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American Bar Association To Investigate BYU Over Religious Discrimination Claim

The American Bar Association (ABA) has launched an investigation into the law school at Brigham Young University (BYU) following allegations of religious discrimination.

A complaint was brought by the group Free BYU, which disagrees with the university’s code of conduct all students must sign, media reports say.

BYU’s code forbids same sex relations while at university, and threatens any student who abandons the Mormon faith while at BYU with expulsion.

“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, head of Free BYU, according to KSTU.

A petition in support of the Free BYU initiative has gained more than 2,700 signatures.

A student can attend BYU if they are not part of the Mormon faith. However, a Mormon student is not permitted to renounce their faith while at BYU.

The code also bans drinking alcohol and sex before marriage, which are outlawed by the LDS Church.

“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 that if you answer the questions in the way they don't agree with, you get expelled,” Chamberlain added.

“There’s increasing support and awareness,” Free BYU spokesman Brad Levin told the Salt Lake Tribune, “even among Mormons.”

In October, a speaker due to participate in an event hosted by BYU law school canceled their appearance after being informed about the school’s policy by Free BYU.

The law school was last reviewed by the ABA in 2011-12. According to the ABA’s website, officers will be sent to the university to investigate Free BYU’s claims. A decision will then be made by an accrediting committee.

“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,” a BYU statement sent to KSTU read.

The ABA’s guidelines state that a religious school like BYU can indicate a preference for individuals with a particular religious background, provided this is made clear from the outset. However, the guidelines forbid the use of religion to restrict academic freedom, or determine the admission or retention of students.

Sources: KSTU, Salt Lake Tribune / photo credit: Wikicommons

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