And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.
And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.
And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.
And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.Mark 7
By now you have probably heard the news that BYU has prohibited providers at its speech therapy clinic from providing gender-affirming speech therapy to transgender patients on the basis that providing such therapy does not align with LDS Church policy. Shortly after BYU’s actions were made public, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (“ASHA”)–the national organization that accredits speech pathology programs and certifies speech-language pathologists (SLPs)–released a statement indicating that BYU’s decision was both contrary to ASHA’s code of ethics and a violation of health privacy laws.
I’m not an expert on rules governing publicly-funded, private religious universities like BYU and how they intersect with the First Amendment, and I am also not familiar with state or federal civil rights protections for transgender individuals. So I’m not going to address the legality of BYU’s actions. I am also not at all an expert on or spokeswoman for the trans community, it is an area that I am still learning about, and I welcome any direction to responses and articles from that community.** I don’t want to take away from that. But I do want to put out some thoughts on what I think is, and is not, at issue in this decision and hear from our community here about it.
What’s Not At Issue
Non-Gender Affirming Care. My current understanding (as reported in the Trib article) is that BYU is not denying services to all transgender clients. If, for example, a trans woman was seeking treatment for a cleft palate or stutter, she would not be denied treatment. If, however, she was seeking treatment to change the pitch or tone of her voice, she would be. This means that BYU will frame the issue not as denying care on the basis of gender identity (i.e., it is not denying care because a patient is transgender) but as declining to provide treatments where those treatments conflict with Church policy (based on religious freedom). I imagine they’ve done this carefully to avoid legal problems: they aren’t discriminating on the basis of gender identity, they are just declining to provide certain kinds of treatments.
I still think what BYU is doing is awful, and I’m not trying to defend it, and I’ll get to that. But I think it’s important to clearly understand what BYU is and is not doing right now so that we don’t give people strawmen arguments to throw down. If, however, this situation changes, I think that’s a significant change.
Individual Religious Freedom. For those crying “religious freedom”, I’ll say this: BYU’s decision is not about a person’s ability to freely practice his or her religion. From what I understand, none of the SLPs were being forced to provide gender-affirming speech therapy to transgender patients against their will or in contradiction to their own religious beliefs. In fact, what I’ve read suggests that they are very upset about the decision and would prefer to continue providing such services.
This decision is also not about a church’s ability to determine criteria for its own membership or proclaim its own beliefs. I do not believe the transgender patients were BYU students and so this is not about BYU enforcing its honor code against its own student population. It is about BYU deciding that clinics open to the public will deny medical services to the public if it deems those medical services to be inconsistent with its sponsoring religious institution’s policy, and asking a school medical clinic to go against the applicable standard of care and to violate the relevant professional organization’s code of ethics.
So, whether or not BYU’s behavior here is protected by the First Amendment or shielded by religious exemptions, I don’t find the religious freedom issue here to be particularly compelling in light of the many other interests that BYU is trampling with this decision.
The Commandments. I’m not aware of a commandment that says Thou Shalt Not Help Someone Change Their Voice. BYU cites the Handbook as the basis for this decision, because the handbook states that Church “leaders counsel against social transitioning,” which they define as including “changing dress or grooming, or changing a name or pronouns, to present oneself as other than his or her biological sex at birth.” It doesn’t mention vocal therapy, but presumably this is the basis for BYU’s decision. Well, the handbook also “discourages” tubal ligations and vasectomies, so I guess I didn’t realize that “counsel” and “discouragement” rose to the level of a commandment so critical that it requires this kind of decision. People who have transitioned can be baptized with First Presidency approval.
BYU also contends that “gender is eternal”; while I won’t get into it here, many have convincingly argued that this does not mean that everyone’s biological sex matches their eternal gender. The handbook conveniently defines “gender” as “biological sex at birth”, which is literally not what “gender” means. It also ignores that there are many variations in biological sex that can present at birth. Blaire Ostler’s Queer Mormon Theology is a great read for more on this topic.
The handbook also reminds us that “transgender individuals face complex challenges. Members and nonmembers who identify as transgender—and their family and friends—should be treated with sensitivity, kindness, compassion, and an abundance of Christlike love.” I know which provision I’d prioritize if I were in charge, but I’m not.
What Is At Issue
The Trans Community’s Access to Medical Care. One thing I think is critical to understand at the outset is that this kind of treatment is considered medical treatment for transitioning individuals. I’ve seen a few inapt analogies online like “this is like someone trying to change an accent,” but that is not what is at issue here. I’m stealing this from a Facebook discussion I was part of, where someone explained (in response to a commenter characterizing these services as “elective”) that:
“I don’t know that any of us who haven’t been through it can begin to comprehend the dysphoria a transgender person experiences. Medical interventions that might seem inconsequential or unnecessary to you can in fact be lifesaving, which would therefore make them necessary. It can be difficult to see this when so often people portray gender dysphoria and transgender individuals as simply having a ‘tendency’ or a preference, rather than their gender identity being something genuinely inherent. Speech therapy services can be vital for a trans individual, whatever degree of transitioning they have chosen. Aside from all the benefits this can offer to the emotional and mental distress of someone experiencing gender dysphoria, there is also a safety component to consider. A female-presenting individual who speaks with a deep, masculine voice could be subject to bullying and violence from a transphobic antagonist. Same for a male-presenting individual who speaks with a higher, feminine voice.”
The Salt Lake Tribute article linked above also describes discrimination that transitioned individuals whose voice does not match their gender identity can face and the way this is considered medical care because, if individuals attempt to change the pitch of their voice without assistance, they may end up damaging their vocal cords.
Other Students and Community Members Seeking Medical and Other Care. I hate “slippery slope” arguments, but I have to wonder where this particular line of reasoning will end. There are already issues with DMBA (the insurance provider for Church employees, including BYU faculty and students) refusing to provide coverage for birth control. What other medical treatment might be considered “condoning” things that are against Church policy? If an unmarried student goes for treatment for VD but does not commit to abstaining from sex, is the medical clinic to refuse treatment because otherwise they would be “condoning” premarital sex? If a student goes for treatment for drug or alcohol related health problems but likewise does not abstain–but will die without treatment–will the clinic refuse to continue “enabling” the drug use?
