Openly Gay BYU Students Seek Answers On Honor Code Change
PROVO, Utah – An update to align the Honor Code at Brigham Young University with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ new handbook has some LGBTQ students looking for clarification.
The new handbook takes a more adaptable and “ministerial” approach to administrative procedures.
As part of the code’s update, the school removed the portion on “homosexual behavior,” which previously stated that same-gender attraction is not an honor code violation but that all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings are.
Now there is no mention of homosexual behavior.
The Honor Code simply requires students to abstain “from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman,” among other requirements that existed before the change.
Zachary Ibarra, a senior at BYU majoring in interdisciplinary humanities, said he when he heard the news, he had to sit down to take it in.
“If felt so much like a dream. It didn’t feel real,” Ibarra said. “I have had numerous friends in the queer community who have gone to further confirm the change. They were told from Honor Code Office administrators no one will be turned into the Honor Code Office for simply having a boyfriend or girlfriend of their same gender.”
Ibarra is openly gay. He is the only active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his family.
“I have a good group of people in the queer community here,” he said. “We get together and study the gospel.”
He converted to the church in 2013, and then moved from Ohio to Utah, as a freshman, to attend BYU.
“My freshman year I was hospitalized for suicidal idealization. I thought it would be better if I ended my own life before I committed some grave sin,” Ibarra said. “I am seeing a rapid positive change in the community here, but I am cautious – to be told you can’t do something for so long, it’s hard to flip a switch, when it has been forbidden in the past. It just feels like it could be taken away very quickly.”
University officials sent a thread of tweets Wednesday to clarify the changes.
“We’ve learned that there may have been some miscommunication as to what the Honor Code changes mean,” the BYU tweet said. “Even though we have removed the more prescriptive language, the principles of the Honor Code remain the same.”
“The Honor Code Office will handle questions that arise on a case by case basis,” the thread continued. “For example, since dating means different things to different people, the Honor Code Office will work with students individually.”
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.
— BYU (@BYU) February 19, 2020
University officials stressed the moral standards of the code have not changed.
“People keep asking me when I am going to start dating,” Ibarra laughed. “I am not sure. You know, I haven’t been on a date, in years… since I was dating women. I am going to have to learn how to date all over now.”
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