News & Opinion | February 21, 2020 1:00 pm

Brigham Young University Removes Honor-Code Clause Prohibiting “Homosexual Behavior,” But Remains Vague on Same-Sex Policies

Students are "cautiously optimistic" about the change

BYU lgbtq honor code
The Honor Code ditched the anti-LGBTQ clause, but officials haven't clarified what that really means for students.

Public displays of affection between same-sex partners have long been considered an Honor Code violation at Mormon-owned Brigham Young University, but the school appears to have quietly removed that clause from the code, leaving LGBTQ students to wonder where they stand.

The recent change was first reported by The Salt Lake Tribune earlier this week. While reports initially suggested celebration was underway among the student population, CNN reported students have since assumed a state of “cautious optimism” in the wake of the school’s failure to officially recognize the change beyond vague circumlocutions.

“The Honor Code Office will handle questions that arise on a case by case basis,” the university tweeted. “For example, since dating means different things to different people, the Honor Code Office will work with students individually.” Meanwhile, Carri Jenkins, a spokesperson for BYU, told CNN that “the principles of the honor code have not changed,” reiterating that the school “will handle questions that arise on an individual, case-by-case basis.”

As CNN noted, the Honor Code’s stance on same-sex relationships was always vague to begin with. While same-sex attraction itself wasn’t explicitly off-limits, any and all “forms of physical intimacy that gives expression to homosexual feelings” were prohibited, meaning any same-sex PDA could leave students vulnerable to investigation by the Honor Code Office, in addition to potential punishment from their church or expulsion from school.

If officially recognized, the elimination of this prohibition from the Honor Code could represent a major change for LGBTQ students.

“I feel free and cared for by the university for the first time in a long time,” Franchesca Lopez, a BYU undergraduate studying sociology, told CNN. “I really hope they don’t disappoint me again.”

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