And what about other services such as mental health services? BYU’s comprehensive health clinic currently states that its services are provided “without regard to … sexual orientation … gender identity” and a variety of other protected classes consistent with federal law and, presumably, applicable professional standards. Well, that’s great that they don’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. But what if a gay student goes for counseling for anxiety and the clear best thing for that student to do is to stop attending Church? Or what if the student is dating members of the same sex? Are the counselors in that clinic going to be constrained in the advice and care they can provide if what is in the students best mental health interest does not align with Church policy?
How about other Church welfare services. If my gay child and her wife are living in my household, will I be barred from visiting the bishop’s storehouse lest they eat some of the Church’s food?
There is no good place to draw the line. That is because no line should be drawn when it comes to love and service.
BYU’S Accreditation & Reputation. One thing this decision is demonstrating is that Jeffrey Holland wasn’t kidding when he said the University was willing to sacrifice accreditation in furtherance of its discriminatory objectives. I already mentioned above that ASHA is investigating this, and BYU is up for accreditation soon.
This is a serious concern for students and faculty members currently in the SLP program and even people who have already graduated from the program, who may face difficulties finding employment. I also wonder about other programs at BYU that are accredited by organizations with non-discriminatory codes of ethics and standards of care. I’ve long thought that BYU’s social work and related programs are in jeopardy, and although they aren’t directly related to this decision, I think this brings them a step closer to the brink.
Even if the school does not lose accreditation, this therapy is part of a well-rounded education and many have expressed concerns that employers will not want to hire them if they come from a program that does not offer the full range of training (let alone that chooses to cut training for discriminatory reasons in violation of ASHA’s code of ethics and standard of care). I’ve spoken to many BYU grads in fields that serve LGBTQ+ populations who are concerned about the impact that BYU’s actions are having on their employment prospects.
I don’t think this is unfounded: the very day that Holland gave his speech I had drafted an email to a former colleague encouraging them to recruit from BYU. Then the speech hit, and I hit “delete.” I knew that this employer would not want to recruit from an anti-LGBTQ university, and I also knew I didn’t want to ask them to. I’ve also interviewed candidates from BYU who clearly were not comfortable in diverse environments and were turned down for that reason. While this is most acute in certain programs, I think it is a problem university-wide.
BYU’s “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve” will ring a bit hollow if the programs it currently has that are actually oriented at helping marginalized communities–like those with speech and hearing impairments, or in need of a social worker–are cut.
Privacy Rights. ASHA’s statement also raised this issue, and I think it is a serious one. HIPAA is a federal privacy law that protects medical information, and FERPA is a federal privacy law that protects student information. As ASHA explains on its website, “It is never acceptable to disclose an individual’s LGBTQIA+ status, medical and surgical history, or sex assigned at birth to colleagues or those not directly involved in that individual’s care. According to the ASHA Code of Ethics, Principle of Ethics I, Rule P, we are to protect the confidentiality of our clients’/students unless ‘doing so is necessary to protect the welfare of the person or of the community, is legally authorized, or is otherwise required by law.’ Confidentiality is guarded by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), FERPA, and individual state laws.”
No one outside of care providers in the clinic should have known the sexual orientation or gender identity of the clinic’s patients, let alone what they were seeking treatment for. BYU seems to have a history of sharing information between offices and departments where it is not appropriate to do so, but this one in particular is concerning. While it is possible that patients signed some form of information release, it seems doubtful that whatever information was provided in this case was within the scope of that release.
The implications of this are, to me, alarming. What if a single woman went to the medical treatment for a routine exam and was found to be pregnant–would the clinic report her? I certainly hope not, but that scenario is not far off from what happened here.
BYU’s Receipt of Federal Funding & Other Community Support. Again, I’m not a legal expert on this. But BYU currently receives significant federal funding. That’s right–your tax dollars are going to an institution that declines to provide standard-of-care medical treatment if it determines that treatment contradicts the Church handbook. (Your tithing dollars are, too, obviously.)
I’ve also been thinking about BYU’s relationship with the community more generally. I live and work in Provo. There are some real challenges and headaches that come with living in a University town. There are stresses to our infrastructure caused by the school and student population that aren’t borne by the school or students because the school doesn’t pay taxes and many of the students are non-residents and don’t pay, either. Traffic, parking, roads, real estate, etc. Now, there are also some awesome benefits to living in a university town–access to lots of great cultural and athletic events, camps, educational resources, and–yep–free clinics! I think this is a fine partnership generally. But if BYU starts picking and choosing which members of the community it’s willing to open its doors to and which standards of medical care it chooses to follow, that partnership gets very one-sided. Whoever those trans people who were shown the door are, their tax dollars and possibly their tithing dollars have gone to support BYU, and assuming they live in the area, they are part of the BYU community. I’m not OK with the way BYU is contracting the way it defines its community.
Whether We Can Call Ourselves Christian. Hyperbole? I really don’t think so. One of Jesus’s most beautiful roles was as a healer, and I posted above an account of giving the gift of hearing and speech to a man. The irony that BYU at the Church’s direction is denying healing and speech to a marginalized group–truly one of the most marginalized groups in our community, by the Church’s own admission in the Handbook–is astounding.
So, too, is the idea that the Church is by its own choice shrinking the populations it is willing to serve because it insists on holding tight to its bigotry. We’ve already seen the demise of LDS Adoption Services (driven primarily, as far as I know, because they did not want to facilitate same-sex adoptions), and the serious retraction in services offered by LDS Family Services (as their therapists are constrained in the kinds of therapies they are permitted by the Church to offer). No number of new logos or name changes will make us look Christian in the face of such unchristian behavior.
Jesus said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
I believe it.
*My daughter’s favorite song is Speechless, which seems fitting here.
**Updating this to add additional resources as I find them:
BYU Chooses Fealty Over Ethics by Denying Voice Therapy to Trans Community
 I’ll generally say “BYU,” but I acknowledge that many–maybe most–of BYU faculty and administration could be unhappy with this decision. My guess is the decision was dictated from somewhere else.
Thank you Elisa for addressing this important topic.
From the ASHA Statement:
“BYU’s decision does not align with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ policies and guidelines. According to section 38.6.23 of the General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “transgender individuals face complex challenges. Members and nonmembers who identify as transgender—and their family and friends—should be treated with sensitivity, kindness, compassion, and an abundance of Christlike love.”
“Moreover, the General Handbook acknowledges and provides latitude for other forms of medical care to be provided to transgender individuals. Section 38.6.23 of the General Handbook states, “some children, youth, and adults are prescribed hormone therapy by a licensed medical professional to ease gender dysphoria or reduce suicidal thoughts.” It is incongruous that voice and communication services would be singled out for elimination, especially with the positive impact of gender affirming practices.”
