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NCAA representatives visit BYU, Temple Square and meet with Church leaders about LGBT student athletes

Church leaders hosted members of the NCAA Common Ground executive committee on Friday, Nov. 2, on the heels of the Common Ground IV meetings on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah.

“We greatly appreciate your concern for the dignity and the physical and spiritual well-being of LGBT student athletes,” said Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president, according to a Newsroom release detailing the event. “I believe that when common ground is sincerely sought between any of God’s children, it is always found.”

Common Ground, according to the group’s website, was created to provide opportunities to explore issues of religious freedom and sexual orientation for individuals at public and private universities, particularly faith-based organizations, and its primary goal is to "foster environments in athletics that respect dignity and support the well-being of student athletes and those who teach and lead them."

“Common ground as a principle has great importance to us,” said by Elder Craig C. Christensen, General Authority Seventy and president of the Utah Areas. “I understand the importance of effective college athletic programs in the lives of student athletes, and I applaud your work to make things better for all involved.”

Elder Craig C. Christensen, General Authority Seventy and area president of the Utah Areas, welcomes the NCAA Common Ground Executive Committee to Temple Square Friday, Nov. 2.
Elder Craig C. Christensen, General Authority Seventy and area president of the Utah Areas, welcomes the NCAA Common Ground Executive Committee to Temple Square Friday, Nov. 2. Photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Elder Christensen and Sister Bingham were joined by Elder Allen D. Haynie of the Seventy; Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president; and women auxiliary board members in hosting the Common Ground committee, according to Newsroom.

Noting the commonalities in purpose between the NCAA and the Church's efforts to help young adults, NCAA managing director Amy Wilson said: “At the NCAA, we are involved with Common Ground because we feel passionately that we're in the human development business, and we know the Church cares very much about its young people and making sure they're safe and taken care of and respected.”

Liz Darger, senior associate athletic director at BYU and a member of the Young Women general board, said having the NCAA Common Ground leadership team visit Temple Square meant a great deal to her personally. “These are my dear friends who took time to come and see some of the sites that are most sacred to me,” she said. “I loved having my Latter-day Saint friends meet my Common Ground friends and vice versa. These are all people who care deeply about the welfare of others. To be able to sit and talk and share together was powerful.”

A group photo in front of the Salt Lake Temple with the Common Ground Executive Committee, Nov. 2.
A group photo in front of the Salt Lake Temple with the Common Ground Executive Committee, Nov. 2. Photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

In addition to the Church-hosted luncheon, the visitors toured Temple Square and the Bishop’s Central Storehouse.

Nevin Caple, cofounder of LGBT Sportsafe, who also attended the meeting, expressed her gratitude for the caring and receptive nature of all those in attendance. She noted such meetings provide opportunities to learn and value both differences and similarities.

Earlier this year, in August, BYU professor Eric D. Huntsman spoke at a BYU devotional addressing the need for more love and understanding among students and Church members, particularly in regards to LGBTQ issues.

Additionally, regarding the topic of religious freedom, Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke at a G20 Interfaith Forum where he advocated a need for protecting religious freedom for all.

Read more about the Common Ground meeting at Temple Square here.

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