Seventeen professional psychology societies have signed a statement calling on the US Department of Education to protect LGBTQ students in religious colleges and universities from discrimination.
The statement comes in response to a class action lawsuit on behalf of 33 students or alumni of federally-funded Christian colleges and universities who allege widespread discrimination against LGBTQ students, including bullying and harassment.
“Decades of psychological research have consistently shown that discrimination against LGBTQ + people is harmful and can lead to increased rates of suicide, mental health symptoms, substance abuse, isolation, and lower educational outcomes by school environment, “the statement said.
He calls on the Department of Education to investigate the allegations of harm and take appropriate action to protect LGBTQ students.
The signatories – all divisions of the American Psychological Association – include the Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, the American Psychology-Law Society, and the Society for Pediatric Psychology. The statement does not represent the position of the American Psychological Association.
The statement was hosted by Joshua Wolff, clinical psychologist and professor at Adler University in Chicago.
âIt is for colleges who say being LGBTQ is a sin and who take an unstated theological stance on (sexual) identities and relationship statuses,â Wolff said.
Filed in March by the nonprofit Religious Exemption Accountability Project, the lawsuit alleges LGBTQ students at 25 Christian colleges and universities were forced into conversion therapy, banned from dating same sex, sanctioned for social media posts, private campus housing and, in one case, blocked access to LGBTQ websites and resources on the campus Internet.
These schools assert a traditional view of Christianity that does not recognize sexuality outside of heterosexual marriage. Some require students to sign codes of conduct banning same-sex dating.
Most schools receive federal funding in the form of student loans and research grants, but they enjoy religious exemptions from Title IX protections for LGBTQ students. The Religious Exemption Accountability Project has 200 religious colleges and universities that discriminate against LGBTQ students.
The statement recognizes the importance of religious expression and notes that religion and spirituality are important to the lives of LGBTQ people. But he calls on the Department of Education to recognize freedom of religion without ignoring harmful practices and policies targeting LGBTQ students.