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The Report (March 2021)

ThE LGBTQ+ Student DiViDe

The State of Sexual and Gender Minority Students at Taxpayer-Funded Christian Colleges


The Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP) commissioned College Pulse to undertake a national poll of college student experiences on Christian colleges and universities to better understand the experiences of LGBTQ+ students at these campuses. 


This study offers a first-of-its-kind insight into the rampant discrimination, abuse and mistreatment faced by LGBTQ students at taxpayer-funded religious colleges and underscores the urgent need to ensure safety, dignity and respect for queer and transgender students at religious schools nationwide.

1. More than 1 in 10 students self-identify as a sexual minority.
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Among those who attend Christian colleges and universities, 12% of students self-identify as non-heterosexual. With a broader definition that encompasses self-identification and any attraction or experience that is not between a heterosexual female and a heterosexual male, the number of non-heterosexual students more than doubles to approximately 30%.

2. On average, gender minority students experience double the number of adverse experiences compared to their cisgender peers.
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The types of adverse experiences gender minority students have most frequently include anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Nearly 7 in 10 gender minority students report experiencing loneliness (70%) or depression (65%). Similarly, about one-third of gender minority students report having used alcohol (28%) or having had suicidal thoughts (29%) during their time at their college. This stands in stark contrast to their cisgender peers, for whom only 7% have seriously considered suicide. One in 5 (22%) gender minority students report being bullied during their college experience, and the majority (73%) of these students report the bullying coming from someone at their college.

3. Sexual and gender minority students more likely to report not being able to fully participate in college life than their heterosexual and cisgender peers.
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Gender minority students are nearly 20 times more likely to report that their sexual or gender identity prevented them from dating the person that they want to compared to their cisgender peers, and 17 times more likely to say that their identity has prevented them from feeling accepted at their college. Gender minority students are nearly 10 times more likely to report that their gender has held them back from participating in campus life, such as joining clubs on campus or becoming an officer in one, compared to cisgender students.

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