An LGBTQ advocacy organization has identified the 180 “absolute worst, most unsafe campuses for LGBTQ youth” — adding 50 more to its list since last year.
Campus Pride, which works to create inclusive environments for queer students, started the annual “Worst List” in 2015.
This year’s list is by far the most exhaustive in the organization’s six-year history, Campus Pride founder Shane Windmeyer said. The reasons, he added, can be attributed to changes in the Title IX religious exemption process made by the former Trump administration.
In 2010, the Obama administration’s Title IX protections — a federal statute that prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sex”— ensured that LGBTQ people were also not discriminated against in education programs. The Trump administration rescinded that policy, leaving an estimated 100,000 LGBTQ students without civil rights protections.
“These aren’t just bad campuses or the worst campuses — these campuses fundamentally are unsafe for LGBTQ students,” Windmeyer told NBC. “They promote an environment of hostility, of 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?”
“Shameful mentions” in this year’s list include Baylor University, Lee University, College of the Ozarks, Malone University, and Brigham Young University (BYU). These institutions are either involved in class-action lawsuits pertaining to queer rights abuse or have a demonstrated history of homophobia and discrimination.
Mormon-owned BYU, for example, forbids same-sex relationships. Former school President Elder Jeffrey Holland denounced LGBTQ students and criticized one graduate for coming out during his commencement speech. He also suggested that BYU professors should use “musket fire” to counter LGBTQ ideology. The university also fired an adjunct professor for supporting LGBTQ rights on Facebook.
Others, such as Lee University, promote employment discrimination against gay and transgender employees, while one of Baylor’s campuses has featured in the class action lawsuit, Hunter v. the U.S. Department of Education, for abuses of LGBTQ students.
Malone University in Ohio is on the list for the first time owing to its treatment of an associate biology professor who announced that she would step down from her position because she was marrying a woman. The university responded with an email to the student body, saying, “sex should be exclusively reserved for the marriage relationship, understood as a legal, lifelong commitment between a husband and wife.”
Windmeyer hopes the Biden administration will mandate that every campus in the country apply for a Title IX exemption, something religious schools do not have to do at the moment. Of this year’s Campus Pride list, all 180 schools are religiously affiliated, Windmeyer noted. There is “a lot more work to do as we develop and train future leaders to create safer, more inclusive communities on campuses,” he said.
For a complete list of the 180 colleges, visit www.campuspride.org/worstlist.