Brigham Young University recently added an explicit ban on “same-sex romantic behavior” to its Honor Code, a move some students argue goes beyond the stance of the Mormon Church.
In 2020, BYU removed the prohibition on “homosexual behavior” from its Honor Code, a decision that brought joy to LGBTQ+ students. However, the Church Educational System, which governs all BYU campuses, clarified that this did not indicate acceptance of “same-sex romantic behavior.” Last month, the school officially reinstated the ban.
The BYU Honor Code instructs students to lead a “chaste and virtuous life, including abstaining from sexual relations outside marriage between a man and a woman.” The updated language now includes that “living a chaste and virtuous life also includes abstaining from same-sex romantic behavior.”
BYU is affiliated with the Mormon Church, which opposes same-sex relationships, refrains from performing same-sex marriages, and encourages abstinence from same-gender sexual activity. Some church leaders have also criticized LGBTQ+ activism as being influenced by Satan.
Some BYU students claim that certain LDS congregations are more lenient when it comes to same-sex dating, whereas the university enforces stricter regulations on dating relationships.
Gracee Purcell, president of the RaYnbow Collective, a group supporting queer students and alumni at BYU that held its annual off-campus Back-to-School Pride near the BYU Provo campus on Sept. 16, said, “Depending on where you are, who your religious leaders are, you can actually date people of the same sex with very little church repercussions. At BYU, that usually gray line within the church is a hard line. Anything that they deem homosexual behavior, or same-sex romantic behavior, is not allowed.”
The definition of “romantic behavior” includes dating, holding hands, or kissing. Violations will be addressed on a case-by-case basis, with the aim of guiding students to uphold their gospel covenants and university commitments, as outlined in BYU’s frequently asked questions.
“The lack of representation and the increase in religious and societal pressures won’t stop queer students from coming. But it will hurt them,” Purcell said.