Several LGBT groups are urging the Big 12 Conference to not add BYU as an expansion school, as first reported by Fox Sports on Monday evening.
Athlete Ally, a non-profit organization that advocates for LGBT awareness in sports, sent a letter to Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby on Monday citing concerns about the Big 12 candidacy of BYU, owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The letter is also signed by several other LGBT groups and, according to ESPN's Jake Trotter, was also sent to all 10 Big 12 presidents.
Athlete Ally claims that adding BYU would be inconsistent with the values that the Big 12 espouses. Also, the letter states that what it calls BYU's anti-LGBT policies would be bad for the conference's community, student-athletes in particular, and those policies "violate both Big 12 guidelines and NCAA guidelines."
"BYU ... actively and openly discriminates against its LGBT students and staff," the letter says in part. "Given BYU's homophobic, biphobic and transphobic policies and practices, BYU should not be rewarded with Big 12 membership."
Ashland Johnson, a spokesman for Athlete Ally, told ESPN that the letter was prompted by language contained in the school's honor code. The honor code contains a section addressing homosexual behavior and says that same-gender attraction is not a violation, but acting on it in a same-sex relationship is.
Fox Sports reached BYU spokeswoman Carrie Jenkins for comment. In a statement, Jenkins told the organization, "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."
The letter comes just weeks after league officials said the Big 12 would explore expansion candidates. Since then, speculation and reports have tried to determine what direction the conference will go in regards to expansion.
Issues brought up in the letter had not previously been addressed in news about possible expansion.
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