(New York, NY, August 9, 2016)—Athlete Ally, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and more than 20 leading LGBTQ organizations submitted a letter to the Big 12 Conference and its member schools urging it not to consider Brigham Young University (BYU) as a potential new conference member because of the school’s express policy of discriminating against same-sex couples and LGBTQ students.
The Big 12 Conference is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletic conference consisting of 10 Division I colleges and universities. Member schools are located in Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia. Recently, there has been public discussion that the Big 12 is seeking to expand, with BYU as a leading candidate for inclusion.
BYU is located in Provo, Utah and is considered the sixth worst school for LGBTQ students in the nation. Its policies requiring discrimination against LGBTQ students include its Honor Code, which prohibits “homosexual behavior” by students and staff. This “includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.” BYU’s discrimination against LGBTQ students and staff is so severe that Princeton Review has ranked BYU as the sixth worst school for LGBTQ students in the country.
Athlete Ally Executive Director and Founder Hudson Taylor believes BYU should automatically be disqualified from contention into the Big 12 Conference: “Brigham Young University’s treatment of its LGBTQ students and faculty show that its values are antithetical to the Big 12’s. It’s an honor and a privilege to belong to an athletic conference such as the Big 12; discrimination should not be rewarded.”
Added NCLR Sports Project Director Helen Carroll: “To maintain the solid reputation that the Big 12 promotes toward fostering a competitive and inclusive atmosphere for student athletes at every member institution, any consideration of an expansion including Brigham Young University—a university whose policies expressly discriminate against LGBTQ students—would move the Big 12 far away from their core values of championing inclusion and fairness for all student athletes. Knowing these facts, it is imperative that the Big 12 reject any bid by the university for membership.”