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BYU law school under investigation for possible discrimination

PROVO, Utah -- An investigation is underway into Brigham Young University’s law school for possible discrimination.

The American Bar Association is looking at the school's standards of expelling gay and former Mormon students.

The honor code at BYU states if a student is of a different faith they can attend the school and later become Mormon. But if a student is Mormon and wants to change their faith they can be expelled.

A group called FreeBYU says it’s time for that to change the policy.

“There's a lot of students currently at BYU who hide their faith changes because they have to if they want to graduate,” said Caleb Chamberlain Founder of FreeBYU and a BYU Alumnus.

“Part of the way through my master’s thesis I was at risk of not being able to graduate because I was undergoing a faith transition,” Chamberlain said, who graduated in electrical engineering.

A year after graduating, Chamberlain took his name off church records and then founded FreeBYU, which pushes for LDS students who lose or change their faith to finish their degree.

“Our goal is to help influence change,” Chamberlain said.

Last December almost 3,000 people signed a petition claiming BYU’s law school violates the American Bar Association's nondiscrimination guidelines by forcing LGBT members and those questioning their faith to hide that or face expulsion.

“If you're at a university you've invested two years or more of education and time there and you want to explore your faith honestly the problem is if you answer the questions in the way you don't agree with you get expelled,” Chamberlain said.

BYU released this statement to FOX13 saying, “The law school received a request for information from the ABA a couple months ago and provided the ABA the information requested we have been accredited by the ABA since 1974 and are confident that we continue to meet ABA standards.”

“It turns out accreditation is not a religious right so if they insist on not obeying the rules that any other accredited institution has to follow should they maintain their accreditation?” Chamberlain questioned.

According to the ABA's website they'll send an investigator to see if the school is compliant then pass the results onto an accrediting committee.

41 comments

  • Pete

    This was not an article about BYU being under investigation. It was an article about some disenchanted chap who doesn’t want to follow policy. It’s a private school, you knew the rules when you joined up. We understand clearly your motives. Just another hack looking for 15 minutes of fame.

    • Brown

      That argument cuts both ways. ABA is its own organization that BYU is a member of. If it wants to continue to be a member it needs to play by the ABA rules. The argument “another chap (school) doesn’t want to follow policy. It’s exactly the same.

      • AVERAGEDUDE

        @Brown
        Why do the LGBT chaps discriminate against the rests of the members of the LGBTQQIP2SAA community by excluding them from their acronym?

  • AVERAGEDUDE

    Caleb Chamberlain said he was “undergoing a faith transition”. That is the politically correct term for apostatizing which is defined as abandoning one’s religious faith. This disenchanged chap must have forgotten that he agreed to BYU’s honor code when he enrolled.

      • AVERAGEDUDE

        Dear Reverend Bruce: BYU isn’t going to change it’s honor code to accommodate sodomy, and the ABA allows faith-based law schools to adopt rules consistent with religious “affiliation or purpose.” Your same sex attraction isn’t an issue with BYU but your misbehavior is.

    • James Sneak

      If the people posting here are representative of the BYU law school, then I don’t know why anyone would wish to attend a place such as that. Clearly, the pejoratives and innuendo are relics from 1940’s cultural biases. Any major law firm should have doubts about recruiting bigoted, backward thinking attorneys graduating from BYU.

      • AVERAGEDUDE

        @ JAMES SNEAK
        Major law firms want attorneys with integrity who are honesty, and who have strong moral principles. That’s why attorneys that have graduated from the J. Reuben Clark Law School are in such high demand. They are no more bigoted than you are Mr. Sneak.

      • TRISH RAMIREZ

        Law firms are not looking for sexual deviates to represent them James. And the moral values my parents had in the 1940’s are the same ones the majority of Americans still value today. Probably why I and my family don’t worry about HIV and AIDS diseases.

    • AVERAGEDUDE

      @AVERAGEDUDE
      Nice try dude. It is spelled “I’m” with an apostrophe. It’s obvious you are an idiot. The question is whether you deviate from the norm dude? A little light in the loafers perhaps?

  • alexmjennings

    I would expect a lawyer to understand that if you enter into a contract then decide to violate the terms of said contract there will be repercussions to which you also agreed. A BYU education is highly subsidized by tithes of the faithful and you entered it under the conditions that you would also be faithful, Mr. Chapman.
    Perhaps BYU should expell these students BUT then alow them to reapply under their new conditions (E.g. non-LDS) so that they can be under an agreement that is fair and honest for both parties.
    Mr. Chapman violated his “contract” twice, by apostatizing and by lying about it. I would never want a lawyer like him.

