A warning for all of us

Campus Pride has served students and higher education for more than 20 years. According to its website, “Campus Pride represents the leading national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students.” Each year since 2007, the organization conducts the Campus Pride Index, which gives prospective college students insight into LGBTQ+-friendly campuses.

This year, there is one major change we should all take note of. Due to the unhealthy atmosphere in Florida and Texas, Campus Pride removed colleges and universities that were previously listed as LGBTQ+-friendly in the past. These include the University of North Florida, the University of Central Florida, the University of Texas at Dallas and Texas Tech University. In a statement, Campus Pride noted that “The inevitable — and intended — consequence of these laws will be to eliminate the types of LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices that we ask about and evaluate on the Campus Pride Index.”

The statement continued: “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.”

This might seem drastic, but it should be stated that by doing this, Campus Pride highlights how each of us is impacted by the actions of state governments and the antigay actions they take. 

Campus Pride is on point. Many students might find a welcoming attitude at school, but what happens once you leave? No one wants to be a prisoner of their campus. 

And what about while on campus and attending classes? Shane Mendez Windmeyer — the founder, CEO and executive director of Campus Pride — told Diverse Issues in Higher Education that “New laws in Texas and Florida effectively require colleges and universities in those states to cease LGBTQ+ inclusive programs, services and policies. 

“Students and families must exercise caution in choosing to go to college on any public Florida or Texas campus,” Windmeyer said. “New state laws endanger and harm LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender students, and create hostile and unwelcoming learning environments for all students.”

This is a warning both to students and to all of us.

This article was originally published by our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News on August 29, 2023.

Mark Segal is an American journalist. He is the founder and publisher of Philadelphia Gay News and has won numerous journalism awards for his column "Mark My Words," including best column by The National Newspaper Association, Suburban Newspaper Association and The Society of Professional Journalists.