Science Groups Pull Brigham Young University Job Ads
Science Groups Pull Brigham Young University Job Ads

Science Groups Pull Brigham Young University Job Ads

Members of two geology societies voiced concerns about the school’s prohibition of same-sex relationships.

Nov 13, 2019
Kerry Grens

ABOVE: © ISTOCK.COM, WIKIPEDIA, PATELITODEPAPA

The American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America have taken down a job ad from Brigham Young University that was posted on their websites. Members of the science organizations had raised concerns about the school’s conduct code—which states that “homosexual behavior is inappropriate”—as a violation of the societies’ own ethical standards, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

“I don’t see why someone’s sexual preference should have any bearing on their employment,” Peter Martin, a graduate student at Caltech who helped to get the ad pulled, tells the Tribune

The advertised position at Brigham Young University (BYU) was for a tenure-track geology faculty member. Martin noticed the ad, which included mention of BYU’s honor code, on the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) website. After looking up what the code entailed, Martin asked the society to pull it. When the AGU initially declined, Martin and others started raising concerns on social media.

Brigham Young’s honor code states that it does not consider homosexual feelings or attraction an issue, but “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings” would violate the code.

On October 1, AGU tweeted that it had “reevaluated its decision” and removed the job ad because it is “inconsistent with AGU’s Scientific Integrity and Professional Ethics Policy.” The Geological Society of America also yanked the post and tells the Tribune that it is reviewing its advertising policy.

Three Brigham Young scientists responded to the AGU taking down the ad with an article in Eos, an AGU publication, in which they discuss the virtues of ideological diversity and the hazards of ideological discrimination. “This decision to cut off a group because of their beliefs on social issues is counterproductive to social and scientific progress,” Benjamin Abbott, who studies carbon and nutrient cycles at BYU and who coauthored the article, tells the Tribune.

Kerry Grens is a senior editor and the news director of The Scientist. Email her at kgrens@the-scientist.com.