Brigham Young University has sure managed to “frick” over its gay students in a baffling display of incompetence.
https://www.sltrib.com/news/2020/03/05/ ... -byu-hurt/
Last month, the school, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stripped out of its Honor Code a prohibition on “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”
What came next should have surprised no one. Scores of relieved and jubilant LGBTQ students celebrated, posting photos on social media believing it was now OK to hold hands or hug or kiss another person of the same sex, just like their heterosexual classmates were allowed to do. And Honor Code officials told them it was OK. They asked.
On Wednesday, the school did a complete reversal.
A letter from Paul V. Johnson, the commissioner of the Church Education System that oversees BYU, said there had been “some misinterpretation” of the Honor Code revision and that romantic same-sex behavior was not compatible with the Honor Code because it “cannot lead to eternal marriage” — which remains one of BYU’s prime directives.
Now, even if you share BYU’s position on same-sex relationships and even if you supported their past discipline of those students, I think we can all agree that the reversal, then re-reversal of the Honor Code was an unmitigated disaster.
Of course, that reversal means that BYU may have removed a section of the Honor Code in written form, but it's alive and well in the shadows and will still be enforced as if it was still included. They are now actively hiding their policies from students and the public.
The students need to gather together en masse and go on strike. This must be a watershed moment.The initial announcement was incompetently handled and abysmally communicated, then left without clarification for weeks, despite the obvious confusion it created.
Now it’s a public relations nightmare for the university, which is seen as having pulled a bait-and-switch on a move toward openness that many of its students — those who are LGBTQ and the many, many more who support their friends — had been pleading for for years.
Students turned out to protest the move by the hundreds, gathering in the Wilkinson Center, chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, the Honor Code has got to go.”
This Honor Code 180 is more than in image problem. It was callous and cruel, giving students the hope that they might not have to hide their romantic feelings — really their true selves — only to drive them back into the shadows.
And going back into the closet is not even possible for all of those students who publicly celebrated the original change, posting pictures reveling in the elation of being able to openly love who they love for the first time.
"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," student Lilly Bitter told my colleague Courtney Tanner. "It's so much more scrutiny, and I feel like I'm not safe here anymore.”
“We realize that emotions over the last two weeks cover the spectrum and that some have and will continue to feel isolation and pain,” said Kevin Utt, the director of BYU’s Honor Code Office in a Q&A posted on the school’s website, encouraging the campus community to treat each other with “sensitivity, love and respect.”
That would be the same “sensitivity, love and respect” that Utt and the university failed to show the students, the cause of so much “isolation and pain.”
I’m not going to run down the damage inflicted on these students. They know the rates at which these students will turn their back on their church. They know the rates of depression. They know the rates of suicide.
Yet still they did this.