The Big 12 conference, which currently has 10 member schools, is expanding and there are several candidates who’d like to join. Some are saying that Brigham Young University is near the top of the list. But several groups are now urging commissioners to deny BYU’s application because of the way it treats LGBT students.
In a letter, more than two dozen groups lay out their reasons why BYU doesn’t deserve a spot in the Big 12:
[BYU] actively and openly discriminates against its LGBT students and staff. It provides no protections for LGBT students. In fact, through its policies, BYU is very clear about its intent to discriminate against openly LGBT students, with sanctions that can include suspension or dismissal for being openly LGBT or in a same-sex relationship. The LGBT climate is so bad at BYU that it is ranked the 6th worst school in the country for LGBT students. Given BYU’s homophobic, biphobic and transphobic policies and practices, BYU should not be rewarded with Big 12 membership.
The Big 12 is known for its dedication to its sports community (fans, coaches, staff and players, etc.) and its commitment to the welfare of its student-athletes. BYU’s membership to the Big 12 would jeopardize both. First, LGBT coaches, players and fans who attend and/or compete at any Big 12 events hosted at BYU would be subject to discrimination since BYU remains exempt from Utah’s LGBT nondiscrimination law. Moreover, any student-athlete who identifies as LGBT, and subsequently selects BYU due to its Big 12 membership, would be subjected to BYU’s unabashed discrimination. This would endanger the student-athlete’s NCAA eligibility and mental health. The Big 12’s sports community, especially its student athletes, deserve better than this.
BYU makes very clear that students who act on their homosexuality are violating the honor code, which makes them subject to expulsion.
A BYU official responded to the letter by basically saying, “All of that is true.”
In a statement to FOX Sports Monday, school spokesperson Carri Jenkins said, “BYU welcomes as full members of the university community all whose conduct meets university standards. We are very clear and open about our honor code, which all students understand and commit to when they apply for admission. One’s stated sexual orientation is not an issue.“
No one being gay was an issue. It’s the acting on it — the same way straight students act on their sexuality — that’s the problem. BYU is legally allowed to promote this kind of faith-based bigotry on campus, but it shouldn’t be rewarded with admission into the Big 12, with all the financial perks (like revenue for televised football games) that come with it.
For what it’s worth, Baylor University (also a religious school) is already in the Big 12. But there’s a difference with BYU when it comes to how they treat LGBT students:
Baylor, a Baptist university, previously had language similar to BYU’s in its sexual misconduct policy. Last year the school removed a specific reference to “homosexual acts” from a list of “Missuses of God’s gift” that could result in disciplinary action. The revised policy does not reference any specific acts, rather that “physical sexual intimacy is to be expressed in the context of marital fidelity.”
Since student athletes are likely not having sex in full view of everyone else, the revised policy amounts to nothing, since no one would know what you’re doing behind closed doors. As it stands, however, BYU’s policy could be applied to gay students who are doing something as innocuous as holding hands or embracing each other after a big win.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Dallon for the link)