The Equality Act is proposed legislation that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression under federal law in public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.
The bill’s current form ensures strong protections for LGBTQ students attending religious colleges – ensuring that no institution is permitted to claim religious exemptions in order to discriminate against its LGBTQ students while still receiving taxpayer money.
However, there are some that seek to water down the Equality Act – by inserting language that would specifically allow these institutions to harm their LGBTQ students in the name of religion.
As lawmakers consider this monumental civil rights legislation, it is vital that they hear the real, heartbreaking stories of LGBTQ students who have faced discrimination, trauma and abuse at the hands of religious colleges.
Through the stories of our plaintiffs – and our ongoing lawsuit – REAP aims to elevate these stories, which for so long have been hidden in the shadows.
The public, and the elected officials who represent us, need to know the realities faced by LGBTQ students at religious colleges across the country:
The majority (56%) of these students remain closeted for fear of rejection, bullying and discipline.
Gender minority students are seven times more likely to be sexually assaulted on their Christian campus than cisgender students.
Gender minority students are nearly five times more likely to experience bullying or
harassment. Among students who were bullied, 85 percent of those who self-identify as non-straight reported the bullying had come from someone at their college or university.
Sexual and gender minority students are 15 times more likely to report their sexuality or gender identity has prevented them from feeling accepted by others on their college campus compared to their peers.
It is vital that the Equality Act any federal civil rights bill aiming to protect LGBTQ people does not leave out queer and transgender students at religious campuses who so urgently need these life-saving protections.
REAP is committed to working alongside our supporters and partner organizations to advocate for an inclusive Equality Act, free from harmful religious exemptions that would allow religious schools to continue harming their LGBTQ students.