BYU and nearly 200 religious colleges deemed ‘unsafe’ for LGBTQ students

The nonprofit group Campus Pride “envisions campuses and a society free of anti-LGBTQ prejudice, bigotry and hate.”

(Isaac Hale | Special to The Tribune) A Brigham Young University student chats with a friend as she sports various rainbow-colored items in support of Rainbow Day on the campus of BYU in Provo on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

Dozens of religious universities across the country, including Brigham Young University and Seattle Pacific University, were listed as unsafe and discriminatory campuses for LGBTQ students by Campus Pride, a national organization advocating for inclusive colleges and universities.

Fewer than 10 of the 193 schools on the list, released Thursday, were not religiously affiliated or did not list a religious affiliation, according to Campus Pride.

Campus Pride, which began in 2002 as an online community and became a nonprofit in 2006, said it launched the national listing in 2015 to bring attention to colleges and universities that requested Title IX exemptions against LGBTQ students.

Among the campuses that made “The Worst List:” Azusa Pacific University, an interdenominational Christian school in Southern California; Baylor University, a Baptist school in Waco, Texas; George Fox University, a Quaker institution in Newberg, Ore.; Yeshiva University, a modern Orthodox Jewish school in New York City; and Liberty University, a Baptist institution in Lynchburg, Va.

Many of the schools made the list for claiming an exemption to Title IX and for “allowing the college to discriminate against its students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, pregnancy or receipt of abortion while still receiving federal funds.”

More than 120 schools were listed as exempt from Title IX.

Other schools in California qualified for the list due to their opposition to a state bill that targets private universities exempted from anti-discrimination laws. The schools argue compliance would conflict with their religious tenets, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Campus Pride envisions campuses and a society free of anti-LGBTQ+ prejudice, bigotry and hate,” Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, said in a statement on Twitter. “The growing anti-LGBTQ+ attacks on youth across the country makes the release of #TheWorstList even more crucial and timely.”

(Trevor Christensen | Special to The Tribune) LGBTQ supporters protest on the edge of Brigham Young University's Provo campus in 2021.

The list is published as schools like BYU, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Seattle Pacific University, a private Chrisitan liberal arts college, have faced backlash from students protesting policies they say are discriminatory toward LGBTQ people.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson in late July confirmed his office was investigating Seattle Pacific for potential illegal discrimination against LGBTQ people due to the school’s employment policies. The investigation came as  students staged a monthlong sit-in to protest the board of trustees’ decision to keep a policy barring the hiring of LGBTQ people.

“Until students can see themselves represented in their professors, SPU cannot be considered a safe space for LGBTQ+ students,”  an Instagram statement from Seattle Pacific LGBTQ+ Protest said.