Cancellation of Transgender Services by BYU Speech-Language Clinic Draws Attention

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(RNS) – A master’s program in speech-language pathology at Brigham Young University – Provo School, Utah, operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – is undergoing accreditation review official after ceasing to provide a speech therapy service used by transgender clients to adapt their new voices.

Gale Rice, President of the Board of Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathologysaid in a March 29 letter the organization conducts an investigation to determine whether the master’s program remains compliant.

The CAA’s letter, addressed to Christopher Dromey of BYU’s Department of Communication Disorders, comes after the school administration said its on-campus speech-language pathology clinic which provides “a college experience for graduate students would no longer provide gender-affirming speech therapy.

Gender-affirming voice care is primarily used by transgender people to tailor their voice to “patterns that match their gender identity.” according to the Mayo Clinic.

the Salt Lake Tribune reported in February that three transgender clients at the clinic were “struggling to connect with new speech pathologists.”

Rice wrote in her letter that BYU needs to clarify the relationship between the master’s program and the clinic, particularly which entity has authority and responsibility for the clinic on campus, among other things.

“The CAA may draw reasonable inferences from a program’s failure to provide a response to adverse news,” Rice said in the letter, which was obtained by Religion News Service.

Todd Hollingshead, a spokesperson for BYU, told RNS that the school’s communication disorders department “has complied and continues to comply” with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Code of Ethics. Association and its licensing requirements, and federal laws and regulations. .

Hollingshead said BYU no longer provides gender-affirming voice and communications services to any individuals, not just transgender customers, but a March 10 letter from academic vice president Shane Reese said no BYU-sponsored universities The church should not provide this service because the church has asked its leaders to “advise against social transition”.

the church manual states that a “social transition includes changing clothing or grooming, or changing a name or pronouns, to present oneself as other than one’s biological sex at birth”.

“Leaders advise that those making a social transition will experience certain Church membership restrictions for the duration of that transition,” according to the manual.

The decision to discontinue gender-affirming voice services at the clinic was a “religious mission-based decision,” Reese said.

In a month of February declaration, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the national professional organization for the specialty, said BYU’s decision to “deny speech-language services to transgender clients is in direct opposition” to the code of ethics of the organization. ‘association. The school, the organization said, is putting its certified speech pathologists “in an untenable position.”

The northwest entrance to the John Taylor Building on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah. The Speech Therapy Clinic is located in the John Taylor Building, also known as the Comprehensive Clinic. Photo by Scd123/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

“These employees are now asked to act in a manner contrary to their responsibilities under the ASHA Code of Ethics,” the statement said.

Shane Reese, Vice President Academic of BYU.  Photo via BYU

Shane Reese, Vice President Academic of BYU. Photo via BYU

Reese, in her letter to ASHA, said the clinic would continue to help with other communication services, regardless of gender identity or expression, and said the school “provides resources to those affected to help them receive gender-affirming voice services from another provider.”

Kyle Ashworth, who hosts the “Latter Gay Stories” podcast, reported for the first time about the survey on his show’s website.

“It’s amazing that this university does what it does,” Ashworth said. “It’s reckless.”

Paul Southwick, director of the Religious Exemption Accountability Project, said the civil rights organization is monitoring the situation at BYU.

Paul Southwick.  Photo via REAP

Paul Southwick. Photo via REAP

“It’s such an important academic institution with a number of accredited programs in a variety of graduate disciplines,” Southwick said.

“We are watching it closely as there is a large LGBTQ+ student population at BYU. … There are a number of alumni who are LGBTQ+ and we see a lot of pressure in a number of areas,” Southwick said. “We believe that right now BYU has a system of discrimination that is on the verge of collapsing.”


RELATED: Are LGBTQ students in Christian schools discriminated against? A trial, scholarly studies say yes.


Last April, REAP filed a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education, claiming that the department’s religious exemption allows schools that receive federal dollars to unconstitutionally discriminate against LGBTQ students.

In February, the Ministry of Education fired another investigation into how LGBTQ students are disciplined at BYU, claiming it has no enforcement power in the private religious school.

The complaint came after the university said it would continue to enforce the same-sex dating ban even after this section was removed from the school’s written honor code. The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

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