PLNU Renamed as Unsafe for LGBTQ+ Students by Campus Pride

An article from Campus Pride released on Oct. 2, 2023 named Point Loma Nazarene University once again an unsafe school for LGBTQ+ students. 

Campus Pride, a website dedicated to making college campuses more safe for LGBTQ+ students, created a list called The Worst List in 2001. This list is used to call out colleges and universities that have committed actions that are not in support of the LGBTQ+ community. This year PLNU was named on the list for the 6th time. 

The website states “The Worst List identifies the ‘absolute worst, most unsafe campuses for LGBTQ youth’ in the United States. The colleges & universities listed have chosen to openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth and/or have requested Title IX exemptions to perpetuate the harms of religion-based bigotry.”

The website explained that the criteria to join the list include actions that go against the LGBTQ community, such as applying to be exempt from Title IX to discriminate against the LGBTQ community.  

In 2023, 196 campuses were added to the list making the total 389.

According to Lauren Cazares, a PLNU alumnus and founder of Loma LGBTQIA+ Alumni & Allies Coalition, PLNU making the list again this year isn’t surprising. 

“PLNU has been on the list since I was a student in 2019,” Cazares said. “Given everything that happened in the spring, I think it’s appropriate.” 

Cazares said that when she was a student the language around sexuality wasn’t as strict, but in recent years has gotten stricter. 

According to PLNU’s Traditional Undergraduate Student Handbook, “Students are expected to abstain from sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage.”

“PLNU seeks to be a community where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons are treated with dignity, grace, and holy love in the Spirit of Christ. We recognize the complexity of current issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity. The university desires to faithfully care for all students while engaging these conversations with respect, care, humility, courage, and discernment.”

“There’s simple things they could change, but they haven’t. PLNU hasn’t thought ‘How can we not be homophobic without changing our values,’” Cazares said. 

Cazares commented on the homophobic vandalism on campus that occurred this semester in Young Residence Hall. 

“We’re lucky that violence didn’t take place, but it’s clear that there could be,” Cazares said. “PLNU needs to be preventative instead of reactive with these cases. I don’t think Bob Browner hates the queer community, but I also don’t think the right mechanisms are in place to protect students,” Cazares said. 

Mary Paul, the vice president for Student Life and Formation, explained that though she hasn’t heard or seen anything about the list she believes that PLNU remains a place that welcomes every kind of student. 

“When difficult situations arise, how we care, show respect for and support one another matters,” Paul wrote via an email interview. “At a time when our world is increasingly more divided, our hope is that we can continue to live out our commitments of mutual respect and support with appreciation and acknowledgment of our differences. While we cannot control all the actions of members of our community, we can be consistent in our response of care and/or discipline when anything occurs that is outside of community expectations.”

Paul said that she believes that lists come and go but the community at PLNU and the memories that each student makes will remain. 

“Rankings and designations will come and go,” Paul wrote. “How we treat one another is what endures. We want every student who has been called to PLNU to experience and create lasting memories that provide them with a sense of purpose and hope throughout their life.”

Currently there has been no acknowledgement that this list exists anywhere on PLNU’s campus and there is no recent news on the investigation with the vandalization in Young Residence Hall.