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LGBTQ students react to BYU Honor Code changes

BYU campus
Posted at 10:12 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-21 00:22:40-05

PROVO, Utah — Students in the LGBTQ community at Brigham Young University are celebrating a change to the school’s Honor Code.

The revised Honor Code dated February 12, 2020, eliminates a paragraph titled “Homosexual Behavior.”

That paragraph included a sentence that said, “Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”

With that wording no longer in the Honor Code, students who are in same-sex relationships feel they can be more open on campus.

“I really love the church. I really love BYU. It feels very liberating,” said BYU sophomore Danny Niemann. “I don’t have to worry about my education being changed because I am dating guys.”

Another student learned of the change while in class.

“I was ecstatic. I was pumped,” said Lilly Bitter, a BYU sophomore who identifies as queer. “We were like, let’s do a little peck in front of the Brigham Young statue.”

Bitter and another female student kissed on campus and posted a photo of the moment on Twitter. The photo received hundreds of retweets and likes.

Bitter feels like this change will allow her more freedom to be herself on campus.

“I was worried that I could have everything taken away from me,” Bitter said. “There is always this fear in the back of my mind that everything I worked for on this campus could just be gone because I love someone.”

The revised Honor Code caused some confusion.

Late Tuesday afternoon, BYU released a series of tweets. One said, “We’ve learned that there may have been some miscommunication as to what the Honor Code changes mean.”

Another tweet added, “The Honor Code Office will handle questions that arise on a case by case basis.”

Students who worked to get the language removed from the Honor Code believe LGBTQ students who openly date on campus will not face any discipline.

“We have been working with the administration on these changes that have been coming out,” said Riley Madrian, a BYU senior who works with a campus group called Restore Honor. “What we need to do is look at the policy that came out and notice what is there and notice what is not. I believe there is a lot more freedom now than there was.”

Students like Bitter hope this will lead to other changes that make the campus more inclusive.

"This is a nice step forward because it's more inclusive," Bitter said. "I think they still have a long way to go to really accept their LGBTQ brothers and sisters."

FOX 13 did not hear back from BYU after making several requests for clarification.