Media focuses on LGBT reaction to BYU’s Honor Code update

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News media paid swift attention to BYU’s announcement it has updated its Honor Code and put the spotlight on reaction from the LGBT community.

The New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today are among media that carried a story by the Associated Press with the headline “Mormon-owned BYU eases rules on ‘homosexual behavior’.”

BYU’s announcement came early in the day on Wednesday, Feb. 19, but it was much later in the day the school suggested reaction in news and social media misunderstood the school’s intent.

“An entire section in the code that was dedicated to ‘homosexual behavior’ has been removed.” says the AP article. “The clause that upset people was the part that said ‘all forms of physical intimacy that that give expression to homosexual feelings’ is prohibited.”

USA Today’s article says “The announcement came the same day the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints released its new handbook, but did not specify what displays of affection same-gender couples are allowed to do.”

BYU posted on Twitter saying there may have been some miscommunication on what the Honor Code changes mean, saying “Even though we have removed the more prescriptive language, the principles of the Honor Code remain the same.”

The Deseret News posted two articles, one article of the news itself, and just a few hours later an opinion article by contributor Charlie Bird, former BYU mascot who came out as gay in 2019.

“I applaud that LGBTQ students can now operate more fully in the light,” Bird said. “I anticipate a decrease in students who feel the need to lie about who they are. I anticipate a dramatic decrease in secretive, anonymous dating and cases of heartbreaking sexual assault.”

The Salt Lake Tribune was also quick the day of the announcement to feature a photo of two women kissing in front of the school’s administration building and a statue of Brigham Young. The story leads with: “Standing in the shadow of the iconic campus statue of Brigham Young, Franchesca Lopez leaned forward, grabbed her friend, Kate Foster, and kissed her.”

Since the release of the updated Honor Code, people on social media have been speculating what the changes are and what they could mean.

The updated Honor Code states “Live a chaste and virtuous life, including abstaining from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman.”

Twitter user @fremlo_ tweeted that gay dating was confirmed to be OK by an Honor Code Office counselor, though the university has not confirmed that is the case.

In a tweet, user @MaciF00 shared the hurt she felt from the Honor Code changes.

Twitter user @danieljniemann posted a picture of him kissing his male best friend in front of the Abraham O. Smoot Administration Building.

BYU tweeted saying the Honor Code will handle questions on a case-by-case basis, and the Honor Code Office will work with students individually.

@Josephsysling responded to BYU’s tweet about the miscommunication.

Another Twitter user @cletusspafford responded to the tweet by @Josephsysling, believing that same sex dating is OK, just not homosexual behavior.

Twitter user @victoriakrice also responded to BYU’s tweet.

In response to USA Today’s Facebook post of the article, Facebook user Brent Burgess commented about the change.

In response to one of the articles Deseret News posted, Facebook user Nate Alder commented about the way he interpreted the change.

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