Students are back in school now and, as always, LGBTQ students are on my mind. College is an exciting and terrifying time. These are the years when you admit things to yourself that you had to suppress before. It’s when we question everything we previously assumed to be true and discover new language for our principles. For some of us, the college years were a time when we thought we were the only person in our entire dorm who was too depressed to make it out of bed for afternoon classes.
It’s vital to have supportive people in your corner you when you’re in college.
Since InterVarsity, one of the largest campus ministries in the country, announced their decision to fire all staff who affirm same-sex marriage last year, LGBTQ students of faith now have fewer Christian communities where they feel safe to tell the truth about themselves. Most students, regardless of their theology around same-sex marriage, want to know the leaders in their communities will support them no matter where they end up with questions of sexuality. They want to know their mentors’ love for them isn’t contingent upon them not-gay-dating or falling in love.
The good news is that many Christian communities do cheerfully welcome LGBTQ students! Some of these organizations are formally recognized by their college administrations, and some are student-led because their college doesn’t approve of them. I would like to do a few things to help connect LGBTQ students with supportive faith communities.
1. I’m going to get a list started below to highlight some ministries I’ve been told are safe for LGBTQ students. I’m not personally familiar with each organization, but it’s worth it to check them out if one is near you. I also invite you to comment below if you know of welcoming communities near campuses. Even if some of these organizations aren’t perfect, you might meet friends there who remind you that you’re not alone.
2. If you are a student leader of an LGBTQ community of faith on a college campus, send me an email and let me know how I can support you. It’s hard enough thriving in the midst of the personal challenges you face as an LGBTQ Christian student, so I can only imagine the burden you feel as you blaze a trail for your peers to have a place to belong.
3. If you’re out on campus and there are no organizations for LGBTQ students near you, consider starting an informal gathering of queer students. You don’t have to have an agenda––you can just decide to open up your apartment to queer students on Thursday nights and tell friends to bring enough snacks to share. Students have a lot of power on college campuses. Even in communities where you’re not allowed to be in same-sex relationships, you are allowed to gather with friends to support one another. There’s no pressure: you’re free to use these years to focus on your classes(!) and friendships and personal growth. But if this is the kind of group you long for, you can create it.
If you are desperate for community and there is no ministry near you, I encourage you to check out the Gay Christian Network and The Reformation Project. Virtual support can be a lifeline when you don’t have it in person, and no one should have to go through these years feeling utterly alone. I hope you know how much God delights in you exactly the way you are.
Here is a list of organizations I happen to know about:
Advocate – Loyola University Chicago
Biolans’ Equal Ground – Biola University
Belmont Bridge Builders – Belmont University
Canterbury Episcopal Campus Ministries – This is a list of Episcopal campus ministries all over the United States
Claremont Christian Fellowship – The Claremont Colleges
Ekklesia – Missouri State University
Incarnation Ministries – They have chapters on several campuses
Haven – Azusa Pacific University
Haven – Seattle Pacific University
Labyrinth – The University of Texas at Austin
MC Allies – Messiah College (Messiah also has a group called SAGE Prism)
North Park Queers and Allies – North Park University Chicago
Pirate Pride – Whitworth University
Pres House – The University of Wisconsin – Madison
PRISM – UCLA
Receiving with Thanksgiving – Penn State
SAGA at Calvin College – SAGA is a peer education group of LGBTQ students (Calvin has several support groups)
SPICE – A Quaker community at Appalachian State University
Refuge – Eastern University
Refuge – Wheaton College (this group is not affirming, but the students I know there are extraordinary)
Sacred Worth – Duke Divinity School
Sexual Identity Forum – Baylor University
The Corner House – University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
The Sanctuary – University of Washington
The inclusive Collective – The University of Illinois Chicago
The Table – Grove City College
The Wesley Foundation – Florida State University
UKirk – This is a list of Presbyterian Church (USA) campus ministries all over the United States
Voice – Abilene Christian University
Voices of Love – Point Loma Nazarene University
This list is not exhaustive, so comment below with other campus organizations you know! And please let me know if I can support you in your efforts to create a safe place for LGBTQ students at your college.
The Table at Grove City College
Claremont Christian Fellowship (at the Claremont Colleges). Formerly Pomona-Pitzer Christian Fellowship (2 of the Claremont Colleges), our students voted to disaffiliate from InterVarsity last fall. We, the staff, were among those purged from InterVarsity. We are now an independent fellowship serving all five of the Claremont Colleges.
Thank you for sharing this! I’m so sorry you had to go through the purge, but I’m thankful to hear your ministry stayed intact.
Belmont Bridge Builders, Belmont University, Nashville.
Pres House (www.preshouse.org) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania has an LGBTQ=Inclusive Bible Study group that meets weekly. Its GLBTQ Resource Center also keeps a listing of welcoming churches in the area.
Whitworth University–Pirate Pride
Open Doors is a group through the Denton Wesley Foundation (the Methodist group on campus) at the University of North Texas. We’re hoping to get the whole Wesley to go through the process of becoming Reconciling – and we’re definitely welcoming of LGBTQ students – but as of now, Open Doors stands as a our LGBTQ safe space. 🙂
Bridges Alliance at Oklahoma Christian University
The Haven at Seattle Pacific University
OneGordon – Gordon College
Seattle Pacific University: Haven – recognized as a student club by the administration. Find it on Facebook.
Receiving With Thanksgiving at Penn State
St. Martin’s Episcopal University Center, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas
OMG, what a time we live in! I never IMAGINED there’d be so many resources and groups out there at Christian colleges for LGBTQ folk! This list is pretty awesome. It would be great to have this as a separate title link on your website (a Resources link perhaps, to go along with Home, About, Blog, Speaking, and Contact).
Isn’t it amazing?? And good call on making it permanent under a resource tab. Will do!
Voices of Love at Point Loma Nazarene University. We meet Thursdays from 7:30-8:30 in Robinson Conference Room in Nicholson Commons. Come join if you’re interested.
George Fox University – Common Ground – can be found on Facebook, or students may contact me and I will add them to the group.
Synergy Wesley Foundation at the University of Texas at Dallas. Thanks Julie!
Voices of Love at Point Loma Nazarene University!
Thanks so much for writing this post! I just wanted to update you, Wheaton updated their website this year so the Refuge page hyperlink is no longer working. I’m not sure where there might be info on it on the internet but if there is a current Wheaton student that is interested, they can email email@example.com. I hope this helps!