Campus Pride won’t include Florida or Texas schools in its list of best colleges and universities for LGBTQ+ students to attend. Instead, the organization issued a “red alert” warning the schools will inevitably fall in rankings and that state leaders have put institutions’ academic reputations at risk.
“Campus Pride stands by every campus being negatively impacted by anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the states of Florida and Texas,” said Campus Pride founder, CEO, and executive director Shane Mendez Windmeyer. “Higher education must instill values of diversity and inclusion in order to create a quality, productive workforce. The classroom must be safe, and create a welcoming academic learning environment.”
But Mendez Windmeyer said new laws instituted in both states compromise that environment.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in May signed a law barring the state’s public colleges and universities from spending any funds on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives programs or classes. Campus Pride specifically cited that law in a release announcing both the University of Central Florida and the University of North Florida, despite appearing in the rankings in the past, would be dumped this year. That’s despite UNF topping the list of universities in the Southeast United States in 2022, and UCF receiving the highest listing for any Florida school in 2021.
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also signed a similar law, which has forced the closure of LGBTQ_ resource centers for students on Texas campuses. This means Texas Tech University and the University of Texas at Dallas, which both have earned Campus Pride recognition on its Best of the Best lists in years past, won’t receive the accolades this year. The two campuses were the only ones in the Southwest United States to make the list last year.
Moreover, Campus Pride cautions students considering higher education in either state as anti-queer crusades continue in Austin and Tallahassee.
“These laws are being weaponized against LGBTQ+ people, needlessly endangering the safety and well-being of students on campuses across the states of Florida and Texas,” Mendez Windmeyer said. “Already we are hearing from prospective students and families that they are choosing colleges elsewhere.”
“It is truly sad, when political leaders use people as pawns,” said Manny Velásquez-Paredes, director of the LGBTQ Center at the University of North Florida, in a press release about the exclusion. “It is clear to every rational human being that diversity, equity, and inclusion are meant to create awareness and embrace, celebrate, and include our differences. However, we have found ourselves in the middle of a political culture war that is meant to divide us. Their attacks on the LGBTQ+ community have been deeply felt this past legislative session, with over 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in the U.S.”
Institutes in the states will still be included in the Campus Pride Index, but the organization warned as it updates profiles for colleges and universities later this year, scores for Florida and Texas campuses will inevitably suffer.