Universities in Florida and Texas were excluded from a national list of LGBTQ-friendly schools put together annually by Campus Pride. In presenting the 2023-2024 list this week, the nonprofit group said the exclusions were a result of new state laws that “endanger and harm LGBTQ people.”
Every year, Campus Pride, a nonprofit group that advocates for safer and more LGBTQ-friendly colleges, issues a compilation of the “Best of the Best LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges and Universities’’ and the “Absolute Worst Campuses for LGBTQ Youth.” The organization announced it had omitted the University of North Florida, the University of Central Florida, the University of Texas at Dallas and Texas Tech University from its 2023 “Best of the Best” list because “they must abide by new state laws that effectively ban LGBTQ+ inclusion programs and services.”
“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,” Shane Mendez Windmeyer, Campus Pride’s founder and CEO, said in a statement.
This year, 17 states have enacted over 30 new LGBTQ-related education laws that are slated to take effect in the 2023-24 school year, unless they are faced with legal challenges, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed into law a bill restricting how race and gender can be taught in the state’s public higher education institutions, which were also banned from using state or federal funding for diversity programs. A month later, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, also a Republican, enacted two bills that directly affect higher education institutions: One imposes restrictions on transgender athletes participating in college sports, and the other restricts diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
Campus Pride’s 2023 “Best of the Best” list is made up of 30 four-year public and private institutions from across the country that offer “exceptional LGBTQ+ programs and services.” The Campus Pride Index features a database of more than 240 additional schools that are LGBTQ-friendly.
Pride at UTD, an LGBTQ student group at the University of Texas at Dallas, issued a statement saying Campus Pride “made the right decision in removing UT Dallas from its 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. Despite the Legislature’s best efforts, we remain resilient, we remain committed to diversity, and we remain here,” the statement continued.
When asked about Campus Pride’s decision, Amanda Ennis, a spokesperson for the University of North Florida, said in an email to NBC News that the 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,” and she added that the LGBTQ Center on campus remains open as the school awaits “regulatory guidance from the Florida Board of Governors on implementation of the new legislation, as required by law.”
Representatives from the University of Central Florida, the University of Texas at Dallas and Texas Tech University did not immediately respond to requests for comment.