LGBTQ Advocacy Group Tries To Block BYU From Bring Added To Big 12 Conference

We've seen the NCAA, NBA, and the NFL swing their weight in regard to protecting LGBT rights, equal treatment, where games will take place, etc.  Now there's a challenge to Brigham Young University (BYU) and it's possible inclusion into the Big 12 Football conference expansion.


An LGBTQ advocacy group has sent a letter to the commissioner of the Big 12 urging the conference to remove BYU from consideration for membership because it says the school has discriminatory policies.

Athlete Ally, a nonprofit group that works with sports leagues and organizations on educational and awareness programs, wrote in a letter sent Monday that "… through its policies, BYU is very clear about its intent to discriminate against openly LGBT students …"

BYU is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The school's honor code states that same-gender attraction is not an issue.  But it does state, "Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code." The school honor code requires all students to commit to chastity outside of marriage.

"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," the school said in a statement through spokeswoman Carri Jenkins. –

Athlete Ally is not the only group raising these concerns for the letter was also signed by 23 other advocacy groups.

But why is BYU a target right now?  The school competes in the West Coast Conference in other sports, such as basketball.  Are these groups anti BYU basketball as well or is it just that the school is in a possible football conference transition at this time?  Is the group examining the other schools that may join the Big 12 instead  of BYU (Central Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Connecticut and Memphis)?

What about Notre Dame and other Catholic institutions.  Should we start threatening sports affiliations and conferences to become more political and LGBT oriented against Catholic / Jesuit schools?

In an interview with the AP last month, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said he was not concerned that the school's religious affiliation would stand in the way of its attempts to join the Big 12.  "We fully intend that when we have an opportunity to meet with them and have discussions that they're going to ask us questions that they're going to have about everything, every aspect (of the school).  But certainly that could be one of the things, and specifically we're not sure what they would ask regarding that but we would answer every one of the questions," Holmoe said on July 22.

The board in April adopted a requirement for host sites of its sanctioned tournaments and events to demonstrate "how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination and also safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event."

Last month the NCAA said it would be sending a questionnaire to future and potential host city organizing groups to gauge whether they would "provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination."

The NCAA last year helped apply pressure that led to Indiana changing a law that its critics called discriminatory against LGBTQ people. North Carolina is now facing similar pressure over the law known as HB2 that limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people.

Utah has nondiscrimination laws, but BYU as a private school is exempt.

Big 12 members Baylor and TCU are private schools with church affiliations. Baylor, a Baptist university, last year modified a school policy on sexual misconduct to remove a reference to homosexual acts. The Baptist Faith and Message of 1963, which guides the school's policies, does define marriage as a union of one man and one woman.  TCU is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ Church and has a non-discrimination statement that references sexual orientation and gender identity. –

How far do we go with the threat of "no sports for you?" 

Is Athlete Ally et al. in the right to raise concern about BYU's possible selection to join the Big 12?

Should there be action taken against BYU and it's current conference and not wait for the change?




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