This organization has done their homework! This isn’t just a liberal organization that hates religion. They have sought to understand the argument and find BYU and the Church’s position to be inconsistent.
Really at the end of the day, all of the issues come back to empathy. When a transgender person tells me their experience, I believe them. The Church does not. I wonder what Jesus would do?
Thanks you Elisa for calling attention to this issue. It’s received too little attention on Twitter and that leaves me quite surprised. I agree with everything you write, wholeheartedly. And thank you Chadwick for providing an enlightening summary of ASHA’s statement–it leaves me even more disappointed with CES and the board of education.
I am no expert on transgenderism or gender dysphoria other than to know it is a complicated phenomenon and those who fall into this category often suffer badly and need our full understanding and support as humble servants of Christ.
Just when I think BYU can’t make me feel more ashamed as an alumnus, it finds a new low. Frankly, I’m tired of feeling helpless. I withdrew my financial support from BYU in 2016 (which I considered to be generous) and wrote Kevin Worthen a direct letter about the problems with the Title IX issue and the university, and asked for a reply. I received none. I had a frank discussion with my bishop and later my stake president, both of whom were empathetic and agreed with many of my concerns. Both shrugged and said there was nothing they could do.
Since then I have shifted my focus to help and donate to organizations whose mission is to support marginalized students at BYU. Still, I feel like I’m slowly dragging myself away from a church and the university I love(d). I feel depressed I can’t do a thing to effect institutional change.
I’ve said it before here on W&T, but I’ll say it again. I feel a sense of relief none of my children attended or will attend BYU (my last will head east this fall). They have all studied ethics and morality at their respective institutions. They have discovered that others outside the Mormon bubble are deeply committed to studying the good and acting in accordance with it. Paradoxically, I feel they have become much better human beings and disciples of Christ by not having attended BYU. This makes me happy for them, but sad for myself and the alma matter for which I had so much affection.
I can’t help but view these kinds of “policy-driven” decisions at BYU as a betrayal of basic Christen principles to which we are all bound. It’s clear the church is hardening itself and it seems its heart is turning black towards LGBTQ+ members.
What would Jesus do? Would he tell them to pump themselves full of hormones contrary to their biological sex? Would he tell them to mutilate their genitals? Would he tell them they’re possessed of a lying spirit?
@GM all I can rely on is the experiences of our trans brothers and sisters who have indeed felt that transitioning is what they were inspired to do and improved the quality of (even saved) their lives. And I believe them. Why wouldn’t I?
@GM As a parent of a transgender child, I think you are either ignorant or hateful or both. Members like you are one reason I am so glad we stopped attending the LDS church a year ago. The Jesus you seem to believe in more like the golden idol worshipped by white nationalists than the historical Jesus or of the New Testament.
@Elisa Thank you so much for this well-written piece. While I have little hope that BYU’s board of trustees will be moved by sound reasoning, I am glad you are posting so others can be aware.
@10ac your comment means a lot. As I mentioned I am out of my comfort zone on this topic but it is important so I wanted to say something and hope to hear more from those with more experience.
I’m not trying to be a hater. I am a seeker of the truth. I have not had the experience of raising a transgender child. Please educate me as to what you think Jesus would say to you and your child.
GM, why don’t you take a shot at it? You bear the onus of answering your own question, not 10ac.
“One thing this decision is demonstrating is that Jeffrey Holland wasn’t kidding when he said the University was willing to sacrifice accreditation in furtherance of its discriminatory objectives.”
Elisa, that statement is a bit cynical for my tastes. I think Elder Holland would rather have it said that BYU would be willing to make that sacrifice in order to protect its commitment to abide by the teachings of the gospel.
@Jack, he probably did put it differently but I won’t quote that awful talk. That said, I’m not sure anyone could in good faith deny that BYU discriminates against LGBTQ folks. It literally had to get a Title IX exemption to permit such discrimination.
You might argue that the discrimination is justified (I don’t, I don’t think it has any basis in the gospel of Jesus Christ) but I do not think you can argue that it’s not “discrimination.” It just is.
Ok at the the risk of being called a hater I think he would tell them to take up their cross and bear it. I don’t know what it’s like to have gender dysphoria or to have a transgender child. I do know what it’s like to want to have relations with multiple women. I cant seem to help having those feelings sometimes. They’re very strong. I think I will be happy if I indulge myself. Will I? What would Jesus tell me?
It’s one thing for a religious organization to have these kinds of policies in place. It’s another for a “university” to operate this way, even if it is sponsored by a religious organization.
See, most Americans give their fellow citizens the benefit of the doubt when it comes to religious beliefs. That’s what makes America so different than many other countries. Believe whatever you want to believe.
However, I think universities are expected by most of us to operate with a little more uniformity. It’s not a free-for-all like religion. Sure, you have a few conservative U’s, a few moderate U’s, and many liberal U’s. But there’s still some accepted standards in place. And I guess that’s what accreditation is all about.
I don’t agree with the Church on its LGBTQ policies. But I defend it’s right to preach and practice what it wants. But not BYU. BYU is an accredited university which hands out diplomas that are supposed to stand for something besides Mormon beliefs.
Is anyone from the B12 paying attention?
(Elisa: your writing is excellent!)
GM: Jesus healed people and sought to remedy social injustice by befriending those who were powerless or marginalized in society. He challenged those who loved rules and who already had power within the Jewish structures. The Mormon Church currently is devoting itself to increasing distress for LGBTQ people, which also results in death, and to silencing those on the margins for the comfort of those who have power already, those who benefit from the status quo. That’s the opposite of the people Jesus told to take up their cross and follow Him.
Trans people have MUCH higher mortality rates due to a variety of causes, many of which can be traced back to the stress levels and suffering they endure psychologically due to policies and practices like this. The Church doesn’t care. It seems as though the goal is to eliminate all LGBT people from their sight so that nobody has to think about the tough questions.
The thing is, LGBTQ people aren’t hurting anyone. They are the ones being hurt, deliberately in many cases. Why must we be on the wrong side of this?
Elisa: “You might argue that the discrimination is justified (I don’t, I don’t think it has any basis in the gospel of Jesus Christ) but I do not think you can argue that it’s not ‘discrimination.'”
I wouldn’t call it discrimination. BYU has a right to uphold its religious values as a church school. There should be no question about that.
