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Education

Queer Mormons say they’ve been put in danger by ‘cruel’ university as it U-turns on homosexuality policy

Lily Wakefield March 5, 2020
Mormon university

The bait and switch has put LGBT+ students in "danger".(CourtneyLTanner/ Twitter)

The Mormon Brigham Young University (BYU) has backtracked on removing a ban “homosexual behaviour”, announcing that “same-sex romantic behaviour” is still outlawed.

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 last month it specifically prohibited “homosexual behaviour”.

The Mormon university removed a ban on “homosexual behaviour” last month.

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.”

In February, the entire section of the Honor Code on “homosexual behaviour” was 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.

But a few days after altering the Honor Code, the university released a statement saying that there had been some “miscommunication” about what the amendments meant.

However, the university failed to clarify what the changes would actually mean for LGBT+ students, or if there really had been any change at all, and did not respond to requests for comment by PinkNews.

(BYU Newsline/ Twitter)

LGBT+ BYU students ‘thought they were safe’ but are now ‘at risk’.

On Wednesday, March 4, a letter was sent to all students and staff by Elder Paul V Johnson, commissioner of the Church Educational System (CES), addressing the updated Honor Code.

The letter said: “One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on “homosexual behaviour”.

“The moral standards of the church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code… A foundational doctrine of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is that ‘marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children’.

“Same-sex romantic behaviour cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code.”

The policy flip-flop has been branded “cowardly”, “manipulative”, “gaslighting” and “incredibly cruel”.

But more than raising and then crushing the hopes of LGBT+ students, the university’s actions have also put them in danger.

One student wrote on Twitter: “Dangerous move. So many kids came out because they thought they were safe.

“Now they’re on your black-list of apostates. False hope from false teachers of love.

“Sad that my university would backpedal with such possibly life threatening consequences.”

Students have been protesting on campus, and a fund has been set up by the Out Foundation, a group created by LGBT+ people who attended or graduated from Brigham Young University, to help LGBT+ students transfer to other universities.

The GoFundMe page states: “Understandably, many of these queer students no longer feel safe on campus.

“However, if they try to transfer out of BYU, they are at risk for losing scholarships, income from on-campus employment, and even their own housing.

“This problem is compounded by the fact that many queer students face the very real possibility of being cut-off financially from their family if they come out or transfer out of BYU.”

Other students have been using markers and post-it notes to spread messages of love all over BYU.

The notes display messages like “I met my trans wife at BYU”, “queers of colour, you freakin’ rock” and “gays have always been dating at BYU”.

More: Brigham Young University, mormon church, Utah

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