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Opinion: The Business Case for Equality Extends to Anti-LGBTQ Colleges

Corporations should choose not to do business with colleges and universities that choose discrimination over inclusion and diversity.
Liberty University
The campus of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Well over 150 top CEOs and businesses this past April signed onto an open letter to ask for the repeal of HB2 which sanctions outright discrimination toward LGBTQ people in the State of North Carolina and restricts municipalities from passing inclusive LGBTQ laws. The discriminatory anti-LGBTQ bill signed into law by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has caused a national uproar ever since it was passed.

Leading companies like American Express Company, AXA Financial Inc., Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Company, Bloomberg L.P., Capital One, United Airlines and Visa Inc. among others made it all but clear that HB2 does not reflect any of their business values. As the letter states: “Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in North Carolina or anywhere in our country. As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you and the leadership of North Carolina’s legislature to repeal this law…”As a result, businesses have pulled expansion plans and stopped future business and events in North Carolina. The economic disaster has been real for those living there.

The campus of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images

This past week Campus Pride released its 2016 “Shame List,” highlighting for the first time a national list of “The Absolute Worst Campuses for LGBTQ Youth.” Not unlike the disastrous HB2 law, these 102 campuses have chosen to openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth in policies, programs and practices as documented on the site listing. Many of the campuses have requested and/or applied for a Title IX exemption to discriminate legally against LGBTQ youth, while others have a demonstrated past history and track record of anti-LGBTQ actions, programs and practices.

Most people are shocked when they learn that there are college campuses still today that openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth. When you consider the statistics that show how LGBTQ youth are at high risk of harassment, discrimination, suicidality, depression as well as other negative physical and mental health harms, these campuses are dangerous places for LGBTQ youth and others.
The main entrance to the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, on Sept. 1, 2009.George Frey / Bloomberg via Getty Images

All families and youth deserve to know this information – and so do corporations who do business with these campuses. Similar to HB2 and other anti-LGBTQ laws, these 102 campuses with anti-LGBTQ policies and Title IX exemptions freely and openly discriminate in policies, programs and practices against LGBTQ young people.

So the question must be asked: What relationships do corporations want to have with a college that has applied or received a legal exemption so they can deny access to a LGBTQ young person? Do corporations want to donate to colleges that openly discriminate? Do these businesses want to hire and recruit students from a campus that has a policy restricting LGBTQ students on campus?

RELATED: 'Best of the Best' and 'Absolute Worst' Colleges for LGBTQ Students

The business case for equality is clear. If companies take pride in “being inclusive and welcoming to all” and say that “discrimination is wrong,” these same corporations must consider their associations with these 102 anti-LGBTQ campuses. Discrimination under the guise of religion is still discrimination. It is the most oppressive and hurtful kind of bias and prejudice to LGBTQ people, who have been victimized by religion-based bigotry for many years.

The harmful association with anti-LGBTQ laws and policies is cause for alarm for any business looking toward the future. If a campus wishes to have an anti-LGBTQ policy sanctioned under the law with a Title IX exemption, that is their choice. Campus Pride published the Shame List so everyone will know about these campuses.

Corporations also have a choice to exercise their values. Don’t donate to these campuses. Don’t recruit or hire at these colleges. Simply choose not to do business with those who choose discrimination over inclusion and diversity.

Shane L. Windmeyer, M.S., Ed. is a best-selling author, LGBTQ campus pioneer and civil rights champion. He is founder and executive director of Campus Pride, the leading national LGBTQ organization for student leaders and campus organizations working to build future leaders and create safer campus communities. Follow @CampusPride and @ShaneWindmeyer on Twitter. Learn more online at

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