Jack, it’s weird that you wouldn’t call it discrimination. Because it is discrimination. You seem to agree with discrimination but you know that sounds bad so you want to call it something else. The law allows churches and individuals to discriminate against people based on religion (you’re all for this!) but the question is whether federally subsidized schools should be allowed to. So the church can discriminate against people based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, and race. And it has (race) and does (everything else).
To those who are defending BYU/LDS Church policies and actions against our LGBT family on the basis of “the Gospel”:
There is a real problem, doctrinally and practically, with justifying the type of “othering” and discrimination the Church as an institution does in the name of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Separate the institution from the Gospel and you will find it easier to live the highest commandments our Savior actually announced. Love God, love your neighbor as yourself, love one another, feed his lambs and his sheep, leave the 99 and assist the one back into our fold, etc. His time and efforts among the marginalized and socially disadvantaged should also educate our practices and beliefs more than they often do.
We are much better off to get away from this tribal, institution-before-gospel form of religion.. What does it harm you to extend grace and love to those who experience challenges in this life you cannot possibly understand? A policy like this brings unnecessary contention to our lives.
I know the arguments those who support the Church promote, I’ve heard them all, and they are by and large incongruent with the statements, personal example, and mission of Christ as recorded in the New Testament. It gives further proof to the argument that the Church and Gospel are not the same thing.
So the Church as an institution can make its own choices and policies but it cannot evade the consequences that has on its members, nor does it get to fundamentally change the Gospel of Christ. Promoting these policies seems to put up walls and force many good people to make a choice that isn’t necessary, and more are choosing Love over the institution. That doesn’t mean they should leave the Church or become its enemy, but there will be Church-manufactured contention as a result and it’s wholly unnecessary and avoidable.
The Bensonian Project rolls on, smashing or damaging everything in its path. No leader has arisen in this correlated kingdom to redirect the institution into more Christlike paths and so far as I can tell, none are likely to. The large plurality for Trump tells our leaders they’re in the groove, ETB would be proud, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. That $100B in the bank seals the deal, obviously the Lord’s imprimatur for a job well done. Sorry, progressives, God wears a MAGA hat.
I have personal experience with the challenges BYU grads will face from the effect these decisions have on BYU’s reputation and accreditation. About 10 years after I finished my masters degree from BYU, the school closed my degree program because they did not want to be held to national standards. My degree immediately became a liability. Potential employers were understandably skeptical that BYU grads would follow those national standards. Fortunately, I had been out of school long enough that my work history generally mattered more than my academic history. I faced significant challenge to that degree only once, when the State of Utah wanted to hire me to manage a program that required Library of Congress approval for my hiring. But my experience is that these decisions do have repercussions for people with degrees from BYU. I’m relieved that I’m nearing retirement. I’m so tired of this battle.
Also, as the parent of a gay child who feels that the clearest answer to prayer I’ve ever received was telling me that my responsibility is to make sure she knows she is always loved and always an integral part of our family–I’m tired of this battle as well.
@GM exactly what Angela said. You having relationships with multiple women arguably hurts those women.
Who does a transgender person transitioning hurt? Who does a gay person having a committed, loving, loyal relationship with someone of their same sex hurt?
I think that’s a big difference.
I think when BigSky said “why don’t you give it a shot” they meant why don’t you start learning about it. There are lots of interviews with and stories from transgender folks that might give you more insight into what it’s like. I agree it can be hard to understand if you haven’t had a family member or personal experience, but that’s why it’s great to have access to so many accounts from people we wouldn’t otherwise come into contact with. We can start learning.
Look up Laurie Lee Hall for starters and you might learn something. I bet there are some episodes on the podcast “Listen Learn Love” with transgender guests and that would be a great place to start.
In the letter BYU President wrote to defend against the federal inquiry, they said:
“BYU maintains that the text, structure, purpose, and history ofTitle IX make clear that the term ‘sex’
is not ambiguous and refers only to biological differences between males and females, and therefore
Title IX does not apply to discrimination “on the basis of’ sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Click to access brigham-young-university-request-11192021.pdf
BYU is literally carving out a religious exemption to allow _discrimination_ on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. And they use the word discrimination to describe it.
The Church feels that its purpose is to provide teachings, rites, etc. that allow a path to the highest heaven in the hereafter. Without sealing to a spouse in its temples, the highest heaven is not available. The Church denies these rites to queer people: it doesn’t really even recognize them as people.
Since they aren’t really people, it justifies its discrimination against them.
I believe I’ve heard or read that no matter the acceptance level of a society on LGBTQ issues the level of suicide ideation does not abate. This would suggest to me that this is a spiritual battle. To suggest no one is harmed by advocating for these issues is naive. The more society tolerates these aberrations, resistance for others such as pedophilia and polygamy loses ground. Female athletes are harmed by men transitioning to women and competing with women. Society loses its moral rectitude. Is it better for a nation to perish so that a minority can indulge their perversions? Sorry if my language sounds harsh but remember I am not allowed to indulge my perverted desires as some might be hurt. How is tolerance of LGBTQ perversions any different?
@GM you started out earlier comments suggesting a willingness to learn more but your comments aren’t reflecting that openness (and you certainly haven’t had time to do any listening to trans stories since your last comments). You are talking about and to readers of this blog and their friends and family and your words are inconsistent with the Handbook’s instruction to show an abundance of Christlike love to LGBTQ folks.
Please listen and learn more. I know these ideas may be confronting and new but I know few people who haven’t been moved to revisit their assumptions once they start listening. Richard Ostler’s book Listen Learn Love would be a really great place to start (or his podcast). It’s very respectful of LDS beliefs (he is active LDS) but also gives great insight into the experiences of LGBTQ folks.
As for your suicide stat, you’ve not cited evidence and that is not what I have seen. On the contrary, research (including terrific research by the Family Acceptance Project – look it up) suggests that acceptance greatly improves mental health outcomes.
You are comparing lustful pleasures with something that is totally different. To be able to live authentically LGBTQ+ is very often life saving. I find it offensive the way you are trivializing the issue.
Thank you Elisa for a very thoughtful round up of the whole issue. I expect the BYU board of governors received direction from elsewhere. It’s been a rough week in Mormondom.
Please stop attacking me personally. I’m not calling anyone stupid or offensive. I am trying to understand and get at the truth of this matter. Please explain how it is total different? How is being gay not a lust of the flesh? How is being transgender not a lust of the flesh?
@GM in the exact same sense that a heterosexual man wanting to be in intimate relationship (in many ways, like emotional, not just physical) with a woman is not “lustful.”
