PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – LGBT advocacy groups are urging the Big 12 not to admit BYU as an expansion school, according to a letter obtained by ESPN.com.
In the letter, dated August 8th, Athlete Ally, a non-profit organization that raises LGBT awareness in sports, sent a letter to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby to express its concerns about the Big 12 candidacy of BYU, which is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“As organizations committed to ending homophobia, biphobia and transphobia both on and off the field of play, we are deeply troubled by this possibility,” the letter reads. “We feel it would be extremely problematic to include BYU in your conference expansion.”
Athlete Ally suggests adding BYU “would be inconsistent with Big 12 membership values.”
The Athlete Ally letter also states that “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.”
BYU spokesperson Carri Jenkins said in a statement, “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.”
Last month, the Big 12 board of directors gave approval to seek possibilities for expansion, and BYU is one of the top candidates to join the conference.