An LGBTQ nonprofit on Monday released its annual list of the worst, naming 180 colleges and universities as “the worst and most dangerous campuses for LGBTQ youth.”

Campus Pride, which advocates for LGBTQ inclusiveness and safety in U.S. colleges and universities, has added 50 universities to the list since last year – the most comprehensive update since the list began in 2015, according to the organization.

The list includes colleges and universities that have received or requested a religious exemption under Title IX, a federal law that protects students from discrimination in federally funded schools, or that have “a demonstrated history of policies, programs and anti-LGBTQ practices ”. according to a press release.

With 180 schools, the list is the longest in its six years of existence.

“These aren’t just bad campuses or the worst campuses – these campuses are inherently dangerous for LGBTQ students and, therefore, they are inherently dangerous for all students,” Shane Windmeyer, founder and executive director of Campus Pride, says . “They promote an environment of hostility, discrimination, harassment towards a group of people, and who wants – when you’re trying to be educated – to have that kind of negative learning environment? “

The University of the Pacific in Seattle first made the list of the worst universities for gay students.Mat Hayward File / Getty Images

Windmeyer said part of the reason this year’s list update was important is due to the Trump administration’s changes 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 this rule so that religious schools are automatically exempt from Title IX, which allowed them to continue to receive federal funds while enforcing, for example, a rule that prohibits students from having relationships homosexual or homosexual.

The Trump administration has also stopped posting an online list of schools that have requested a Title IX exemption. Campus Pride referred to this list when creating their worst list.

Windmeyer said the Biden administration has republished previous lists of schools that have requested religious exemptions from Title IX, but it has not clarified or changed the Trump administration’s policy of rescinding the candidacy requirement.

Before Biden took office, Campus Pride relied on student reports and newspaper articles, Windmeyer said. This year, the group used the list of schools that have requested exemptions from 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 did not protect LGBTQ employees from discrimination. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the employees.

Windmeyer said Campus Pride also included the 29 religious colleges and universities named in a class action lawsuit against the Department of Education alleging that the religious exemption is unconstitutional and allows religious schools that receive federal funds to discriminate against women. LGBTQ students.

“Religious organizations and colleges were emboldened during the Trump administration,” said Windmeyer, who noted that the 180 schools on the list this year are religiously affiliated. “Biden has yet to clarify whether the Title IX exemptions are mandatory or whether he has an executive order that will make them mandatory, which in my opinion is if a campus openly discriminates it should be mandatory to say so.” to students. and that they have a Title IX exemption on file with the federal government. “

The worst list is alphabetically rather than ranked, but some schools are listed more often than others.

David Shill, a 22-year-old at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, said he was not surprised his school was back on the list because “things haven’t changed. “.

BYU, which belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, prohibits gay dating. Although it does not specifically mention transgender students in the student manual, the church advises against medical transition for trans people; otherwise, they face restricted church participation or even excommunication.

Shill, the chairman of BYU Pride, which is not officially endorsed or recognized by the university, said homophobia is “generally assumed” on campus. He mentioned a video taken in August in which a student disfigures pro-LGBTQ chalk art on the BYU campus and uses an anti-gay slang. In March, when around 40 students illuminated the iconic 380-foot-high “Y” on the mountain east of campus with rainbow lights, Shill said LGBTQ students faced to cyberbullying.

“My first week back on campus, I really felt like, wow, I’m never going to be in my place here,” Shill said. “And just to see heterosexual couples being couples on campus and enjoying holding hands or hugging … that, coupled with the attitudes of some of my teachers and classmates, all day long is was difficult to be here. “

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

A number of schools are first on the list, including Seattle Pacific University, a private Christian university named in the Department of Education class action lawsuit. Affirm, a group of SPU students, alumni, faculty and staff dedicated to ending anti-LGBTQ policies and culture in college, began organizing in the spring. in response to the university’s involvement in two lawsuits – the class action lawsuit and a lawsuit brought by a teacher in April who says he was denied a full-time job because he is gay.

In an emailed statement to NBC News, Affirm members said they were “saddened but not surprised” by the addition of SPU to the 2021 worst list.

“For an institution that presents our community as a place promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the name of the love of Christ, this sobering call from Campus Pride tells us unequivocally how we have failed,” Affirm members said. “We need to rebuild our existing campus structures, remove discriminatory university policies and foster new spaces where LGBTQ +, BIPOC and AAPI people are welcomed and celebrated for the invaluable gifts they bring to our community.”

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, Karyn Collie, associate professor of biology at Malone, announced that she will be leaving college because she will marry a woman next summer. She told the Canton Repository that she hoped she and the school could find a way for her to stay employed, but was instead asked to quit. When she was hired, she signed on to a set of principles called community responsibilities, which prohibits same-sex activity, according to the repository.

Collie was a popular teacher, and the news prompted a backlash from students, including a sit-in at a weekly worship service, the Repository reported.

A representative for Malone did not return a request for comment, but Malone President David King told the Repository that Collie was not the first professor to leave due to a conflict with the community responsibilities of the ‘university. He also said that only employees are supposed to respect them, and students are not.

“All students are welcome here, regardless of their background, whether they have a faith journey or not,” King said.

But Campus Pride points out on its worst list that the school’s community agreement for sexual conduct, to which all members of the Malone community agree, states that “sex should be exclusively for the marital relationship, including as a lifelong legal commitment between a husband and a wife.

Windmeyer said he hopes the Biden administration will require all campuses to seek the religious exemption from Title IX. “I think that’s the bare minimum that our federal government can do to protect these LGBTQ youth,” Windmeyer said. “The president says, ‘trans people, gay people, LGBTQ people, we support you. Well you have to start here with our LGBTQ youth.

Many students, like Shill at BYU, don’t want to leave and think their schools can improve. He said BYU Pride is working with the university to change the honor code so that gay students can date, and the group is encouraging the university to develop a discrimination office that students and faculty can go to when. ‘they are discriminated against.

The group would also like to be able to have queer activities on campus, or put rainbow lights on the “Y” without approval. “That sort of thing like where BYU doesn’t shut us down anymore and pushes us off campus,” he said. “Let’s come to campus and be as gay as we want without having to hide everything.”

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