Student Government criticizes BYU for anti-LGBT policies

Paul Cobler

Several members of Student Government are co-authoring legislation in an effort to criticize Brigham Young University’s admission to the Big 12 Conference, because of BYU’s honor code banning “homosexual behavior” by all members of its university.

The code states, “Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the honor code,” in a 10-line passage that was first brought to Student Government president Kevin Helgren’s attention earlier this month, who then told the Student Government Assembly of his plans to write the legislation.

Helgren was made aware of the passage through an email from Iowa State’s student body president, whose student governemnt is planning similar legislation.

“I went to BYU’s website and thought to myself, ‘Wow that’s pretty out of touch. That’s pretty outlandish,’” Helgren said. “I think I am in a unique position because, sure, I’m the student body president, but I’m also a gay male. It’s something that means a lot to me.”

In July, UT President Greg Fenves spoke in support of the University of Houston entering the conference and says he will take any legislation from Student Government into consideration.

“I don’t have any other comments about any other schools at this time, but I do look forward to hearing the students voice’s on this issue,” Fenves said.

Fenves, who sits on the conference Board of Directors, also said no decision has been made at this time as to whether or not the conference will expand, but expects a decision by the end of October.

BYU is a private university sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and bases its honor code off of the church’s teachings. Carri Jenkins, the assistant to the president for University Communications at BYU, said all students agree to follow the honor code before entering the university.

“BYU’s honor code explicitly states the principles that students are expected to follow,” Jenkins said. “The honor code explains that sexual orientation is not an issue … BYU has also made it clear that members of the LGBT community are welcome to our campus, where they can expect to be treated with respect, dignity and love.” 

Since announcing his plans to write the legislation, Helgren said he has received the support of five student representatives but anticipates even larger support.

“I think we’re going to have a lot of support from the assembly because it makes sense,” Helgren said.

The Big 12 declined to comment on BYU’s honor code and possible inclusion in the conference.