Famously conservative Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, has deleted a section of its student honor code banning “homosexual behavior” on campus.
While the change was done with little fanfare, it was met with celebration by LGBT students on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owned-campus.
Talking to CNN, Franchesca Lopez, a student at BYU studying sociology, was cautiously optimistic about the development at the college.
“I feel free and cared for by the university for the first time in a long time,” she said. “I really hope they don’t disappoint me again.”
— Franchesca (@fremlo_)February 19, 2020
The student honor code previously banned “all forms of physical intimacy” between members of the same sex. Though that section of the code has since been deleted, it is unclear whether the university will tolerate same-sex shows of affection on campus.
The university issued a statement on Twitter noting that the “principles of the Honor Code remain the same” and that questions arising from the change will be handled on a “case by case” basis.
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
However, according to some students who spoke to The Salt Lake Tribune, the university has told them individually that displays of physical affection would be tolerated so long as the couples remain chaste, a rule that is still part of the student honor code.
“I am personally very excited,” Mr Bowman said. “While I still think there are serious problems with the office, I am very happy that they are taking steps towards equality. I am hopeful that this will lead to less homophobia on campus from students, professors, faculty, bishops, etc.”
The changes at BYU are reflective of broader changes in the Mormon Church. Last spring, the church updated its handbook, changing the way the church viewed homosexuality. In the past, the church viewed homosexual individuals as apostates. The new changes encourage Mormons to reach out with “sensitivity, love and respect to persons who are attracted to others of the same sex.”
It goes on to call for all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, to strive for chastity.
Prior to the change, more than 1,500 liberal and LGBT Mormons fled the church.