Editor's Note: Due to inaccurate information provided by Campus Pride, this story originally included the University of Saint Francis – Fort Wayne on the list of unsafe campuses for LGBTQ youth. According to records from the U.S. Department of Education, the university has not applied for a Title IX religious exemption, and Campus Pride has removed Saint Francis from its list. WRTV regrets the error.
INDIANAPOLIS — Three Indiana colleges have been deemed some of the worst universities in the country for LGBTQ students.
Campus Pride, a nonprofit LGBTQ advocacy group, released its annual findings of "the absolute worst, most unsafe campuses for LGBTQ youth" earlier this week.
The nonprofit states its 2021 Worst List is the longest its been since 2016, with 180 colleges.
According to Campus Pride, the colleges and universities listed have received or applied for a Title IX religious exemption "to openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth," or have a history of "anti-LGBTQ policies, programs and practices."
Three of the Indiana universities on Campus Pride's Worst List are:
- Indiana Wesleyan University (Marion)
- Taylor University (Upland)
- Bethel University (Mishawaka)
All of the Indiana colleges on the list qualified for the 2021 Worst List, according to Campus Pride, because it holds an exemption to Title IX.
Exemption to Title IX, granted by the U.S. Department of Education, allows colleges to discriminate against their students based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, pregnancy, or receipt of abortion. These institutions are granted an exemption while still receiving federal funds.
Indiana Wesleyan University perhaps is the college with the lengthiest history in Indiana for alleged discrimination and hate against LGBTQ students.
In March, the Religious Exemption Accountability Project, or REAP, filed a lawsuit against nearly 30 colleges or universities, including Indiana Wesleyan, on behalf of current or former LGBTQ students for the abuse they say they endured at the colleges. This is the second lawsuit Indiana Wesleyan has been involved in, according to Campus Pride.
The abuses alleged in the class action lawsuit — Hunter v. the U.S. Department of Education — includes conversion therapy, expulsion, denial of housing and health care, sexual and physical abuse, harassment, institutionalized shame and more.
REAP states that through the lawsuit, they're seeking to stop the Department of Education from granting religious exemptions to tax-payer-funded colleges and universities.
"This is the most exhaustive update to our annual 'Worst List' since 2016, with more than 50 new campuses added this year in part because of the lack of updates in filing procedures since the Trump Administration's Department of Education told campuses they did not have to apply for Title IX religious exemptions to openly discriminate against LGBTQ people," Shane Windmeyer, the founder and executive director of Campus Pride, wrote on the nonprofit's website. "The Biden Administration has yet to clarify this DOE memo or mandate that a campus must apply for Title IX to discriminate based on religious beliefs."
WRTV has reached out to each of the Indiana universities listed in Campus Pride's report for comment. WRTV will update this article if the newsroom receives a response from any of the three campuses.