    • Brown

      BYU is also under contract with the ABA… The ABA could say all professors need to have pink ties. So you either wear pink ties or don’t be ABA accredited. It’s the same concept as a BYU student signing up. Maybe BYU should read the rules of what it means to be ABA accredited. It’s baffling people are arguing that students signed up and should follow the rules but refuse to follow that same standard for BYU.

      • AVERAGEDUDE

        @Brown
        What specific accreditation requirements of the ABA is BYU violating, and what is this BS about a “faith transition”? Who came up with that bogus name for apostacy?

      • Brown

        @averagedude – ABA standard code 205 (a) clearly stats: A law school shall not use admission policies or take other action to preclude admission of applicants or RETENTION OF STUDENTS on the bases of race, color, RELIGION, national origin, gender, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, age, or disability.

        (c) of the same standard allows for some freedom in regards to private schools. Its extremely narrow. it can’t conflict with (b) (read that one yourself) and it only allows as much room as protected by the constitution, not the state constitution or the schools bylaws. it cannot be applied to retention of students based on religion. its all in the contract BYU signed. If BYU doesn’t want to follow those rules they don’t have to. They don’t have to be ABA accredited.

        You do not have to agree that the policy is fair… but at least admit the argument has to go both ways. just as the student should have known the standards BYU requires, so should BYU know the standards the ABA requires.

      • Brown

        That is just a throw away response. Most likely BYU is going to have to eventually allow students who switch religions to maintain being a student. Maybe not this time. but eventually. It doesn’t make sense to exclude someone who decides to stop being mormon unless they are also not following the code of ethics. Accreditation is a privilege, not a right.

      • Brown

        I hope BYU doesn’t lose its accreditation. its a good law school. but i do find it enjoyable that BYU is facing the criticism it doles out to everyone whenever someone doesn’t agree with BYU. I find it baffling that BYU supports don’t see how they logically are the exact time thing.

      • AVERAGEDUDE

        When Caleb Chamberlain violated the terms and conditions of the contract he made with BYU he suffered the specific terms set forth in that contract. There are numerous students at BYU that have a same sex attraction orientation. As long as that attraction doesn’t translate into inappropriate behavior they are welcome there.

  • HarryStamper

    Hey Brown….you quote the ABA code…and capitalize sexual orientation…BYU does not discriminate on applicants or students because of sexual orientation. The school only acts when a student turns it to behavior.

  • AVERAGEDUDE

    What Brown fails to realize is that it wasn’t SEXUAL ORIENTATION that got him expelled. It was his ACTIONS and not his ORIENTATION that got him into hot water.

  • TRISH RAMIREZ

    Mr. Brown doesn’t have to worry about BYU losing its accreditation. The ABA understands the difference between sexual orientation and sodomy. It wasn’t his orientation that got Mr. Chamberlain expelled.

    • Job F

      It is the typical LDS church/BYU behavior to only treat others equally when under pressure of the law or facing public humiliation, not for moral principles.

      • AVERAGEDUDE

        While the ABA requires that the schools it accredits not to discriminate in admissions on the grounds of sexual orientation the ABA’s rules that faith-based law schools may adopt rules consistent with religious “affiliation or purpose.”

  • Job F

    It is the typical LDS church/BYU behavior to only treat others equally when under pressure of the law or facing public humiliation, not for moral principles.

    • AVERAGEDUDE

      @Job F
      I see that you like to repeat yourself.

      While the ABA requires that the schools it accredits not to discriminate in admissions on the grounds of sexual orientation the ABA’s rules that faith-based law schools may adopt rules consistent with religious “affiliation or purpose.”

    • TRISH RAMIREZ

      Steady your trembling heart honey. The BYU isn’t under any pressure of the law, and the majority of us support them and their moral code. I don’t think you or your boyfriend would be a good fit at that school.

  • omnerlv

    The thing here is that this article is not impartial because they aren’t adding a copy of the honor code, specifically the part that supposedly claim “But if a student is Mormon and wants to change their faith they can be expelled.”. We are taking it as a fact, but the original text will put things clear. Now IF in the “change of faith” they did something else against the honor code, THEN that’s the reason they were expelled and not the “change of faith”. We need to keep the things clear.

