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LGBTQ students fare better at Christian colleges, CCCU says


Researchers agree that LGBTQ students often face isolation, loneliness, and fear of assault while attending college.

But the Council For Christian Colleges & Universities insists that a comparison of two independent studies reveals that LGBTQ students have better experiences in faith-based institutions than their peers in American universities in general.

The CCCU – an international association of more than 180 Christian schools – compared data from a 2018 national analysis from Rutgers University with a recent College Pulse study commission from the Religious Exemption Accountability Project.

In March, REAP filed a class action lawsuit against the US Department of Education on behalf of 33 plaintiffs. In Hunter v US Department of Education, the plaintiffs say religious exemptions from Title IX non-discrimination requirements are unconstitutional when schools receive federal funds, such as grants or student loans. Baylor University is one of more than two dozen faith-based schools mentioned in the lawsuit.

Title IX states: “No person in the United States may, by reason of their gender, be excluded from participation, denied benefits, or be subjected to discrimination in any educational program or program. activity receiving federal financial assistance. ”

Denominational schools are allowed to seek a religious exemption from parts of Title IX to the extent that its application “would be incompatible with the religious principles of the organization”.

Organization files lawsuit requests

On May 12, the CCCU filed a petition to be an official participant in the case so that it could defend the religious protections of Title IX.

“The removal of the religious exemption in Title IX, as applied to LGBT or other students, will deprive religious colleges of the oxygen that gives them life by prohibiting them, on pain of losing federal aid for their students. , to teach and to expect to adhere to their fundamental religious beliefs, ”states the motion.

The organization also brought forward a motion to dismiss the complaint on the basis of what it called “frivolous legal claims”, while adding that it “takes student experience reports seriously.”

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“We know the college experience can be stressful, and even more so for LGBTQ students struggling to understand how their sexual orientation or gender identity intersects with their personal faith,” said CCCU President Shirley Hoogstra .

“We also know from national data that this problem is not unique to Christian colleges and that LGBTQ students face challenges at colleges and universities across the country. Research shows that in many important areas, LGBTQ students in faith-based institutions actually have better experiences than LGBTQ students in non-faith institutions.

Contacted by the Baptist Standard, REAP Director Paul Carlos Southwick said: “The two studies cannot generate an apples-to-apples comparison because they were five years apart, used different questions, and the study Rutgers appears to include both religious and non-religious campuses without disaggregating the data. But what both studies show is that LGBTQ + students experience disparities in mental and physical health on secular and religious campuses. Additionally, LGBTQ + students are protected by law and can get help on their secular campuses, while they are unprotected by law and feel powerless to get help on their non-religious campuses. affirmative.

CCCU offers a comparison

According to the CCCU comparison of the Rutgers study and the study commissioned by REAP:

  • While 4 in 10 sexual or gender minority students are ‘uncomfortable with their gender identity on campus’ in religious schools, 5 in 10 queer spectrum students and 7 in 10 trans-spectrum students do not feel not “respected” on secular public university campuses.
  • Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of sexual minority students report isolation and loneliness in religious colleges, about 18 percent more than “straight” students on those same campuses. However, nearly 8 in 10 students (79%) of the queer spectrum on public campuses report feeling “very lonely.” That’s 20% more than their heterosexual and cisgender peers on those same campuses, and it’s 15% more than their sexual minority peers in religious schools.
  • Students from sexual minorities are more likely to be physically or sexually assaulted on secular campuses versus religious campuses – 3% versus 1% for physical assault and 16.6% versus 5% for sexual assault.

When it comes to problems with depression and suicidal thoughts in sexual minority students, the two studies produced similar results. In religious and secular schools, 60% of LGBTQ students report depression. Among LGBTQ students in Christian colleges, 20% report suicidal thoughts, compared to 23.5% in secular schools.

“The similarity of these numbers is actually surprising, given that the REAP numbers for religious colleges were obtained during the pandemic, when overall levels of anxiety and depression were considerably higher than when Rutgers numbers were down. obtained in 2016 and 2017, ”reads a statement on the CCCU website.

At its last meeting, the Baylor Board of Regents passed a resolution saying that it “remains committed to extending love and grace like Christ by caring for all of our students and meeting them where they are, just like Jesus did, and by adhering to traditional Bible teaching. of the scriptures concerning human sexuality. “

Regents has opened the door to allow a new charter group to provide care and support for LGBTQ students, but the board has not changed its policy statement on human sexuality, which includes the expectation that ” Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups that promote understanding of a sexuality that is contrary to biblical teaching. “

Jason Cook, vice president of marketing and communications at Baylor, noted that the regents had spent at least two years discussing ways to meet the needs of LGBTQ students, and that the specific data cited by the CCCU “didn’t were not taken into account in the decision-making process “.

“Baylor is affiliated with CCCU and as such we support the work of the organization,” Cook added.


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