Monday August 8th, 2016

A group of 25 LGBT advocacy organizations has signed a letter asking the Big 12 not to consider BYU for conference expansion.

Fox Sports’s Stewart Mandel first reported the details of the letter.

The letter was drafted by Athlete’s Ally and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and signed by 23 other pro-LGBT rights groups, including GLAAD and the National Organization for Women. It asks Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby to keep BYU out of conference expansion talks due to its stances on LGBT issues.

“BYU … actively and openly discriminates against its LGBT students and staff,” the letter reads. “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.”

BYU is a religious institution owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The school’s Honor Code—for which players and coaches can be dismissed for violating—explicitly refers to homosexual “behavior” as “inappropriate.”

Essentially, anyone at BYU who participates in a same-sex relationship is in violation of the honor code.

“BYU’s policies go against everything the Big 12 stands for,” Ashland Johnson, director of policy and campaigns for Athlete’s Ally, told Mandel. “Their member schools are very progressive. If they allow BYU into their conference, all of the LGBT student-athletes, coaches and fans who travel to BYU will not have any [discrimination] protections.”

BYU currently competes as an independent in football. The Big 12 has not made public its timeline for expansion, but the league could add anywhere from two to four schools.

You can Mandel’s full report here. BYU’s athletic director Tom Holmoe responded to the letter Tuesday:

[Fox Sports]

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