News (USA)

Students thought their Mormon university was OK with gay people for a second. Oops.

A student tweeted pictures of her kissing another woman at BYU.
A student tweeted pictures of her kissing another woman at BYU.Photo: Screenshot/Twitter

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.

Related: Report: Brigham Young University punishes gay rape victims  not rapists

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.


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.”

These tweets have led to both anger and confusion as students scramble to figure out what they mean.

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.

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