Homosexuality is not just about who people want to have sex with anymore than a heterosexual relationship is purely about sex. That is reductive and, yes, insulting, and that’s why I keep asking you to start doing some research because these are concepts that have been discussed and rebutted a million times over if you care to do some research.
I don’t at all see what transgenderism has to do with lust. Again, do some research on gender dysphoria.
You keep saying you’re trying to understand and get to the truth of the matter. Have you looked at any of the resources I’ve directed you to? They all address your questions. You won’t come to an understanding in these blog comments. You will come to an understanding by listening.
You are the one’s who reduced my argument to a mere satisfaction of lust. I did not get offended. You seem to be suggesting a man cannot be intimate and loving to more than one woman. Are you ok with polygamy? Are you ok with polyamory? Are you ok with pedophilia? Are you ok with necrophilia? Where do we draw the line?
Is there no such thing as tough love? Don’t we use tough love all the time to train our children? Why do we have to accept the aberrations when it comes to the LGBTQ?
GM – By your definition, being hetrosexual is a “lust of the flesh”. And of course, there is that element. But a committed hetrosexual marriage/relationship is much more. So is a committed same sex relationship.
The flaw in your logic is that you equate sexual orientation and gender identity with sex acts.
I agree with the W&T community: take a breath, and learn enough about LGBTQ+ relationships to begin to feel uncomfortable with your current position. Then – living between the contraries – you will be in a better position to logically and spiritually reach an understanding.
You may end up right on back where you are now – but at least your will have a better informed position.
I have listened to Mormon stories and other podcasts regarding these issues and I certainly empathize with people who have these challenges. We all have challenges in this life. Remember the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. Alma 45:16
@GM you asked why you couldn’t have multiple sexual partners but a gay person could be gay. I was explaining one possible difference – ie, the way that having multiple sexual partners *could* be harmful in a way that a committed same-sex relationship is not.
Both heterosexual and homosexual relationships can be selfish and harmful, or caring and helpful. It is the quality of the relationship that matters—not the biological sex of the people in the relationship. You seem to think there is something inherently wrong with a same sex relationship even if it’s the most loving and committed and selfless and pure relationship ever otherwise, merely because it involved people of the same sex. And I disagree.
I have no idea your personal situation, what kind of consent and transparency is involved, etc etc and this isn’t a post about polyamory.
Comparing LGBTQ relationships to pedophilia and other nonconsensual and harmful sexual practices that have *real victims* is absolutely atrocious and you need to stop it now.
I’ve mentioned already a lot of resources for you to look at and if you are continuing to make those kinds of comparisons it’s clear that you aren’t looking at anything.
This is a post about BYU’s policy. I’ve been happy to direct you to some resources if you want to learn more, but I think we are at the end of the road on debating whether same sex relationships are “aberrations”. I won’t debate that because you are calling people here, and people in my family, and their relationships aberrations and comparing them to sexual predators and pedophiles that’s not acceptable.
People have responded to your questions and directed you to resources, so it’s time to get back on topic and in the meantime I will just put in my final plug for the resources I’ve pointed out earlier. They answer your questions, I promise, so going over it in blog comments is really not a great use of resources.
@GM where’s the scripture in Alma that says that gay marriage is a sin? Oh wait … none.
You are starting from the assumption that it’s a sin and then trying to justify it. My strong belief is that assumption is incorrect, so no amount of sympathy or justification will make sense.
My intention isn’t to pile on and you ask us not to keep attacking you but as Elisa suggests – it’s all about educating ourselves. You used these words – “Why do we have to accept the aberrations when it comes to the LGBTQ?” in a way suggesting that it’s something they chose. If you were to have a close family member or friend that you dearly loved reveal to you a different orientation than your own wouldn’t you see more clearly, perhaps after being witness to their pain to understand that it wasn’t something they chose – it was how God created them. To not allow them full fellowship in every way in the church we ‘other’ them. Not in the same way that we othered blacks but also not that dissimilar.
I think GM may be confusing a reference to homosexual prostitution with gay marriage–which certainly isn’t the same thing. Even so, the Law of Chastity does establish strict boundaries for sexual relations between people. And so, even though I would never categorize LGBTQ attractions and feelings as sin–any relations outside the boundaries that the Lord has established is sin regardless of one’s orientation.
@Jack, I disagree that the “the Lord” is the one making up rules about gay marriage.
Great article on this here:
@phbrown- I second your comment “The Church feels that its purpose is to provide teachings, rites, etc. that allow a path to the highest heaven in the hereafter.” I feel like that is a really accurate description of what is going on. I feel like for the church to keep it’s integrity- it can’t teach that same-sex marriage is okay, and that you can still inherit the highest degree of heaven- because the church would be teaching something it believes to be false.
I don’t agree that the church doesn’t recognize queer people as people- but I can see how you would get there based on their policies. The policies that they come up with do seem to baffle me. It seems like the church could keep it’s integrity and it’s current doctrines/beliefs and offer every blessing to gay individuals other than a temple sealing. (Baptism, priesthood ordination, marriage in the chapels, etc…). Without a change in doctrine I don’t see how the church could be honest to itself and offer temple sealings for same sex marriages- but short of that, I don’t know of a reason why the church couldn’t have policies that are much more accepting of gay individuals.
@aporecti, if you’re interested, Blaire Ostler’s book Queer Mormon Theology gives excellent explanations for how gay marriage actually can and does fit into our theology.
If you’re not up for reading the whole book, there are tons of podcasts with interviews of Blaire where she gives an overview. But the book is great. And Blaire loves Mormonism – the book is really beautiful. I know some folks might be hesitant to read that kind of thing but I think many would be surprised at how much she loves the gospel & is positive about things (rather than just critical).
Didn’t God make us male and female and males are to leave their parents and cleave unto their wives? Where do the scriptures say that some men or women are born gay and should lie with their own kind?
@GM read this. And all the other stuff I mentioned.
You are not making any arguments that people familiar with these issues haven’t heard, and addressed, many times. If this is newer to you I appreciate the engagement but so much work has already be done that addresses your questions that it is not a good use of comments, which are now really far off course of the post, which is about BYU denying medical services to trans folks. Not about whether trans folks are sinners.
I’ve concluded, for myself, that GM is trolling. They refuse to access information suggested, and constantly imply that queer people are sinful aberrations. Your mileage may differ.
@Elisa Thanks. I’ll check it out.
Elisa: “I disagree that the ‘the Lord’ is the one making up rules about gay marriage.”
