So a bunch of LGBTQ activist groups have asked the Big 12 to reconsider their interest in BYU because of discriminatory practices at BYU against LGBTQ students. Needless to say, many BYU fans are upset and protesting back, claiming that these activist groups don’t understand that BYU is open to gay students who live the BYU Honor Code; this is just another example of religious persecution, they say. Well, no. No, it isn’t. Its a natural consequence. Its accountability in action. For all the attention we Mormons like to pay to the idea of consequences, we sure don’t want to accept the unpleasant consequences when they crash down on us.
Does BYU discriminate against LGBTQ students? Does it lack a policy that protects them from discrimination? Yes. Of course. BYU enmeshes both its policies on academic integrity and student conduct into one Honor Code, something the vast majority of schools separate, and this leads to university discipline in the academic arena for infractions that are not related to academic integrity. A person can wind up on academic suspension for wearing the wrong clothes or holding the hand of a person of the same gender. At other universities, like the two religious schools already in the Big 12, the bar is much higher for harsh university discipline of students in violation of the student code of conduct. At Baylor, as I understand it, a student’s breach in the code of conduct must be an illegal act for academic expulsion to occur. At BYU, a homosexual caught flirting can be sent packing for unworthiness. No heterosexual is expelled for flirting at BYU.
At BYU, homosexual students who hug someone of the gender to which they are attracted risk discipline in the academic realm. (If you don’t believe this, read here to discover the direct response of the Honor Code office to a gay man’s specific inquiry about whether hugging a male, even without sexual intent, violates BYU’s Honor Code.) Obviously, this isn’t the same standard faced by heterosexual students. That is the fruit that identifies the tree. When the identical behavior is accepted in one group but not in the other, discrimination exists. BYU cannot possibly, with integrity, claim to protect homosexual students at the same time it exercises a double standard against them.
Actions—indeed, policies—have consequences. Discrimination may be a right under religious freedom, but that doesn’t make discrimination ethical or acceptable—not to God nor to those of his children who endure or observe the discrimination.
BYU wreaks consequences for student behaviors in an unnatural way. Academic indiscretion should be punished academically. Spiritual indiscretion should be handled at the intimate level of the congregation. The two should never meet. And, BYU, you sure as shooting shouldn’t punish one behavior in a homosexual unless you are going to punish the precise behavior in a heterosexual. At a minimum, separate your policies. Establish an Honor Code related to academic integrity that is distant from the Student Code of Conduct. Unless behavior is illegal, leave violations of student conduct to students and, if necessary, their ecclesiastical leaders. Instead, BYU organizes its bishops as informants and creates a sense of fear among at-risk students. This isn’t spiritual nurturing. Its spiritual and academic tyranny.
This is America. BYU is free to set its policies. LGBTQ activists are free to speak publicly against them. The Big 12 is free to decide whether or not inviting BYU into its conference is in its best interest. BYU fans are free to complain when they don’t like the inherent consequences of BYU’s policies. But in BYU’s America, LGBTQ students do not have equivalent freedoms or protections.
I understand BYU has colored its world in black and white, not in rainbow. But if BYU and its fan base don’t like the idea of the Big 12 instituting an exclusion policy against them, it’d be wise to drop the vestiges of their own. Turn about is fair play and the clock is running. Its time BYU evens its playing field. There’s not going to be a Hail Mary pass this time.
And there was a strict command throughout all the churches that there should be no persecutions among them, that there should be an equality among all men. Mosiah 27:3
Please “like” Life Outside the Book of Mormon Belt on Facebook by clicking here.
Follow LTDowning on twitter here.
Photo cred: Trent Nelson, Salt Lake Tribune
12 thoughts on “Is the Potential Big 12 Exclusion Policy a Natural Consequence for BYU?”
BYU is a private university that has a high moral standard. You say it is wrong for BYU to discriminate against immorality but yet God will separate the moral from the immoral at the great last day. The only consequence for discrimination, as you call it, will be the righteous on the right hand of God while the wicked on the left will be cast out into hell fire.
She didn’t say anything at all about discriminating against immorality.
