Regent University School of Law
When Jamie Lord found out that she had received a major scholarship to attend Regent University School of Law, she knew she couldn’t turn it down. But Jamie wasn’t raised in a religious household – and as a lesbian, she worried how she might be treated at Regent, a renowned Christian college.
She was relieved when an official from Regent told her not to worry – she didn’t need to share Regent’s religious beliefs in order to attend the school and there would be no problem with her being a lesbian. Regent, the official said, embraced diversity.
That couldn’t have been further from the truth.
In her first week of classes, Jamie quickly discovered that if she told people she is a lesbian, she would be treated differently. And in numerous classes – while her professors and peers characterized LGBTQ people as pedophiles, child molestors, undeserving of marriage and destined for hell – Jamie was terrified, as she had never witnessed such a hostile anti-LGBTQ environment before.
During her second year, a professor harassed her specifically because of her sexual orientation. At a breaking point, she met with her Dean, who suggested that Jamie talk to the professor – who he described as a loving and caring person she could talk to.
But the professor quickly explained his belief that being gay is a sin and that he did not accept LGBTQ people, including his gay brother. “A teacher told me I would go to hell for being a lesbian and that if I prayed hard enough, God would save me from my sinful ways, ” Jamie recalls.
This same professor then went on to regularly insult LGBTQ people in front of the entire class, ranting that gay people are pedophiles, that you can act straight if you try hard enough, gay marriage should not be called marriage, and gay people should not be able to adopt children. He even referred to LGBTQ people as “the gays” despite Jamie’s repeated requests that he stop.
It soon became clear that this professor wasn’t an isolated problem – but instead, representative of Regent as an institution. Jamie’s reports to administration about the anti-LGBTQ abuse she was facing went unresponded to. In fact, some administrators even reminded her that she could be kicked out of the school if she were to even bring her girlfriend to campus – citing a portion of the student handbook that prohibits dating between people of the same-sex.
Eventually, Jamie couldn’t take it anymore. Her amazing scholarship wasn’t enough to justify routinely hearing from her professors and peers that LGBTQ people like her were going to hell and that her identity was shameful. She became depressed – and felt further from God than she had ever felt.
Now, Jamie is ready to hold Regent accountable – as one of 40 plaintiffs in REAP’s lawsuit demanding that the U.S. Department of Education stops granting religious exemptions to religious schools like Regent that use federal taxpayer dollars to discriminate against and torment their LGBTQ students.
“I hope that future LGBTQ law students at Regent will be spared the abuse and terrors I faced.”
At many religious schools, colleges, and universities, LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized students suffer discrimination, abuse, isolation, and hardship. If this describes you, you are not alone. We are in this together.
REAP fights for the safety, bodily autonomy, justice, and human rights of LGBTQIA+ and other communities marginalized at many predominantly white, taxpayer-funded religious schools and colleges. Using campus organizing, storytelling through podcasting, documentary film, and speaking and preaching on campuses throughout the country, REAP empowers students, faculty, staff and alumni at these institutions to advocate for human rights, while shining a light on the dangers and abuses of a major educational pipeline of white Christian Supremacy.