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Baby Steps at BYU

Jim Burroway

April 17th, 2007

The Salt Lake Tribune noticed a slight modification to Brigham Young University’s honor code. The code was changed to more clearly emphasize sexual behavior over sexual orientation. It now reads:

Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. … One’s stated sexual orientation 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.

It used to read:

Brigham Young University will respond to student behavior rather than to feelings or orientation. … Advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) or any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.

Students complained that the previous version of the honor code was ambiguous. What did “implied” advocacy mean exactly? And what were the boundaries when the code added, “including those not sexual in nature”?

One BYU freshmen commented that this change “remove[s] a lot of the Gestapo atmosphere from the campus.” BYU officials deny that this change was prompted by the Soulforce Equality Riders’s recent campus visit.

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Howller
April 18th, 2007 | LINK

The changes to the verbage of the homosexuality section of the Student Honor Code are considered by Later-day Saint gays to be significant and welcome improvements, even if they translate to mere baby steps forward. The modification was precipitated by the visit of the SoulForce Riders to BYU, albeit in a negative way, by stimulating a dilogue between the students and the administration. Some of the homosexual BYU students felt that the stereotype which the SoulForce activists evoked was not characteristic of gay BYU students and wished to discuss the matter with the administration. This led to changes in the Honor Code, which verbage was prepared by the administration. A first-hand report is here.

Note that an additional change was just incorporated into the text, which further clarifies that one who “states” that he or she has a homosexual orientation does not violate the Honor Code. So that a student might have a blog, for example, where he or she discuses issues related to homosexuality, and the student would not fear getting expelled.

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