students.

“Religious organizations and colleges were encouraged during the Trump administration,” said Windmeyer, who said all 180 schools on the list this year are religiously affiliated. “Biden hasn’t clarified yet whether Title IX exemptions are mandatory or if he has an executive order that’s going to make them mandatory, which I think is openly discriminatory if a campus Must be mandatory that they tell students and they have Title IX exemptions on file with the federal government.”

The worst list is in alphabetical order rather than ranked, but some schools have appeared on it more often than others.

David Shill, 22, a junior at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, said he’s not surprised his school is on the list again because “things haven’t changed.”

BYU, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, forbids same-sex dating. Although it does not specifically mention transgender students in the student handbook, the church advises against medical transition to trans people; otherwise they face restricted participation in church or even the exclusion.

Schill, president of BYU Pride, which is not officially endorsed or recognized by the university, said homophobia is “commonly perceived” on campus. He referred to a video taken in August in which a student defaced pro-LGBTQ chalk art on BYU’s campus and Uses an anti-gay slur. In March, when about 40 students lit a 380-foot-high “Y” with rainbow lights on a mountain east of campus, Sheil said LGBTQ students faced cyberbullying.

“My first week on campus I really felt like, Wow, I’ll never be here,” Sheil said. “And just like watching straight couples being couples on campus and holding hands or hugging … which coupled with the behavior of some of my professors and classmates, just being here all day, was hard.”

A representative for BYU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Several schools are on the list for the first time, including Seattle Pacific University, a private Christian university named in a class action lawsuit against the Department of Education. Affirm, a group of SPU students, alumni, faculty, and staff dedicated to ending anti-LGBTQ policies and culture at the university, launched the event in the spring in response to the university’s involvement in two lawsuits — one brought by class action and one. a suit teacher in april Says he was denied a full-time job Because he’s gay.

In a statement emailed to NBC News, Affirm members said they are “saddened but not surprised” by SPU’s inclusion on its list of the worst of 2021.

“For an organization that advertises our community as a place promoting diversity, equality and inclusion in the name of the love of Christ, this solemn call from Campus Pride tells us in no uncertain terms how we fail. have happened,” Affirm members said. “We must rebuild our existing campus infrastructure, remove discriminatory university policies, and promote new places where LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and AAPI people are welcomed and celebrated for the priceless gifts our community has brought.” Is.”

A representative for SPU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Malone University in Canton, Ohio is also on the list for the first time.

This month, Karen Cooley, an associate biology professor at Malone, announced that she will be leaving university because she is marrying a woman next summer. He said Canton Repository that she was hoping that she and the school could find a way to hire her, but was instead asked to resign. When she was hired, she signed a set of principles called Community Responsibility, which prohibits homosexual activity, according to the repository.

Koli was a popular professor, and the news sparked a reaction from students, including a sit-in during the weekly worship service, the repository reported.

A representative for Malone has not returned a request for comment, but Malone’s president, David King, told the Repository that Cooley is not the first professor to leave because of conflicts with the university’s community responsibilities. He also said that only employees are expected to follow them, and that students are not.

“All students are welcome here, whatever their story, their faith journey or not,” King said.

But Campus Pride lists its worst as the school’s community agreement for sexual conduct, to which all members of the Malone community commit themselves, states that “sex should be reserved exclusively for matrimonial relations, understood as a legal, lifelong commitment between husband and wife.”

Windmeyer said he expects the Biden administration to mandate that all campuses apply for a Title IX religious exemption. “I think our federal government is doing the very least we can to protect these LGBTQ youths,” Windmeyer said. “The president says, ‘Trans people, queer people, LGBTQ people, we’ve got your back.’ Well, you need to start here with our LGBTQ youth.”

Many students, such as Schill at BYU, do not want to leave and think their schools can become better. He said BYU is working with the university to change the Pride honor code so that queer students can date, and the group is encouraging the university to develop a discrimination office where students and faculty can experience discrimination. .

The group wants to be able to queue up activities on campus, or put a rainbow light on the “Y” without approval. “Things like that BYU is no longer silencing us, and kicking us off campus,” he said. “Let’s come on campus and be as gay as we want to be without hiding it all.”

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