How about any of the other restrictions imposed by the Law of Chastity?
@jack that’s a good question that is well outside the scope of this post, which is about BYU refusing to provide medical treatment to transgender people.
For now I’ll just say that many LGBTQ folks would be happy to follow the law of chastity if it allowed them to date and marry just like heterosexual people can. Because as had been mentioned above, gay marriage is about a lot more than sex (just as straight marriage is about a lot more than sex). So, I don’t think calling out the law of chastity is apples to apples and you’re making the same mistake as GM in reducing homosexuality to sex.
I’m not trying to reduce homosexuality to sex–at least I don’t mean to–sorry if I come across that way. But what I am trying to do is provide a rational reason for the seeming discrimination at BYU.
“LGBTQ folks would be happy to follow the law of chastity if it allowed them to date and marry just like heterosexual people can.”
But then it wouldn’t be the Law of Chastity they were following. It would be something else.
“I don’t think calling out the law of chastity is apples to apples…”
I do–because it is a simple straightforward law set forth in plain terms that we agree to live by covenant. And anything that falls outside the parameters it establishes is in violation of it.
@jack, the law of chastity says no sex before marriage. The church has now added “oh yeah and only marriage the way we define marriage” but if they hadn’t done that, gay people could follow the law of chastity by, like straight people, not having sex before they get married.
But – that is still beside the point. What about changing the pitch or tone of a person’s voice violates the law of chastity? What does transitioning have to do with the law of chastity? I know you’re trying to make a broader point about justifying discriminatory treatment of LGBTQ folks but this is, again, about BYU denying medical services in its speech and language lab. It has zero to do with chastity or “sin” because AFAIK talking in a higher or lower voice isn’t a sin.
I read it and I see no conclusive indisputable truth that LGBTQ people are born that way. There is nothing I am aware of in scripture that says God made gay people. Correcet me if I’m wrong but neither science nor Lady Gaga has found a gay gene or other incontrovertible proof they were born that way. No doubt all people are predisposed to certain traits that are contrary to the (W)Holiness of God. We all have our crosses to bear, our dragons to slay.
No one seems to recognize the harm that acceptance of perversion has on society as a whole and families in particular? Can anyone argue society is safer and better, especially for our children, since alternative lifestyles have become acceptable options to the traditional family? Is their more or less gender confusion now than before? Have the institutions of marriage and family, the very pillars of civilization, been strengthened by this acceptance? Passions must be bridled in the bounds the Lord has set. He is an all knowing and loving God that we depart from at our own peril.
p.s. We are all sinful aberrations and fall short of the Glory of God.
p.s. We are all sinful aberrations and fall short of the Glory of God. Shouldnt we all encourage one another in a loving way to aspire and strive to that Glory and not settle for something less?
Elisa, I think I see the point you’re trying to make. I suppose that if (say) a character actor were to receive speech therapy to help her play a part in a movie the church would have nothing to say about it–it wouldn’t even appear on its radar. But to receive that kind of service at a church owned clinic when it is part of a transformational process that is strictly forbidden by the church–that’s a different ballgame entirely. It would be like the church passing out contraceptives to teenagers. That’ll never happen because they do want to do anything that might encourage young people to break the commandments
*don’t* want to do anything…
Nice Freudianism, eh?
I agree with much of what you say. I’d be careful, though, not to assume that LGBTQ folks can change their orientation because there’s no conclusive proof a “gay gene.” It’s far more complex than that–and folks cannot simply wish themselves into a different orientation. While I do think there’s a wide spectrum of intensity within the scope of a given orientation it’s a known quantity that many LGBTQ folks cannot change their orientation–and I think it’s wrong for us to expect them to.
That said, I agree that the demise of the family is a huge problem–fatherlessness being the single greatest social problem in the U. S.
@GM you have made your opinions on this matter clear multiple times and I am skeptical that you came to learn like you said initially. We all know where you stand so you can stop now. Your comments are also outside the scope of the post.
@jack yes, that’s obviously the church’s argument. And I’m saying there are serious downsides to that. Just as their are downsides to failing to teach teenagers about safe sex. If they are going to be having sex whether or not you give them contraceptives, why not help them do so in a safe way?
Still waiting for them to discover the heterosexual gene.
Elisa, that’s not actually correct. Or rather, it’s incomplete. Presuming the recitation in the temple is the authoritative version, then it is this: (pre-1990)
To the sisters, it is that no one of you will have sexual intercourse except with your husband to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded. To the brethren it is that no one of you will have sexual intercourse except with your wife to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded.
Or shorter: (post-1990)
which is that each of you shall have no sexual relations except with your husband or wife to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded.
Unless you want to make the argument that the Church’s definition of the LOC changed in 1990, there is no room in current LDS doctrine for homosexual sexual relations to be compliant with the LOC.
@anon, in 1990 and post-1990 it wasn’t possible to be legally and lawfully married to someone of the same sex. Actually the post-1990 could completely be interpreted to allow sex within marriage and does not specify same sex marriage or not. That’s since been changed IIRC to clarify now that same sex marriage is legal.
To be clear I’m not arguing that the LDS church ever permitted gay marriage. I’m not a dummy. I am saying *why not?*
More importantly, in this post, which is not about LDS theology (I am assuming that BYU’s decision is consistent-ish with Church policy), or the law of chastity which has nothing to do with this particular issue, I’m saying, why does an LDS Church policy in the handbook (which governs the Church not BYU) mean that a federally-funded university can deny medical treatment to community members who want to change the pitch or tone of their voice without injuring their vocal cords and so that they can have improved psychological outcomes and avoid bullying. *That* is the point of this post.
Elisa, your patience is commendable.
That ASHA statement is interesting the way it makes reference to the General Handbook; I suspect it was written or contributed to by a church member.
@series of tubes I understand the legal exemption. I’m talking about morality and ethics and reason and the right thing to do.
Wow, Elisa is taking a lot of flak from a few rather rigid extremists — that criticism really ought to be directed elsewhere. Possibly at BYU, which after all offered these services through its clinic for (apparently) several years. Possibly at LDS leaders, who have slowly but surely directed the membership to treat LGBT persons and members with a good deal of support and compassion. Possibly at God, who somehow presides over a natural world that creates a wide variety of humans with a wide variety of sexual and psychological predilections, rather than adopting a simple black and white, male or female, gay or straight plan. How dare God make a messy and complicated world rather than the simple one in your head you want to use as a club to verbally beat folks who don’t see the world or the gospel or the Church in your simplistic terms.
