Athlete Ally, a non-profit that conducts LGBT awareness campaigns for sports leagues, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, sent a letter to Big 12 administrators detailing what they believe are discriminatory policies by BYU, a religious institution owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In the letter addressed to commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the authors write in part: "BYU … actively and openly discriminates against its LGBT students and staff. It provides no protections for LGBT students … Given BYU’s homophobic, biphobic and transphobic policies and practices, BYU should not be rewarded with Big 12 membership."
The letter is co-signed by 23 other national and regional advocacy groups, including GLAAD and National Organization for Women (NOW).
A few weeks ago, I declared that — according to the Big 12’s stated expansion criteria — BYU should be considered the leading candidate. This particular issue stuck in the back of my mind, though, and I wish I’d fully acknowledged its weight at the time.
This is the center of what we refer to when we say BYU’s an inexact "cultural fit" for this conference, or really any conference. BYU’s stance on sexual orientation has long been an issue in athletics. In the Big 12 discussion, the Sunday-only thing will ultimately be nothing compared to this.
BYU’s Honor Code does not forbid LGBTQ people from attending, but the latest version does include the following, which is discriminatory by any definition:
Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.
The Princeton Review ranked BYU No. 6 on its list of the least LGBT-friendly schools, behind only Tennessee among FBS universities.
BYU has a legal right to include this in its Honor Code, just as the Big 12 has a legal right to invite a university that guarantees equal treatment for all students. BYU has made its choice, and the Big 12 will soon make its.
Tuesday, BYU's AD responded:
LGBT players, coaches and fans are always welcome to the BYU campus. Everyone should be treated with respect, dignity and love. Tom— Tom Holmoe (@TomHolmoe) August 9, 2016
Less than an hour after Mandel’s report published, rival Big 12 candidate Houston tweeted the following:
The account’s handler later said the tweet of the week-old article had been scheduled earlier in the day.
Rest in peace to Arizona center Zach Hemmila, who passed away in his sleep at the age of 22.
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