Brigham Young University has updated its honor code, appearing to eliminate specific language regarding homosexual behavior and relationships.
“The updated Honor Code continues to be a principle-based code that reflects the moral standards of the Church,” an announcement from the university reads. “It allows each campus to support and guide its students on an individual basis according to the principles outlined in the Honor Code.”
The code, which was approved on Feb. 12, according to the university’s website, is a greatly condensed version than its previous version, with separate links to honor code-related policies.
Students at the university, which is owned and run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, agree to abide by BYU’s honor code in order to attend.
The previous code banned actions such as the consumption of alcohol, premarital sex, beards, being in the bedroom of someone of the opposite sex and homosexual behavior, including sexual relations and “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”
In new Church Educational System Honor Code-related Policies that expound on the new abbreviated version, it states, “Students must abstain from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal substances and from the intentional misuse or abuse of any substance. Sexual misconduct; obscene or indecent conduct or expressions; disorderly or disruptive conduct; participation in gambling activities; involvement with pornographic, erotic, indecent, or offensive material; and any other conduct or action inconsistent with the principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Honor Code is not permitted.”
The abbreviated version of the code lists requirements as the following:
Live a chase and virtuous life, including abstaining from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman.
Respect others, including the avoidance of profane and vulgar language.
Obey the law and follow campus policies.
Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, vaping, and substance abuse.
Participate regularly in Church services (required only of Church members).
Observe Brigham Young University’s dress and grooming standards.
Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code.
As some students and alumni celebrated the changes on social media, statements made from the university’s accounts hours after the announcement hinted that a ban on homosexual behavior may still be in place.
“In speaking with Honor Code Director Kevin Utt this afternoon, we’ve learned that there may have been some miscommunication as to what the Honor Code changes mean,” a tweet from the university reads. “Even though we have removed the more prescriptive language, the principles of the Honor Code remain the same. The Honor Code 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 individual people.”
The changes come after students protested last spring for changes to the code and how it is enforced. Since then, BYU has released a handful of incremental changes, with the most recent update posted about two weeks before the start of the academic year.
Changes have surrounded the Honor Code Office, including a new software that allows students to know what they’re being called in for before their first appointment, banning anonymous reporting in cases where safety isn’t a concern and changing the title of Honor Code Office employees from counselors to administrators.
“We are grateful to BYU and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for the changes made this morning to the CES Honor Code policy,” reads a statement released on Wednesday from Restore Honor BYU, a group of students aiming to make changes to the policy and how it’s enforced. “One of the biggest concerns students have voiced has been the unequal treatment of homosexual students, and this removal of the homosexual behavior clause and the update to living a chaste and virtuous life shows that the administration is listening to it’s students. This clarification that there is no difference between homosexual and heterosexual students in how sexual misconduct is treated is critical to ensuring safety and equality for homosexual students at BYU. This change has been one of our goals from the beginning and we are grateful for everyone’s support.”
Restore Honor BYU said it celebrates the simplification of the code.
“We have always sought a campus policy that is in line with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and believe that this brings those two much closer together,” another statement from the group reads.
The organization said the updated code has been its goal from the beginning of its movement, and thanked those who have had conversations about the policies.
“We have worked nonstop on your behalf, and we promise we will continue to work with BYU Administration to figure out how these policies will apply to current and future students,” the statement reads.
The policy explanation of the honor code still includes the school’s historic ban on beards for male students.
The code, which applies to all universities owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was updated to be in alignment with the church’s updated general handbook, which was publicly released Wednesday, according to an announcement from the university.
The Daily Herald has reached out to BYU and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for additional comment.