More generally, everyone ought to buy and read Gregoary A. Prince’s book Gay Rights and the Mormon Church (U of U Press, 2019). It gives an up-to-date objective scientific discussion of these emerging sexuality issues, along with a historical and doctrinal review of the LDS Church’s attempt to understand (sometimes just ignore) these issues and craft some sort of workable official response — which of course is not a fixed response or position but changes over time.
I have 2 kids who receive comprehensive speech therapy for different reasons (one has a stutter, one is mostly non-verbal). I’ve seen the progress they have made thus far and I am very thankful they have such therapies available to them. I also have firsthand experience going to battle with insurance companies for their chronic unwillingness to pay for my kids’ speech therapies, despite fully qualifying. I usually win, but it’s so exhausting having to jump through hoops and clear the arbitrary hurdles that seem to pop up every year, especially when the rules change. I’m convinced there is still a certain critical mass of curmudgeonly bureaucrats out there who believe that speech therapy is a luxury item that should only be there for those who can afford it out-of-pocket, like Hollywood actors learning accents for specific roles. My own boomer parents were somewhat dismayed upon learning that their grandkids are in speech therapy, but I had to explain that it doesn’t have negative stigma now like it did in their day. I imagine this antiquated thinking is partly what is driving the BYU decision to curtail their speech services, along with LDS moral panic about acceptance of trans people (also echoed by my boomer parents, natch).
That said, my heart breaks for these young trans people at BYU who already run up against roadblocks to full personhood. I really don’t care what happens to BYU institutionally, but I hope these folks manage to find a healthy way forward to the rest of their lives.
God made us the way we are and doesn’t expect us to change? Except if you are transgender? Then he put you in the wrong body and wants you to cut into healthy tissue to change yourself? How does the “god made us the way we are” which is used to support the gay and lesbian community merge with the transgender community? Which is clearly arguing that they AREN’T in the correct body? Surgery is terrible for the body. On some level you never really recover. I have a hard time with anyone that argues such drastic and destructive measures should be taken to align the body with ones thoughts about oneself.
@Reallyaskingdontgetmad – here, the BYU clinic is not performing surgeries on transgender folks. It is offering speech therapy. While I understand your larger point, I do want to remind us of the original context here.
My understanding based on research and listening to personal accounts of people who have transitioned is that surgery to address gender dysphoria greatly improved their mental health outcomes and can in many senses be life-saving. I’m definitely fine with surgeries that are life-saving and even that improve overall health! In any event, because I’m not transgender myself, this is definitely hard for me to wrap my brain around too, but I defer to the experiences of people in that community. As I have done in other comments, I would encourage anyone who experiences discomfort around these topics to lean into that discomfort as an opportunity to learn more, and take the opportunity to listen to the experiences and stories of our transgender brothers and sisters. Even if you leave disagreeing, at the very least you may develop more empathy for people, which IMO is what Jesus was all about. Jesus literally took on all our pains so that he could understand us better. The least we can do is listen to other people’s pain so we can understand them better.
And the larger question here I guess for you and some of the others who have commented is that if you feel that surgery is drastic and harmful (again, surgery isn’t at issue here but I’m using your example), I suppose my advice to you would be to not get surgery yourself. But I don’t think that gives you or anyone the right to tell someone else that surgery is a bad option *for them.* If you think it’s wrong to change the tone or pitch of your voice, then don’t do it, but why does that mean that you’d forbid a clinic from offering those services to people for whom it provides real emotional, psychological, and even physical protection?
I mentioned in the beginning of my post that I am not an expert on this topic. TBH I know a lot more about sexual orientation than I do gender identity, and this is an area I am still learning about. But I am willing to listen and to learn. And I also know — from my experience with other groups — that loving people means believing them and honoring their choices.
I’ll close this comment out with a reaction I saw today from Laura Skaggs, a therapist who has spent years working with LGBTQ clients and their families. She puts it so beautifully:
“Believe Trans People. Jesus never policed gender or made it a required stepping stone on the path towards greater light and divinity. It’s not ok for BYU to cut off trans related care and services to this high risk community. That is not the gospel of Jesus Christ in action. If gender expression has anything to do with righteousness, it’s this: when people get to show up comfortably as themselves, they have more peace, calm and energy to give and to serve; they are able to let their light shine.”
I must admit that this is a complex and often highly-charged topic. I’m a Dragon Dad – a group for fathers of LGBTQIA+ kids. Even within our ranks, some dads who give and receive support for LGB can be quite vocally transphobic. They are reminded that we’re there for all the letters, not just the straightforward ones.
Before I go on – what I’m going to talk about is none of our business. We simply do not ask certain questions to satisfy our curiosity.
Some individuals that transition do not choose to have surgery on their genitals. A transwoman may keep her male genitalia and may be sexually attracted to either men or women (or both). And so on. It can get hard to wrap one’s brain around the permutations.
But we don’t have to. We’re rarely even asked to. We ARE called to see a person. A child of God – in whatever sense that phrase means to you. We are called to love a fellow human being. Do that and you’ll be happier and both they AND we will be blessed by it.
If there is something for God to sort out, let GOD do it. We are utterly incapable of that and presume way too much to try – actually overstepping our bounds. Love one another doesn’t really work when we put qualifiers on it.
As my grandma would have said, “BYU – put that in your pipe and smoke it!”
I’m late to the discussion. This is a well-thought out post, Elisa, and it brings up some important ideas about personal autonomy and someone else’s religious beliefs (as commenters like GM and Jack and etc have illustrated). Why do religious people feel like other people should conform to their beliefs? Spread religious ideals even if you can’t spread religious beliefs.
And that’s where I think BYU is finding the justification for this policy. As Elisa points out, it isn’t a sin to speak with a higher or lower voice. Vocal coaching for an acting role, or addressing a speech impediment is fine. This new limit only applies to trans people who want to speak more in line with their gender.
This decision is also not about a church’s ability to determine criteria for its own membership or proclaim its own beliefs. I do not believe the transgender patients were BYU students and so this is not about BYU enforcing its honor code against its own student population. It is about BYU deciding that clinics open to the public will deny medical services to the public if it deems those medical services to be inconsistent with its sponsoring religious institution’s policy, and asking a school medical clinic to go against the applicable standard of care and to violate the relevant professional organization’s code of ethics.
