Students kissed people of the same-sex in celebration of Brigham Young University’s (BYU) new honor code, which no longer prohibits “homosexual behavior.”
But the school is saying there was “some miscommunication” about what it means, leaving LGBTQ students confused about their rights on campus.
BYU is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon Church), which teaches that homosexuality is a “serious transgression” and whose members donated around $20 million to ban marriage equality in California in 2008.
According to Deseret News, BYU’s honor code used to say: “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 new honor code continues to assert that only a married man and woman should engage in sexual relations, but it no longer includes the section that mentioned “homosexual behavior.”
When the new honor code was made public, queer BYU students celebrated with public kisses around campus, many of them posting photos to Twitter.
Less than a year ago I joined my student body in protesting BYU’s honor code, a policy that banned same-gender romantic relationships.
As of today, homosexual relationships are now treated the same as heterosexual ones at BYU :’)
Girls and gays, we did it! ❤️🌈 pic.twitter.com/67VGLC3mgU
— Matty Easton (@easton_matty) February 19, 2020
THE HONOR CODE UPDATED AND NOW I WILL BE KISSING ANY GIRL WHO WANTS TO ON CAMPUS pic.twitter.com/Ct600R1Zc2
— boob radley (@billylitter) February 19, 2020
But the excitement didn’t last long, as BYU quickly tweeted: “In speaking with Honor Code Office Director Kevin Utt this afternoon, we’ve learned 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.”
And in a second tweet: “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.”
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.
— BYU (@BYU) February 19, 2020
These tweets have led to both anger and confusion as students scramble to figure out what they mean.
There is nothing more DISHONORABLE than expecting people to follow unwritten rules that they don’t know about until some HCO employee in a “case by case” scenario decides that what they happened to do is worthy of punishment.
— Victoria Rice (@victoriakrice) February 20, 2020
BYU trying to decide if it wants to punish gay students for behaving the same way as straight students pic.twitter.com/2APM0r6UgR
— phil fletch (@philip_fletcher) February 20, 2020
So many people have directly confirmed with the HCO that they won’t punish gay students for dating, I really don’t think this is an actual bait and switch
It’s probably other BYU admin having a conniption about the optics and muddying the waters on purpose
— halibut emily (@porquenoloshoes) February 20, 2020
I’m so glad I left BYU. How could they make such a big change, relieving stress and giving hope to gay students, just to judge them on a case-by-case basis, making situations worse than before the change? I love the gospel and teachings of Jesus, but this is not that. 🙄
— Kenna (@kenna__renee32) February 20, 2020
BYU has not made any attempts to publicly clarify the meaning of the tweets, but, as shown in a Fox13 news report, many students still feel it is at least a step in the right direction.
The updated honor code was released in conjunction with a new handbook from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that offers a slightly more lenient policy – including its first ever stance on transgender individuals – when it comes to LGBTQ members of the church.
The Salt Lake Tribune pointed out that there is significant disagreement over whether the updates in policies are positive or negative for LGBTQ people.