Brigham Young University Suspends Gay Students
DataLounge, March 30, 2001
SALT LAKE CITY, Ut. Richard "Ricky"
Escoto, a gay Mormon and 21-year-old student, was suspended by Brigham Young
University officials for suspected honor code violations related to
allegations of gay conduct, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
The Tribune quotes Escoto as saying that while the school does not prohibit
closeted gays or lesbians from attending classes, even talking about same-sex
sexual orientation or associating with other gay men or lesbians risks
disciplinary action from school officials.
BYU, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, listed four
reasons for suspending Escoto, a sophomore from California: that he received
gifts from other men, visited gay-oriented Internet Web sites and chat rooms
on his home computer, was seen on "dates" with at least three
different men and was found kissing another man in his apartment.
Escoto denies the allegations. He says the school has "no proof of
anything," and is basing the entirety of its actions on false testimony
supplied by his "bigoted" roommates. He says the charges against him
were made shortly after he confided his "issues with same-sex
attraction" to a roommate with whom he was particularly close.
Word quickly spread among Escotos other roommates who, he says, then
turned him in to BYUs Honor Code Office. The BYU Code, which must be signed
by students upon entry into the university, contains "homosexual
conduct" in a list of sexual conduct prohibitions. The Tribune says the
reference to homosexuality was added only recently, in the late 1990s.
Carri Jenkins, a BYU spokeswoman, told The Tribune that less than 2 to 3
percent of BYUs 30,000 students are referred to the Honor Code Office
annually, most for minor dress code violations. She declined to say how many
referrals are related to gay conduct violations or how many students, like
Escoto, are suspended as a result.
Contrary to what some students believe, Jenkins said, "There are no
sting operations. No one is going out and asking students their sexual
orientation. Its not something they ask when they apply to the
News stories in the 60s and 70s reported that campus police would
perform spot checks at gay dance clubs for license plates of BYU students or
would pose as gay men and solicit sexual favors from male students.
Another student, Matthew Grierson, 21, was told in March to either withdraw
from the university or face a two-semester suspension based on similar conduct
violations. He was reprimanded for allegedly kissing a man on campus and
holding his hand at a mall off-campus but admitted only to the hand-holding.
Grierson, who was on a full academic scholarship at BYU, withdrew.
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