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Brigham Young University Adds Explicit Ban on ‘Same-Sex Romantic Behavior’ to Honor Code

Author: Trudy Ring

Brigham Young University administrators have put an explicit ban on “same-sex romantic behavior” in the school’s Honor Code, and students say it goes farther than the Mormon Church’s policy on same-sex relationships.

In 2020, BYU deleted a ban on “homosexual behavior” from the Honor Code, leading some LGBTQ+ students to celebrate. But soon afterward, the Church Educational System, which governs all the BYU campuses, clarified that the deletion didn’t mean “same-sex romantic behavior” was acceptable. Last month, it added the language prohibiting “same-sex romantic behavior” to the code.

“Though the ban had never really lost its effect, for some students the official restoration of it still felt like a gut punch,” Religion News Service reports.

The Honor Code tells BYU students to live “a chaste and virtuous life, including abstaining from sexual relations outside marriage between a man and a woman.” With the new language, it notes that “living a chaste and virtuous life also includes abstaining from same-sex romantic behavior.”

BYU is affiliated with the Mormon Church (officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), which opposes same-sex relationships. The church won’t perform same-sex marriages and expects the faithful to refrain from sexual activity with members of the same gender. It also opposes gender transition, and church leaders have said that LGBTQ+ activism comes from Satan.

But some BYU students say certain LDS congregations look the other way when a member is dating someone of the same sex, while the college is policing dating relationships.

“Depending on where you are, who your religious leaders are, you can actually date people of the same sex with very little church repercussions,” BYU student Gracee Purcell, president of the RaYnbow Collective, a group for the college’s queer students and alumni, told Religion News Service. “At BYU, that usually gray line within the church is a hard line. Anything that they deem homosexual behavior, or same-sex romantic behavior, is not allowed.”

That “romantic behavior” could include dating, holding hands, or kissing. If a student engages in any of these, “as in years past, each situation will be handled on a case-by-case basis to help each student feel the love of the Savior and to encourage them to live their gospel covenants and university/college commitments,” says a list of BYU’s answers to frequently asked questions.

LGBTQ+ groups for BYU students and alums opposed the prohibition but said at least the school is being up front about its attitudes. “I’m just glad people can now finally see explicitly what’s happening,” Evelyn Telford, a vice president of Understanding Sexuality, Gender & Allyship, told the news service. “There’s no way to get around it that they are openly being discriminatory to queer students.” But it will make queer students feel more isolated and under scrutiny by others, she said.

The LGBTQ+ groups will continue doing their work, and the RaYnbow Collective will hold its annual off-campus Back-to-School Pride event in Provo, Utah, September 16. Provo is home to BYU’s main campus, and the school also has campuses in Idaho and Hawaii. Ensign College in Salt Lake City is governed by the Church Educational System as well.

Despite BYU’s anti-LGBTQ+ policies, queer students come to the university because of academics, family connections, or other reasons, Telford said. And some may not recognize they’re queer until they’re in college. That was the case with her, she said.

“It’s such a personal decision to be at BYU, and your sexuality shouldn’t mean you don’t deserve a place there,” she told Religion News Service.

Purcell added, “The lack of representation and the increase in religious and societal pressures won’t stop queer students from coming. But it will hurt them.”

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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