BYU appoints new president known for standing up for religious beliefs

Shane Reese, newly appointed BYU president, previously ended a transgender voice therapy program, citing religious standards.

Reactions to the appointment varied.

On Mar. 21, Brigham Young University (BYU) announced the appointment of its new university president, Shane Reese. Reactions to the appointment of the traditionally-minded member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) varied across the political spectrum.

Controversy surrounded Reese's pushback against certain transgender-related practices at BYU last year.

[RELATED: BYU reaffirms Mormon faith as it stops vocal clinics for transgender patients]

In 2022, BYU, an LDS institution, discontinued its transgender voice therapy services as part of its commitment to LDS religious policy and guidelines that discourage gender transition. As a result, the school received criticism from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Reese was a key figure at the time, defending the principles of the LDS faith on behalf of BYU. In a letter addressed to ASHA, serving in his then-role as Academic Vice President of BYU, Reese said that BYU was making the “religious mission-based decision to discontinue providing gender affirming voice services at its clinic.” 

Reese was responding to ASHA's claim that BYU had denied speech services to transgender patients entirely, rather than simply ceasing a very narrow set of services inconsistent with its religious beliefs.

After Reese's presidential appointment this month, one reaction came from Calvin Burke, a self-described “well-known LGBT Mormon advocate."

Burke wrote on Twitter, “My hot take about the new BYU President is Shane Reese has spent the last year licking Clark Gilbert’s boots so it’s really not surprising he has become BYU President, especially now that the role is largely ceremonial.”

Gilbert is the Commissioner of the LDS Church’s educational system. 

In response to a commenter in his Twitter thread who said "I hear lots of great things about Shane Reese! I think we’re all going to be pleasantly surprised," Burke simply replied by posting a news article about Reese's defense of BYU's decision to cease transgender voice therapy services.

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Ian Farris, a Contributor at The Cougar Chronicle, an independent BYU paper with which the author of this article is affiliated, told Campus Reform, “From a conservative gospel perspective, I love the new appointment. I may not know a ton about Reese, but from the actions he took as VP, such as stopping our transgender speech therapy clinic, I am expecting great things from him.”

All relevant parties in the story have been contacted for comment and this report will be updated accordingly.