Rob, who’s to say you are not the moral one, but the immoral one with your belief that homosexuals will be burned in hell. As an LGBTQ ally, I will take my chances on being tolerant and loving toward my fellow man, no matter their race, gender, or sexual preference, and we’ll all have to wait to see what happens on the other side. Neither you nor I know what will happen there. As far as BYU is concerned, you are correct…as a private institution it may create its own rules and policies, no matter how discriminatory. What it has no power over is how the rest of the world defines it as a university, and Mormons as people. As a Mormon, I am embarrassed by the discriminatory aspects of the Honor Code when it comes to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Oh, and one more thing, BYU has no say in how the Big 12 committee will react to how it discriminates. History has proven that in the Church, change often comes after social pressure. I pray that this is the type of pressure that helps the university and our church leaders rethink its damaging and un-Christlike policies.
God will discriminate against all the immoral ungodly people.
BTW, I never mentioned of what type of immorality. I am just saying that the honor code is built around church beliefs. Those who dont like it have a myriad of other schools to choose from. If someone is LDS and has so much frustration with the church policies then perhaps consider changing religions that are more inclusive to your beliefs.
The God I believe in a God of love. You can have your Old Testament god who threatens with hellfire… as your attitude reflects this. Telling your fellow members that disagree with a church policy to leave and go to another church, that’s not Christlike at all, dude. I know the spirit I have felt about November’s policy, and it is not one of the God I follow. I choose to stay and be an ally for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters from within. I fear that the intolerance and bigotry and discrimination that is found in the policy and in the honor code, for that matter, bolsters those same feelings in your own soul. As with monogamy, as with women’s rights, as with civil rights, society has a way of inspiring change in the Church. Church members are often slow to come around to change due to their own weaknesses. I recognize that you are probably a big BYU fan who is eager to have his team get some sort of national recognition by getting into a real conference. Actually, I hope they do get into the Big 12. It will mean more when they play my PAC-12 team to the north. I do hope the Big 12 can push the Y, and even the Church, to have a change of heart with the way they treat this underrepresented, hated group. You invited me and people like me to leave the Church. I invite you to sit down with someone who was born as a homosexual and get to know about their story, their struggles, their dreams, their fears. It will change you and help you gain perspective. Good luck to you and your Cougs.
Rob says, “If someone is LDS and has so much frustration with the church policies then perhaps consider changing religions that are more inclusive to your beliefs.” I say to that, change religions that are more inclusive to Jesus Christ’s beliefs.” The LDS church is far from that.
I have degrees from both BYU and a Big 12 school. My experience suggests that ironically, gay students and visitors would likely be treated better at BYU. The Big 12 in general is probably not a great paragon of gay tolerance. That’s not to say that they can’t or shouldn’t snub the Y, but they would probably do well to steer clear of any perceived self-righteousness in the process.
The Mormon people are very kind people. The folks in the Honor Code office are likely kind people. The issue is the institutionalized policies. BYU, technically, discriminates, and therefore, can’t protect LGBTQ students from discrimination. A conundrum that needs to be addressed.
Since when is having morals discrimination?
It is not unjust for the church to have morals.
I dont believe anybody is born a certain way. I disbelieve someone is born a homosexual. People choose to become what they label themselves.
Rob, we are free to believe what we want about how people are born. Please do not read or pay attention to the science that has been coming that supports the fact that your belief may be in jeopardy. Life is much easier to explain when we believe things that in reality are not true because those things may endanger a paradigm we have created. And having morals is not discrimination. Making someone live by YOUR morals is wrong. I recognize that we are talking about a private institution here. So BYU has every right to set any rules it wants. We would agree with that. Here’s the deal, a heterosexual couple gets to hug, kiss, hold hands on campus. Does a homosexual couple get to do this? Then much of the informed citizenry in this country would call that discrimination. See, this is a major issue. We (some of us) will one day look back on these discriminatory policies as we now do blacks not getting to hold the Priesthood, and shake our heads and wonder what we were thinking. Is part of our progression of learning to love and accept and not judge, as Christ would want from us. Actually sorry, he did judge…he has hardest on the orthodoxy.
If the Big 12 passes over BYU it is NOT an exclusion policy, it is the Big 2 saying to BYU “you don’t meet our standards”.