AUSTIN (KXAN) — An LGBTQ advocacy organization featured Baylor University and 16 other colleges in Texas on its ignominious list of the “most unsafe” places in the country for these students.

Campus Pride, a nonprofit that works to create better environments for LGBTQ students in colleges and universities, released its 2021 Worst List on Monday, which identified 180 campuses across the U.S. as “the absolute worst, most unsafe campuses for LGBTQ youth.” The organization’s list included mostly religious-affiliated institutions and criticized them for what it argued is a lack of support and protections for LGBTQ students.

In a press release Monday, the organization stated, “The colleges and universities included in this year’s list have either received or applied for a Title IX religious exemption to openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth, or they have a demonstrated history of anti-LGBTQ policies, programs and practices.”

Within Central Texas specifically, Baylor University in Waco and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton made it onto the list.

As part of the explanation for its inclusion on the Worst List, Campus Pride stated Baylor is cited in a federal class action lawsuit filed earlier this year, where two of the university’s LGBTQ students claim there’s a culture of unacceptance and a lack of support.

A 19-year-old plaintiff who attends Baylor and identified herself as queer in the lawsuit said she is “harassed online and on campus by other Baylor students because of her sexuality.” She claimed the university did not respond to her complaints about this happening. Another plaintiff, who said in the lawsuit he’s bisexual, said Baylor has yet to recognize Gamma Alpha Upsilon, an LGBTQ support group for Baylor students, as an official organization on campus.

However, the Baylor Lariat, the student-run newspaper, reported in September that the leaders of Gamma Alpha Upsilon announced they’ll no longer seek that recognition from the university. That’s because the Baylor Board of Regents approved a resolution in May charging administrators to look into creating a new student group for this population.

“As a Board of Regents, we recognize that Baylor’s LGBTQ students continue to seek care,
connections, and community on our campus and a sense of belonging within the Baylor Family,” the resolution stated. “As an important and faithful expression of our Christian mission, we desire to establish trust with our LGBTQ students so that, among other things, they might seek out the resources provided by Baylor.”

KXAN reached out Monday afternoon to Baylor for further comment but has not received a response yet.

According to Campus Pride, the list also included the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor this year because it has a specific Title IX exemption that the organization says allows “the college to discriminate against its students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, pregnancy or receipt of abortion while still receiving federal funds.” Representatives from the university have not responded yet to a request for comment.

The other colleges and universities from Texas on the Worst List included:

  • Abilene Christian University (Abilene)
  • Arlington Baptist University (Arlington)
  • Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary (Jacksonville)
  • College of Biblical Studies (Houston)
  • Criswell College (Dallas)
  • Dallas Baptist University (Dallas)
  • Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas)
  • East Texas Baptist University (Marshall)
  • Hardin-Simmons University (Abilene)
  • Houston Baptist University (Houston)
  • Howard Payne University (Brownwood)
  • Southwestern Assemblies of God University (Waxahachie)
  • Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Fort Worth)
  • University of Dallas (Irving)
  • Wayland Baptist University (Plainview)