Respect Diversity + Inclusion

LGBTQ+ advocacy group releases list of ‘worst’ college campuses for queer students

"It's critical that we boldly call out and push back on schools with anti-LGBTQ+ policies at every level of community,” one Seattle Pacific University graduate student said.
The band Suit Up Soldier performs as part of the RaYnbow Collective’s Back to School Pride Night for BYU students at Kiwanis Park in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, with counter-protesters in the background. Protesters including Brigham Young University students yelled homophobic slurs and taunted LGBTQ students and their supporters during an off campus gathering. (Francisco Kjolseth /The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

Story at a glance

  • The number of college and university campuses in the U.S. deemed “unsafe” for LGBTQ+ students jumped to 193 in 2022, according to the nonprofit organization Campus Pride.

  • The group on Thursday released its annual “Worst List” of American educational institutions with policies considered harmful to LGBTQ+ students.

  • Thirteen campuses were added to the “Worst List” this year for either receiving or applying for an exemption from Title IX, for refusing federal funding so as to not be bound by Title IX or for enacting policies that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, according to Campus Pride.

Nearly 200 colleges and universities in the U.S. have policies in place that perpetuate harms against their LGBTQ+ students, the nonprofit Campus Pride said Thursday in releasing its 2022 “Worst List,” a record of campuses considered risky for queer students to attend.

Thirteen colleges and universities were added to the group’s annual ranking, bringing the total number of campuses deemed “unsafe” for LGBTQ+ youth to 193.

To appear on Campus Pride’s “Worst List,” a college or university must have applied for or received an exemption to Title IX, which prohibits educational institutions that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex. A school must also have a “demonstrated past history” of actions, programs or policies that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, according to Campus Pride.

Three campuses were added to this year’s “Worst List” because they requested new Title IX exemptions that would allow “open discrimination toward LGBTQ+ people,” Campus Pride said Thursday, and five were added because they chose not to uphold Title IX protections toward any student by refusing federal funding.

America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.

Another five schools made the list after reports surfaced from students or media outlets of anti-LGBTQ+ handbook policies.

Nearly two-thirds of campuses this year that were also included on last year’s “Worst List” had expanded anti-LGBTQ+ actions or policies, according to Campus Pride.

Schools including Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah and Yeshiva University in New York made the group’s annual list for recent efforts to curtail LGBTQ+ students’ ability to express themselves freely or speak openly about their identities.

Officials at BYU, a private university operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently removed LGBTQ+ resource pamphlets from welcome packages intended for incoming students. The school was briefly the subject of an Education Department probe in January into a controversial policy that bans same-sex relationships on campus.

That investigation was dropped after less than a month, with department officials claiming BYU is entitled to a number of exemptions from Title IX because of its religious affiliation. Same-sex marriage is not recognized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and while the church does not believe that same-sex attraction in and of itself is a sin, it does believe that acting on that attraction is.

In August, Yeshiva University filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court to block a lower court’s order that requires the university to officially recognize an LGBTQ+ student group.

The school in its request said recognizing the group would go against its values as a “deeply religious Jewish university.”

Neither BYU nor Yeshiva University responded to Changing America’s request for comment.

Also making Campus Pride’s “Worst List” this year are Seattle Pacific University (SPU) in Washington state, Lincoln Christian University in Illinois and Patrick Henry College in Virginia, whose founder, Michael P. Farris, serves as president and chief executive of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal organization accused by the Southern Poverty Law Center of being a hate group for its views on LGBTQ+ issues and identities. (The group has contested that designation).

“It’s critical that we boldly call out and push back on schools with anti-LGBTQ+ policies at every level of community,” Chloe Guillot, a graduate student at SPU, where she also received her bachelor’s degree, said Thursday in a statement released by Campus Pride.

In June, Guillot joined dozens of other SPU graduating seniors in handing small rainbow flags to the university’s interim president to protest a campuswide policy that prohibits staff members from engaging in consensual “same-sex sexual activity.”

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) in July announced his office had been investigating the Christian university for “potential illegal discrimination” in its hiring practices, prompting SPU to file a federal lawsuit that claimed the probe violated the school’s First Amendment rights.

Guillot on Thursday said queer students at SPU have been organizing “for years” against the administration’s policies, which she said are intended to marginalize LGBTQ+ voices on a campus that is “overwhelmingly demanding change.”

“It’s important that people see what’s happening at Seattle Pacific University and other schools on Campus Pride’s Worst List so we can come together, identify and name transgressions, and take action to pave the way to a better future where LGBTQ+ students and employees are safe on every campus,” she said.

Another tool created by Campus Pride – the “Campus Pride Index” – gives prospective students and their families access to a database of queer-friendly campuses that have made a concerted effort to improve the academic experience and quality of life for all of their students and faculty.