  • Mary-Celeste

    I’m still just peeved that BYU’s health plan doesn’t qualify for the ACA just because they don’t dole out birth control for free. Last I checked, people are responsible to buy their own kneepads when they skateboard. Insurance isn’t mandated to cover those or anything, so … Forgive me if I fail to see a significant difference. It’s a really good plan. Much better coverage than I have now. But this is all beside the point. All I can say is I’d respect this guy and his cause a whole lot more if he hadn’t broken a contract and lied about it before trying to get my sympathy. My bro had a crisis of faith at BYU, too. He didn’t get the degree, but at least maintained his integrity. Hard to feel too sorry for him, though… He works for Google now. Somehow he managed.

  • AVERAGEDUDE

    Before all the young men who are light in their loafers start to get giddy and light headed they need to remember that the ABA has ruled that that faith-based law schools may adopt rules consistent with religious “affiliation or purpose.” Translation: You may suffer from a same sex attraction and maintain your good standing at BYU right up until the moment you profess your dying devotion to some stranger in a men’s bathroom.

  • GregK

    The difference between a student getting kicked out of a university for not following the rules, and a university getting kicked out of an association for not following the rules?

    The student join one of any number of other schools and get nearly identical results. But the school cannot join any other assosciation to get results that are anywhere close to the same.

    The association happens to be the de facto accreditation organization recognized in the USA , meaning law students cannot even take the bar exam in any state if they don’t graduate from an ABA member school. This is not just some club, it is deeply tied to state laws. So no ABA accreditation, no law school.

    I’m not saying the ABA can’t make whatever rules they want, and I’m not saying BYU has broken any rules. I’m just saying the student-school relationship and school-ABA relationship is an apples to oranges comparison. An organization given that much (nearly monopolistic) power by government is usually also regulated in certain ways by the government.

    • MARY-CELESTE

      In this case the student got kicked out for his failure to abide by the honor code he agreed to and signed. Where BYU did not violate the rules of the ABA and where the ABA allows faith-based to adopt rules consistent with what they term “religious affiliation or purpose” BYU’s accrediation with the ABA remains in place.

      • GregK

        That’s fine. I probably agree with you. My only point was that,no matter which side of the debate you fall on, trying to equate the student-breaking-school-rules with school-breaking-association rules is an Apple’s to oranges comparison ,and so is not really valid or useful.

      • MARY-CELESTE

        So far no one has offered any proof that BYU has broken any ABA rules. Based on news stories they haven’t.

      • GregK

        Ok, I have not disagreed with your position at any time. But the point of my original post had nothing to do with taking sides over who broke what rules.

  • John

    I’m a BYU law alum. The university should have the right to maintain policies governing personal conduct that reflect church teaching. Given that tuition is so highly subsidized by church members, the university should also be able expel students who no long believe church teaching. The university’s mission is foremost – if not entirely – a religious one: educating believing members of the church. Should church members be compelled to subsidize students who no longer support the church or believe church teaching?

    All that said, I wonder if the university’s perspective isn’t somewhat backwards. Wouldn’t it be better if students could disclose their doubts about the church without fear of expulsion? That would encourage disclosure, and friends and ecclesiastical leaders of doubting students could identify them and help strengthen them – try to re-convert them before they graduate and, possibly, lose contact with the church. The church might argue that conversion isn’t BYU’s mission, and it might be right. Still . . .

  • AVERAGEDUDE

    @GREGK
    Mary-Celeste has a point. The ABA allows faith-based schools to set standards for their students, and Caleb Chamberlain violated BYU’s honor code. BYU will prevail with the ABA over this bogus charge brought by Mr. Chamberlain.

    • GregK

      That’s great. As I’ve said, she’s probably right. My point was not about that. My point was that, even if BYU broke the rule, the ABA is too government-appointed monopolistic for such a rule to be valid. They are the de facto government agency for law accreditation, so they can’t violate religious liberties.

      A student can easily go somewhere else for his education. A university cannot realistically go anywhere else for a law school program–the ABA is all there is. So the comparison is apples-to-oranges.

  • Smith Phillip C.

    Thank heaven for the 1st amendment. Those arguing for diversity should also respect the diversity of policies and standards of the LDS Church. Tolerance cuts both ways.

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