Gay Group Seeks to Bar BYU from Big 12 Membership

Tanner Mangum
The Associated Press

A gay-rights organization issued a letter to the Big 12 urging the conference to block admission to Brigham Young University because of the religious convictions on homosexuality embraced by the school.

Athlete Ally, a non-profit group seeking to “foster inclusive sports communities,” seeks to exclude BYU from a bigger Big 12. The group says the school “openly discriminates against its LGBT students and staff” and “provides no protections for LGBT students.”

The Big 12 seeks to perhaps become the Big 14 with the addition of two schools. BYU, an independent with a football national championship and a Heisman Trophy-winner in its history, makes sense for the Big 12’s future from both sides. But until now, the school’s policy of barring sports on Sundays appeared as the biggest hurdle to admission, with the possibility open of the school joining the conference as a football-only member for that reason.

Fox Sports first reported on the letter, also signed by the National Organization for Women and 22 other pressure groups, sent to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which owns BYU, teaches that “sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” A 2014 letter sent to church leaders from the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles noted, “Just as those who promote same-sex marriage are entitled to civility, the same is true for those who oppose it. The Church insists on its leaders’ and members’ right to express and advocate religious convictions on marriage, family, and morality free from retaliation or retribution.”

But Athlete Ally doesn’t subscribe to that view.

“Given BYU’s homophobic, biphobic and transphobic policies and practices,” Athlete Ally contends, “BYU should not be rewarded with Big 12 membership.”