Lancaster Bible College is among the country's worst campuses for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, according to a national LGBT advocacy group.
Campus Pride, a nonprofit focused on LGBT safety and inclusion in higher education, released a "shame list" this week, calling out "The Absolute Worst Campuses for LGBTQ Youth."
Lancaster Bible College, a private institution with about 1970 undergraduate and graduate students, is the only local campus among 102 on the list.
It was placed on the list because it applied last year for an exemption from Title IX, the federal law that bans discrimination in education.
"Lancaster Bible College is committed to do what must be done legally to protect our autonomy in order to fulfill our Christ-centered mission," said President Peter Teague in an email responding to the list.
All of the colleges named by Campus Pride are Christian-affiliated.
"It is an unspoken secret in higher education, how they use religion as a tool for cowardice and discrimination,” said Shane Windmeyer, the organization's executive director, in a press release.
The nonprofit spent six months researching public records to create the shame list, according to a press release. Identified colleges met at least one of two criteria:
—They received or applied for an exemption from Title IX.
—They demonstrated "a past history of anti-LGBT actions, programs and practices."
Exemptions from Title IX give administrations at religiously affiliated colleges greater leeway to set policies on dormitories, restrooms, athletics and so on.
For example, gay students at exempted institutions may face sanctions for having same-sex relationships, or transgender students may be denied access to housing or restrooms of the gender with which they identify.
Lancaster Bible College applied for a Title IX exemption in June 2015.
In the request, Teague cited the college's policy on gender identity, which says that biological sex is divinely ordained, and its lifestyle standards, which say that "sexual expressions" outside of a heterosexual marriage are "immoral and against God’s design.”
Teague said Tuesday that those principles are not synonymous with hate.
"As Christ followers, we must demonstrate we can disagree without demeaning, we can be biblical without being cruel, and we can love people where they are without endorsing behavior," he wrote Tuesday.
Title IX exemptions are not available to secular schools.
Nationwide, more than 70 institutions have sought Title IX exemptions since 2009, according to a 2015 report by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group.
Lancaster Bible College’s exemption, if granted, would supplement a narrower one it received in 1992 related to pre-employment inquiries and to discrimination based on marital or parental status of students and employees.
Two other campuses in the state made it to the Campus Pride shame list: Geneva College in Beaver Falls, north of Pittsburgh, for seeking exemption from Title IX, and Grove City College in northwest Pennsylvania for presenting "an 'ex-gay' speaker in its chapel service, which students are required to attend."