Students at Baylor University, the nation's largest Baptist higher education institution, are asking the National Collegiate Athletic Association to review the school's policies and treatment of LGBT students.
The Waco Tribune reports that letters were sent to leaders of both the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference last month from a group of Baylor students that included members of Gamma Alpha Upsilon.
Gamma Alpha Upsilon, which advertises itself as "Baylor's unofficial gay club," has for years unsuccessfully sought recognition from the Texas university as an official on-campus student group since its founding in 2011.
The letters urge both entities to review Baylor's campus policies for compliance with Title IX civil rights law.
The letters also called for the bodies to review the school's overall treatment of LGBT students, stating that LGBT students have faced "particular targeting and harassment on Baylor’s campus" in recent months.
"We write to you as current LGBTQ+ and allied Baylor University students and recent graduates who have been engaged in efforts to ensure that Baylor University’s campus is safe, secure, and hospitable to LGBTQ+ students,” the letters read.
Although Title IX protects people from discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs, the Obama administration unilaterally expanded its interpretation of Title IX to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
But the Trump administration scrapped the Obama-era interpretation of Title IX.
In a statement provided to the Waco Tribune, a university spokesperson stressed that Baylor is compliant with Title IX law.
“Baylor is committed to providing a loving and caring community for all students, including those who identify as LGBTQ,” the statement assured. “We believe that Baylor is in a unique position to meet the needs of our LGBTQ students because of our Christian mission and the significant campuswide support we already provide to all students.”
In April, the organization BU for Bears sent a petition signed by thousands from the Baylor community to Baylor President Linda Livingstone and Vice President Kevin Jackson asking them to reconsider the exclusion of LGBT student organizations.
"The impact of this exclusion goes beyond campus logistics," the April letter argues. "A substantial body of social, scientific, medical, and psychological literature documents the harmful impacts of exclusion and stigmatization of the physical, mental and emotional health of LGBT people."
Last month, members of the Baylor board of regents heard from Janet B. Dean, an Asbury University psychology professor who has extensively studied LGBT students’ experiences on Christian college campuses and is the author of the book Listening to Sexual Minorities, during a retreat.
Livingstone told the Waco Tribune after the retreat that the discussion was geared toward creating a supportive environment for LGBT students.
“It was a really good time for the board to ask questions of her and what she saw, but then to also have some discussion amongst ourselves about what that meant for Baylor,” Livingstone was quoted as saying at the time.
Inside Higher Ed reports that it remains unclear how the NCAA could intervene in Baylor's practices and the NCAA did not respond to the news outlet's request for comment.
Zachary Millner of the conservative Baylor campus group Young Americans for Freedom argued in an op-ed that Gamma Alpha Upsilon should not be given recognition at Baylor.
Millner contends that the unofficial gay club regularly uses its social media accounts to incite members against groups with whom it disagrees. He claimed that Gamma Alpha Upsilon members "regularly tears down flyers of recognized student organizations they disagree with."
"I am not altogether opposed to a group that wants to discuss the challenges facing Christianity and the LGBT community at Baylor — one of the largest Christian universities in the nation. It’s the tactics of GAY I am calling out," he wrote.
"To be clear, I am not suggesting that GAY itself is intentionally directing people to do these things. I have no evidence to that end. But if several rogue actors from a conservative campus group were doing this, there is no doubt that the entire group would be held accountable, so why isn’t GAY held to the same standard?"