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Where LGBT Students at Religious Schools Can Find Support
Life isn't typically easy for LGBT students, and it can feel even more isolating to attend a religious college with strict rules against homosexual behavior. If you're an LGBT student and you're not getting the support you need from your school, there are other places you can turn for support.
By Sarah Wright
Gay-Straight Alliance Not Recognized at Catholic University
Pepperdine University is well-respected school with a gorgeous campus overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, California. In short, it's a dream school. But recently, the Catholic-affiliated university declined to recognize Reach OUT - a gay-straight alliance - as an official campus club. The reason for this, according to Pepperdine officials, is because of the Catholic Church's stance on homosexuality. As reported in the Pepperdine student newspaper The Graphic, Mark Davis, Dean of Students, said that it is 'God's will' that 'sexual activity should be reserved for a husband-wife relationship,' and for that reason the school could not 'endorse another view or take a neutral position on sexual morality.'
Regardless of your stance on Pepperdine's politics, this certainly isn't a supportive and welcoming gesture. Being a gay student can be difficult no matter where you go to college, but LGBT students at religious colleges may feel particularly alienated due to the anti-gay stance taken by the faith with which their school is affiliated. These students may not be able to find on-campus support if they're feeling alienated and bullied by their own school officials. Fortunately, there are places that LGBT students can turn for help whether they go to a religious college or not.
Where to Turn
Don't hesitate to reach out for help if you're feeling depressed or suicidal. The Trevor Project is a great resource for LGBT youth who are feeling hopeless about their lives. You can call their support helpline at 866-488-7368, become a member of TrevorSpace, a social network, or browse their site's blog and news sections for hopeful news about LGBT life.
It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel while you're toiling away in a hostile environment. Fortunately, sex advice columnist extraordinaire (and happily married gay family man) Dan Savage has offered a forum for successful, happy gay adults to share their stories of triumph with younger LGBT individuals who may not be feeling so optimistic about the future. Watching just a few of these videos will remind you that there's a better life waiting for you once you get out of your current hostile environment.
Transfer to a Friendlier School
If you are being bullied and persecuted for your sexual or gender orientation at college, you don't have to sit there and take it, especially if the harassment is getting in the way of your education. You're paying for your education with time and money, and there's no reason to stick with something that isn't working for you - go ahead and transfer to a new school. Regardless of what reasons you might have to stay at your current school, your health, safety and happiness are too important to sacrifice.
There are plenty of colleges and universities out there with administration and student bodies that are open and welcoming to gay students. This list of the top 10 best colleges for LGBT students from Gawker can help you get started on your search for a great new school. Additionally, The Advocate College Guide covers a wider range of colleges and goes into detail about each profiled school's policies and other gay-friendly features. If you're worried about paying for it, there are scholarships for LGBT students that can help you out.
LGBT students might feel encouraged after reading this interview with LGBT advocate Evelyn Thomas.