Story at a glance
- Brigham Young University published a letter confirming the continued ban on LGBTQ+ relationships on campus.
- This comes after what activists thought was an inclusive decision to remove “same-sex romantic behavior” from its abstinence list.
Brigham Young University (BYU) administrators underscored that “same-sex romantic behavior” is not permitted on campus after changes to the Honor Code led to some confusion.
The Mormon university is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). It is traditionally one of the more conservative branches of Christianity but has reportedly been working to modernize its teachings.
In a letter addressed to those affiliated with the faith’s Church Educational System, Commissioner Elder Paul V. Johnson confirmed that same-sex romantic behavior is still banned within the school’s code of conduct, citing that, under the Mormon belief, it can’t lead to eternal marriage, a key tenant in the LDS faith.
“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,’” Johnson said.
This decision comes after the school revised the aforementioned code of conduct to remove homosexuality from its abstinence list, according to previous reports. Many LGBTQ+ activists and church members saw this as a victory for their civil rights.
The faith’s abstinence list also includes substances like caffeine, such as coffee, certain teas, as well as alcohol. It further bans tattoos and piercings to promote modesty among its worshippers.
These changes, while historic, only reportedly removed the enforcement of the rule, with AP noting that BYU would deal with LGTBQ+ relationships “on a case-by-case basis.”
The Feb. 19 revision to the code of conduct brought on many questions, which the Director of the Honor Code at BYU Kevin Utt responded to by publishing a Q&A on the school’s website. It implies that public displays of affection between gay or lesbian couples on campus are still not permitted.
Utt clarifies, however, that the honor code tenant to “Encourage others in their community to comply with the Honor Code” does not give students permission to degrade a fellow student based on their sexual preference, nor is it “synonymous” with reporting their behavior.
Per the Q&A, the church and school highlight that “any same-sex romantic behavior is a violation of the principles of the Honor Code.”
I publicly came out two weeks as queer thinking that BYU was slowly becoming a safe space, but BYU has proven once again that safety for it students of any minority is not a priority. When will they learn to empathize instead ordinary hurt? How can they claim to be Christlike?— comrade k8 frosty (@Kate_Foster14) March 4, 2020
Reactions among members of both the LGBTQ+ community and the LDS Church have largely reflected feeling hurt and further marginalized.
Speaking to AP, Nathan Cazmersen, a student at BYU, said that he opposes the changes as antithetical to behavior the church intends to promote.
“I feel like it empowers homophobic rhetoric on campus,” Cazmersen told reporters.