Officials at Brigham Young University in Utah said Thursday that the school’s policy on “homosexual behavior” had not changed despite reports that a recent update to their Honor Code signified students would no longer be disciplined for engaging in same-sex relationships.
“Just know that the Honor Code remains the same and as we have [done] so often in the past, we handle the questions that arise on an individual case by case basis,” a representative from BYU’s communications office told The Christian Post Thursday.
In a brief statement released Wednesday, BYU officials said the updated Honor Code was published to be “in alignment with the doctrine and policies of the Church” reflected in the recently released general handbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The updated Honor Code applies to all Church institutions of higher education. As in the past, each campus maintains its own dress and grooming standards. The updated Honor Code continues to be a principle-based code that reflects the moral standards of the Church. It allows each campus to support and guide its students on an individual basis according to the principles outlined in the Honor Code,” the school said.
The updates to the code, however, show that the school had removed language classifying “homosexual behavior” among violations of the Honor Code that “may result in actions up to and including separation from the university.”
“Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or attraction and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. Members of the university community can remain in good Honor Code standing if they conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code,” the old language for the Honor Code noted.
“One's stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. 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,” the now-deleted language in the code noted.
When asked why that language was removed, the BYU official told CP: “The new church handbook was released on the same day. It aligned more with the way they are talking about things in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That’s the whole motivation behind taking that out to align with the church policy.”
The current Honor Code policy calls on students to, among other things, “live a chaste and virtuous life, including abstaining from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman.”
Kirk Bowman, a recent BYU graduate, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the director of the school’s Honor Code Office told him the change would mean LGBTQ students would no longer be disciplined or expelled for being in relationships — kissing or holding hands — as long as they follow the faith’s existing expectation that couples remain chaste until marriage.
“I am personally very excited," Bowman said. "While I still think there are serious problems with the office, I am very happy that they are taking steps towards equality. I am hopeful that this will lead to less homophobia on campus from students, professors, faculty, bishops, etc.”
In a series of tweets on Wednesday, BYU noted that Bowman may have misunderstood his communication with the Honor Code Office.
“The updated Honor Code continues to be a principle-based code that reflects the moral standards of the Church. It allows each campus to support and guide its students on an individual basis according to the principles outlined in the Honor Code,” BYU stated.
“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 school added.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not support gay marriage.