Currently, Brigham Young University is being considered as a new member to the Big 12. Iowa State’s student government recently issued a resolution against BYU joining the Big 12, as listed in Friday’s issue of the Collegian. As a member of the LGBT community and the president of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance on campus, my stance is that BYU does not deserve to be a part of the Big 12.
BYU’s values do not align with the rest of the Big 12 Conference’s growing commitment toward LGBT inclusion. Nine out of 10 Big 12 schools have protections for students based on their sexuality as well as LGBT resource centers that work to make their campuses safer and more welcoming to LGBT individuals. Furthermore, 80 percent of schools within the Big 12 have protections for students based on their gender identity.
Unlike existing Big 12 members, BYU doesn’t abide by NCAA rules and Title IX regulations. The Big 12 should not welcome in a new member who is allowed any exemptions from the conference’s standards but rather new members who will help to continue the progress toward LGBT inclusion already being made within the conference. Being a member of the Big 12 Conference is a privilege, not a right, and as long as BYU upholds anti-LGBT policies incongruent with the values and expectations of the other member schools within the Big 12, it does not deserve that privilege.
Further, BYU’s bigotry is detrimental to the entire Big 12 sports community. Any coaches, athletes, fans, etc. who might travel to BYU for a sporting event would be unprotected from discrimination as BYU is exempt from Utah’s LGBT nondiscrimination laws. Any LGBT athlete who may be drawn to BYU for its membership in the Big 12 will be forced to live with the university’s blatant discrimination. BYU’s anti-LGBT policies would certainly be detrimental to the mental health and academic achievement of any LGBT athlete at the university. The Big 12 Conference should not support an environment that is disrespectful of sexuality and gender identities.
Kansas State is leading the way in LGBT inclusion in our conference, ranking at No. 1 for LGBT inclusion in the Big 12, according to the Campus Pride Index. BYU is ranked as the sixth worst school in the nation for LGBT inclusion on the same index. To add them to our conference would undo a lot of progress being made toward creating an inclusive environment and would be harmful to the entire Big 12 community.
Holly Nelson, senior in anthropology