Florida and Texas universities excluded from list of LGBTQ+ friendly schools
Four universities across Florida and Texas have been excluded from a list of LGBTQ+-friendly schools due to the recent passage of anti-LGBTQ+ laws in both states.
Campus Pride, a non-profit organisation that campaigns for LGBTQ+-friendly colleges and universities announced that they made the “difficult” decision to remove four schools from their list since “they must abide by new state laws that effectively ban LGBTQ+ inclusion programs and services.”
The organisation releases an annual list of the “Best of the Best LGBTQ+-Friendly Colleges and Universities” and the “Absolute Worst Campuses for LGBTQ+ Youth” ahead of the new school year.
Both states have enacted a number of bills this year that directly affect LGBTQ+ students.
Texas has, this summer, enacted Senate Bill 15 to heavily limit transgender athletes from participating in sports, and Senate Bill 17 restricts the operations of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.
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Meanwhile, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has restricted how race and gender can be taught in public higher education institutions with Senate Bill 266.
Explaining the decision in a statement, Campus Pride said: “Many campuses in Florida and Texas have previously demonstrated a commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion – in some cases, these colleges have had a long-standing commitment that earned them inclusion on previous ‘Best of the Best’ lists.
“However, the new laws will negatively impact their ability to continue to offer LGBTQ+ inclusive programs and services and to foster safe, welcoming environments for LGBTQ+ students.”
Campus Pride founder and CEO Shane Mandez Windmeyer commented: “Campus Pride stands by every campus being negatively impacted by anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the states of Florida and Texas.
“Higher education must instill values of diversity and inclusion in order to create a quality, productive workforce. The classroom must be safe, and create a welcoming academic learning environment.
“These laws are being weaponized against LGBTQ+ people, needlessly endangering the safety and well-being of students on campuses across the states of Florida and Texas. Already we are hearing from prospective students and families that they are choosing colleges elsewhere.”
A spokesperson for the University of North Florida told NBC News that their school is “committed to ensuring that all of our students, faculty, and staff have the support and resources they need to be successful personally, academically and professionally.”
They added that the university’s LGBTQ+ Centre remains open to students as they await “regulatory guidance from the Florida Board of Governors on implementation of the new legislation, as required by law.”
Meanwhile, Pride at UTD, an LGBTQ+ student group at the University of Texas told the broadcaster that they stood by Campus Pride’s decision to remove their school from the list.
“With these regressive new laws, our representatives have committed themselves to making Texas unsafe for the LGBTQ+ community, and we are deeply disappointed that UT Dallas will no longer be able to serve as a gold standard for LGBTQ+ inclusion.”
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