Eight Carolinas colleges included on 'Shame List' for LGBT discrimination

Published: Aug. 29, 2016 at 4:23 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - Charlotte-based Campus Pride, one of the nation's leading advocates for LGBT college students, released its annual Shame List Monday, highlighting "The Absolute Worst Campuses for LGBTQ Youth." Eight Carolinas colleges are on it.

In all, the national listing includes 102 campuses that Campus Pride says openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth in policies, programs and practices as documented on the site listing. In nearly every case, the Carolinas colleges included are religious-based.

Among the eight Carolinas colleges are Charlotte Christian and Theological Seminary, which Campus Pride says has applied for an exemption to Title IX in order to discriminate against its students on the bases of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, pregnancy or receipt of abortion while still receiving federal funds.

Belmont Abbey College in Gaston County, also qualified for the Shame List because it holds an exemption to Title IX, allowing the college to discriminate against its students on the basis of gender identity while still receiving federal funds, said Campus Pride.

Other Carolinas colleges included: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.; Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C.; Anderson University in Anderson, S.C.; Charleston Southern University in Charleston, S.C.; North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C. and Southern Wesleyan University in Central, S.C.

The full list and reasons colleges were included can be found CampusPride.org/ShameList.

It is being released at the height of an ongoing national debate over North Carolina's House Bill 2, a law passed earlier this year that negated all city nondiscrimination ordinances in the state, many of which offered civil rights protections for LGBT people. Among the most hotly debated issues connected to the law is whether transgender people should have access to the restroom of their gender identity while out in public, including institutions of higher learning. HB2 forbids that accommodation.

"Most people are shocked when they learn that there are college campuses still today that openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth. It is an unspoken secret in higher education, how they use religion as a tool for cowardice and discrimination," said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride.

"This lists uncovers the religion-based bigotry that is harmful and perpetuated against LGBTQ youth on these campuses."

The Shame List was first published online December 1, 2015 as a way to highlight 57 campuses who had received or requested Title IX exemptions to freely and openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth. At that time, the campuses applying for these discriminatory waivers did so privately, Campus Pride says. It was not public information. According to Campus Pride, often times even faculty, staff and students did not know.

"I attended Westmont College in California. While they have not applied for a Title IX waiver, it is clear that their past and current policies and practices are anti-LGBTQ," said Donald Scherschligt, a campus organizer working on the list with Campus Pride.

"Nobody should have to live my experience. I hope this listing will help colleges like Westmont realize the future is one of inclusion, especially within higher education. We need to call out these shameful acts."

Since then, the United States Department of Education has published online the letters of campuses related to Title IX exemptions. Campus Pride said in a press release that it spent the last six months compiling a database and researching all public records related to anti-LGBTQ policies, programs and practices at these campuses.

The criterion to be the "absolute worst" campus includes either of the following: 1) Received and/or applied for a Title IX exemption to discriminate against LGBTQ youth and/or, 2) Demonstrated past history and track record of anti-LGBTQ actions, programs and practices.

"Ultimately these campuses are dangerous for vulnerable LGBTQ youth and others. All families and youth deserve to know this information – and so do corporations who do business with these campuses – from those who hire and recruit, vendors who contract food service, sell books, make donations and in any other way provides goods or services to a college or university," Windmeyer said in a statement.

This is the first-time Campus Pride has released a listing of the worst anti-LGBTQ campuses across the country. Every year Campus Pride releases a "Best of the Best" listing highlighting college campuses with the most inclusive LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices.

Campus Pride is the leading national educational organization for LGBTQ and ally college students and campus groups building future leaders and safer, more LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. The organization provides resources and services to thousands of college students and nearly 1400 campuses annually. Learn more online at CampusPride.org.