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
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.