When Brigham Young University removed the ban on “homosexual behavior” from its honor code last month, it seemed like a sign that the Mormon Church, who owns BYU, was softening its stance on sexuality issues. The ban set a strict set of rules for students to refrain from “all forms of physical intimacy” between members of the same sex. Many LGBT students at the Provo, Utah university celebrated the change in the honor code by kissing friends.
Not even a month later, on March 4, BYU issued a formal backtrack to the removal of the “homosexual behavior ” ban from the honor code. A letter from Elder Paul V. Johnson, Commissioner of the Church Educational System, stated, “Same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code.”
Issued with the letter was a Q & A to reaffirm any same-sex romantic behavior such as kissing and holding hands was a violation of the Honor Code.
During Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of students gathered at the campus quad to protest the university’s reversal on the Honor Code change. Some students including Lopez felt betrayed by the school.
“I feel so incredibly stupid to have believed BYU cared about me or anyone else,” Lopez said to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Others were fearful that BYU was tricking LGBT students at the university to come out as part of a sting like Lilly Bitter who is in doubt of remaining at BYU.
“There’s pictures of me on the news, kissing a girl in front of the Brigham Young statue. People who didn’t know before know now because I thought it didn’t matter,” Bitter said. “It’s so much more scrutiny, and I feel like I’m not safe here anymore. I have kind of blown my cover as an LGBT student.”
Many are making their feelings regarding BYU’s course change on Twitter.
Brigham Young University is without honor. Your students deserve better. Your community deserves better. This is shameful.
— named almond (@Annalolan) March 4, 2020
Religion – Did Brigham Young University Trick Gay Students Into Coming Out So It Could Discipline Them? – VIDEO
How vile can you get? Smile and fool/lie and teach the young to:
— Dane B. McFadhen (@DaneMcFadhen) March 5, 2020
Mormon church doesn't want to kill you, but you are not allowed to have love~ Utah's Brigham Young University dashed LGBTQ students' hopes this week when it reiterated that “same-sex romantic behavior” is not allowed on campus. https://t.co/UraH7Kz0Bt via @huffpostqueer
— Liberal Lyndsey (@junoakliberal) March 4, 2020
— maddie hall (@maddie_soup) March 4, 2020
yes I chose to come to BYU and I chose to sign the honor code but I did not choose to be gaslighted and hated and treated as less important than other students
— autumndaun (@autumndaun) March 4, 2020
as if @BYU hasn’t made me feel stupid enough, I can’t believe I was naive enough to think for a second they cared
— fran (@fremlo_) March 4, 2020
It is unclear as of this moment if there will be consequences for these students but the school’s reversal could have negative consequences for BYU. Executive vice president of academic affairs at University of Evansville, a Methodist University in Indiana explained a possible effect of the policy reversal could be negative press for the university.
“Until two weeks ago, nobody knew what their policy was; now everybody does. It’s not just that they made this policy decision but made it when everybody was paying attention,” Austin said.