For 165 years CTS has been a leading progressive seminary in the US. Our commitment to students in the LGBTQ+ community is second to none.

Our Commitment to Sexual & Gender Justice

  • We are committed, in a world governed by sex and gender binaries, to advocate gender justice, to nurture movements for women’s equality, and to liberate humanity from restrictive gender norms.
  • We are committed, in a world governed by the presumption of heterosexual expression, to challenge homophobia, to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other individuals within the spectrum of human sex and sexuality, and to develop leadership to encourage faith communities to become more open and affirming.

Degree Concentrations

CTS allows you to focus your studies on your interests and passions. Students in the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Theology and Doctor of Philosophy programs can attain a degree concentration in LGBTQ+ studies. CTS also offers a Certificate in Theological Studies with an LGBTQ+ Concentration.

Gilberto Castañeda Lecture & Award

The Gilberto Castañeda Award was established in 1994 in loving memory of Gilberto Castañeda, the “adopted” son of Dr. Theodore Jennings and Rev. Ronna Case. Gilberto was an “inquirer” who “found the love of God so compelling that he became not only a member but also a leader in the new congregations of young people” being established by Rev. Case. He learned to play the guitar and, over the next five years, brought his gifts of music and ministry to Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches and Methodist congregations in both Chicago and Atlanta. In 1994, at the age of 29, he died of complications due to AIDS.

This award is presented either to openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students or to those who actively support the openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered student community at Chicago Theological Seminary. It is an expression of the seminary’s commitment on behalf of these students to transform congregations from places of hostility and alienation to communities of hospitality and empowerment.


  • 2003 Bob Bond
  • 2004 Anastasia McRae and Matt Emery
  • 2005 Susan Sparta and Gabriel Calderon
  • 2006 Susan Ross and Nicolette Siragusa
  • 2007 Carlos Fernandez, Mack Kneebone and Mike Underhill
  • 2008 Jennie Kitch and Benjamin Reynolds
  • 2009 Kooper Kneble, Nate Metrick, and Katherine Schofield
  • 2010 Eileen “Mittens” Gebbie, Erik Koepnick, and Emily Jones
  • 2011 Jamie Hawley and Wendy Cooper
  • 2012 Esther Baruja
  • 2013 Britt Cox
  • 2014 Teresa Smallwood
  • 2015 Tamera Keller-Love and Jason Carson Wilson
  • 2016 Jason Frey and Jennifer Sanders
  • 2017 Wei-Jen Chen and Lynn Young
  • 2018 Zaynab Shahar and Joey Rodil
  • 2019 AnnaBeth Roeschley and Yinessa Romero
  • 2020 Jeff/Lisa Simpson and Jeremy Wallace
  • 2021: Mac Buff
  • 2022: Leika Lewis-Cornwell
  • 2023: Elizabeth “Ez” Pence and Randy Tyson
  • 2024: Debra Behrendt and Benjamin Coakley