Last week, an LGBT college organization released its updated “shame list,” attacking “the absolute worst campuses for LGBTQ youth.” While the list aimed to ridicule and blacklist Christian colleges, it might also serve to point out many of the schools which have refused to bow to the LGBT agenda.
“Religion-based bigotry is careless and life-threatening,” declared Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride. “LGBTQ young people face high rates of harassment and violence, especially our trans youth and LGBTQ youth of color. The schools on this list openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth and many of these schools have requested or received Title IX exemptions for no other purpose than to discriminate, expel and ban LGBTQ youth from campus. It is shameful and wrong.”
Yet these schools are on the list for different reasons, and it is exaggerating to say that they have “openly discriminated” against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. There are three major reasons why schools make it on the list: they have applied for a religious exemption to Title IX, they have opposed an anti-religious freedom California law, or they have hosted ex-gay speakers. Two of them had events that might suggest discrimination, but only one of these was not a one-off event.
The vast majority of schools on the shame list have applied for a religious exemption to Title IX of the 1972 Education Act in the years between 2009 and 2016, according to the Department of Education. Title IX, originally introduced to ban discrimination in education, has been “transformed into a bureaucratic structure consisting of policies, procedures, and organization forms that regulate conduct” between 1972 and 2011, according to Harvard professors Jacob Gerson and Jeannie Suk.
The Department of Education has defined “sexual discrimination” to mean everything from “sexual violence” to an unwillingness to accept lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ideas and practices. Obama’s Department of Justice has ruled that bathroom laws requiring biological males and biological females to use the bathroom according to their birth sex violates Title IX. In light of this, religious exemptions may prove vital to enable Christian colleges to affirm the doctrine that God made humans male and female, and that His design for biological sex is good.
Nevertheless, LGBT groups like Campus Pride argue that organizations that act according to biblical principles which oppose LGBT ideology are somehow discriminatory by their very nature. Even requesting a religious exemption to Title IX is enough to condemn these institutions, in the eyes of Campus Pride.
Ironically, it is Campus Pride which seems discriminatory, listing two colleges merely for inviting ex-gay speakers to their chapel events. Wheaton College in Illinois and Grove City College in Pennsylvania had speakers who were once part of the LGBT movement but decided to leave that life behind. Attendance at the chapel services is mandatory at Wheaton and Grove City, but penalizing an entire college for inviting one speaker still seems a bit extreme. Then again, ex-gay people are living, breathing proof that homosexuality can be rejected. The answer shouldn’t be to blacklist anyone who welcomes them, however.
Next Page: The one college which might deserve shame, and the fight for religious freedom.
Brigham Young University made the list due to reports that the school’s opposition to homosexuality drives LGBT people into hiding, and that this fear fosters an underground gay community in which some have sexually abused and raped victims. Those victims are afraid to come forward, because the school punishes homosexual behavior. This does sound like a huge problem, and the school may need to take steps to allow such victims to come forward. In this case, the university’s presence on the list seems warranted.
But the other college shamed for a unique event, Andrews University, merely had a disagreement with a local student group over a bake sale last year. The student organization AULL4One, an unofficial gay-straight alliance on campus, organized a fundraiser to help LGBT homeless youth in Chicago. AULL4One is not sanctioned by the school, so it needed to hold the event under the auspices of an official school entity, and Campus Ministries stepped into that void. The college ended up delaying the event indefinitely, so the organization went online. As of press time, it has raised over $17,000.
The delay of the fundraiser was perhaps regrettable, but Andrews University wanted to make sure it did not appear to endorse LGBT issues, and that concern is warranted in the Christian community. Moreover, the eventual success of the project suggests that the college need not have been involved.
Finally, the shame list includes multiple colleges which have lobbied against California Senate Bill 1146, which would have forced Christian higher education institutions to adopt LGBT anti-discrimination policies (or lose state funding) and to publicize their Title IX exemptions. Such anti-discrimination policies would force the colleges to effectively condone sexual identities and practices which contradict the Bible. As such, it would clearly violate their religious freedom. The bill was amended to only force publication of the exemption, after pressure from religious colleges and universities.
For fighting this attack on their religious freedom, the colleges have been blacklisted by Campus Pride, and according to one First Amendment lawyer, they will likely be put on a “watch list” as a result of the amended legislation.
Campus Pride created its list “for purposes of calling out the harmful and shameful acts of religion-based prejudice and bigotry.” Instead, they have merely revealed their own biases against religious freedom, the free speech of ex-gay people, and the ability of religious organizations to operate according to their beliefs. While one school may deserve temporary shame for a serious issue, most of them have been unfairly characterized by this LGBT organization.
Campus Pride calls the schools it aims to shame “not loving, welcoming, safe spaces to live, learn and grow,” but it is fighting against the very possibility for religious colleges to offer such a “safe space” for Bible believers. Parents should consider this list a testament to each of these schools, that they are willing to fight for religious freedom and their ability to operate according to their beliefs. Perhaps this suggests a certain religious “pride” which should be considered a selling point, not a liability.