Leaders teach the ideal. Strive to live as close to the ideal as you can, say the Brethren. There is compassion (and/or judgment) extended to those who cannot live by the ideal, but not much attention and certainly no meaningful revelation on where the non-ideal fit. Whether it’s as close to the ideal as Pres Oaks chuckling at a second wife who wants to know more about her place in the eternities (at least she’s straight and married), or being gay or transgender, if you aren’t ideal, the Church doesn’t want to accommodate that seriously. Maybe they’re worried that people will aspire to not being ideal if that’s a respectable option.
The ideal Church member is not trans. This isn’t about sin or righteousness, or about religious freedom or tolerance. Trans people are not ideal, and the Church shrinks away from helping people become even less ideal. I guess trans vocal coaching would be like the Church sponsoring a dance for the LGBT crowd. The Church acknowledges their right to exist, and even says to treat them politely, but they draw the line at facilitating a non-ideal life.
That failure to engage with the non-ideal hurts a lot of people. So few are ideal anymore, and yet the Church continues to draw its circle smaller and smaller.
@Janey I think that’s right. Unfortunately I think these policies stem much more from revulsion and discomfort with people considered “non-ideal” (I think that’s putting it gently – words used in the comments here were more like aberrations and perversions) than they do about “sin.” We are back to the purity / clean / unclean model that Jesus tried so hard to overturn.
Many LGBTQ need to take some responsibility for the perception of them being non-ideal. When their agenda is forced upon the populace, children indoctrinated in public schools, accommodation given to potential predators to enter what should be safe places for females, allowance given for biological males to compete and dominate woman sports, etc it is not just difficult to accept them but morally imperative to publicly oppose them.
It’s also hard to have much sympathy for BYU students who agreed to live by a certain standard of conduct to then openly protest against the school. It smacks of insincerity and perfidy. That said please don’t peg me as some kind of apologist for the church or their schools. I don’t like a lot of things I see in the church: leader worship, elitism, strict dogmatism and emphasis of obedience over personal conscience being paramount of those concerns. Temple worship in the modern church has become elitist and exclusionary, echoes of ancient Israelite practices that Christ so railed against. I would agree there does need to be more mourning with those who mourn and bearing of one another’s burdens.
There are LGBTQ I have a lot of respect and even admiration for such as Dave Rubin and Caitlin (Bruce) Jenner. I don’t agree with all they stand for but they demonstrate in their words and actions a level of courage, intelligence and self awareness that is truly remarkable. They show an ability for true tolerance that is sorely lacking in the progressive liberal camp. I would suggest they show some humility and clean up their own rooms, as Jordan Petersen would advise, before they presume to dictate to the rest of society how to think and act.
@GM that’s got nothing to do with whether providers who want to provide medical care and patients who want to receive that medical care should be prohibited from doing so or whether it was appropriate for BYU to make decisions based on federally-protected private medical information, or really anything else in the post.
I’m glad you’ve found some LGBTQ folks who share your political views who you’ve been able to relate to / learn from and I hope you continue to listen even to those who might not.
In the meantime, comments about the “gay agenda”, comparing them to predators, or othering them as “non-ideal” are not welcome here. Again, please remember that many readers here are either or have close friends and family members who are LGBTQ and about whom you have time and again said some incredibly hurtful things. I hope you’ll reconsider some of the language you’ve been using as it is not consistent with the Church’s injunction to remember that LGBTQ folks have faced unique and wrenching challenges and should be treated with an abundance of Christlike love.
How do Church and university leaders come me up with this stuff? Do they stay up nights obsessing over every little detail of LGBTQ issues? Surely there are better things for them to do with their time. Like doing more on Church Mission #4: helping the poor. Talk to Sharon Eubanks.
Discriminating against the LGBTQ community is a losing proposition. Just ask the members. This discrimination has little or no basis in scripture. And don’t quote the OT to me.
I don’t believe that God discriminates against Blacks, Native Americans, the LBGTQ community, Orientals, etc.
The point of this post as stated multiple times by Elisa: Why does an LDS Church policy in the handbook (which governs the Church not BYU) mean that a federally-funded university can deny medical treatment to community members who want to change the pitch or tone of their voice without injuring their vocal cords and so that they can have improved psychological outcomes and avoid bullying.
Maybe because it is also a church-funded university?? I know virtually nothing about how the university is funded, but I’m under the impression that a portion of its funding comes from the church. Given that, I suspect that is why the church can influence decisions like this. I feel like I’m just stating the obvious here though, right?? Any institution or company, whether religious or not, is somewhat beholden to those providing funds.
If the answer to the above referenced question is this simple, it would seem like the post could be about something more than that. Perhaps that is why responses have been all over the place.
Thank you Elisa. I appreciate your response. I really am trying to understand other’s perspectives. And I totally agree that its none of my business.
I am late to this post but since I am, and have been an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) for 20 years I felt the need to share my thoughts and experiences.
ASHA takes their code of ethics very seriously and individuals can and do lose their individual SLP certification for violating the code of ethics. (I even called in to make sure I wasn’t going be in violation of it due to client abandonment if I left a position mid-year.) The standard of care for LBGTQ individuals was in their code of ethics when I was in college over 20 years ago, so it is not new. We talked about it in class and what it meant. Speech-language pathology is like other medical fields you can’t discriminate on care.
However, I can say that not every work setting for a SLP is going to run into these issues. The field is very broad, and personally I feel should break into specialities a bit more. For example I have only worked with 1 voice client in 20 years of practice, which is the area of practice where LBGTQ transitioning individuals would fall. So if someone felt like it went against their religious beliefs to treat these individuals there are areas where you are less likely going to have it come up in practice (early intervention, adult rehab.-strokes, etc.).
But the bottom line is that you cannot discriminate in providing services, so I don’t see BYU maintaining their ASHA accreditation. Which is sad based on the shortage we currently have in this field and in this state. USU has had an excellent program but the amount of master degree level candidates I have seen exit their program has gotten smaller. The University of Utah also had a good program, but the shortfall hurts now and without BYU it will only get worse.
To me it seems like a small hill (as I said the level of skills in speech-language pathology is vast) for them to kill a program on. I am sorry to see it happen.
@anonymous that is super helpful background!
I must say I can’t figure this one out. There have been some moves BYU has made that I didn’t like but I could see were probably designed to provide legal protection to the school (like preserve its ability not to offer married student housing to gay students and avoid getting sued over it). But this one with the clinic I seriously do not understand. It doesn’t seem like there’s a legal angle – just discrimination for the sake of discrimination.