Mormon university removes ban on ‘homosexual behaviour’ from rulebook, but still thinks being gay is wrong
A Mormon university has finally removed a section of its rulebook that prohibits “homosexual behaviour”, but it may be too soon for LGBT+ students to celebrate.
Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), commonly known as the Mormon church.
Students can be expelled for not adhering to the university’s Honor Code, and until now specifically prohibited “homosexual behaviour”.
The code used to state: “Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code.
“Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”
But now the entire section of the Honor Code on “homosexual behaviour” has been removed.
LGBT+ students at the Mormon university celebrated by kissing friends and partners of the same gender in various places around campus, including in front of the Honor Code office.
first gay kiss on BYU campus in the open air now that the honor code can do nothing about it 🤘🏼🌈
also this is just my best friend but we're both very gay and very single pic.twitter.com/XNMeBhGk49
— maci’s future eternal companion (@danieljniemann) February 20, 2020
eat ur heart out byu pic.twitter.com/Jsql8oDUKH
— ariel 🌈 (@arijenmo) February 14, 2020
However, the celebrations may have come too soon.
The revised Honor Code still states that students must “live a chaste and virtuous life, including abstaining from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman.”
A few days after altering the Honor Code, the university released a statement saying that there had been some “miscommunication”.
It said: “In speaking with Honor Code Office Director Kevin Utt this afternoon, we’ve learned that there may have been some miscommunication as to what the Honor Code changes mean.
“Even though we have removed the more prescriptive language, the principles of the Honor Code remain the same.”
The Honor Code Office will handle questions that arise on a case by case basis. For example, since dating means different things to different people, the Honor Code Office will work with students individually.
— BYU (@BYU) February 19, 2020
The university has not clarified what the changes will actually mean for LGBT+ students.
All unmarried students, including straight, cisgender students, are prohibited from “sexual relations” outside of marriage.
But since the removal of the rule against “homosexual behaviour”, there has been no official statement on whether students will be able to show affection for someone of the same gender, for example by kissing or holding hands.
The university’s conduct policy has also been revised, and it states: “Conduct or action inconsistent with the principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Honor Code is not permitted.”
The teachings of the church continue to be vehemently anti-LGBT+.
On Wednesday February 19, the LDS church released the General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which includes an entire section on “Transgender Individuals”.
The handbook states: “Church leaders counsel against elective medical or surgical intervention for the purpose of attempting to transition to the opposite gender of a person’s birth sex (‘sex reassignment’).
“Leaders advise that taking these actions will be cause for Church membership restrictions.”
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Any Mormon who attempts to transition their gender through “changes in dress, grooming, names, or pronouns intended to reflect a gender identity different from the one assigned at birth” will be subject to a plethora of restrictions “for the duration of this transition”.
The handbook also doubles down on the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage and gay sex.
Brigham Young University has been approached for comment.