Mormon church-owned Brigham Young University has quietly removed a ban on “homosexual behavior” from its honor code.
The announcement came on the same day that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a new handbook updating its stances on LGBT issues.
The Associated Press reports: Until now, the [BYU honor] code defined homosexual behavior as “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings,” such as kissing, holding hands and sex. Any of those actions had violated BYU’s honor code, which students must follow on and off campus in order to graduate and take classes. “The Honor Code Office will handle questions that arise on a case by case basis,” the university said Wednesday. “For example, since dating means different things to different people, the Honor Code Office will work with students individually.” The previous policy said a student’s “stated same-gender attraction” was not an issue, but a BYU valedictorian made national headlines when he came out as gay during a graduation speech last year, and one student said other LGBTQ athletes stay closeted to avoid abuse.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that two female students, Franchesca Lopez and Kate Foster, celebrated the news by rushing to an iconic statue of Brigham Young on campus and sharing a kiss.
Lopez, who identifies as bisexual, later posted the image on Twitter with the caption “my first gay kiss.” She told the Tribune she thought the policy would never change.
“I just keep thinking maybe I imagined the whole thing,” she said.
While some details of the new policy are still unclear, LGBT students who called the Honor Code Office said they were told they can kiss and hold hands as long as they refrain from pre-marital sex.
From the Tribune: Lopez said she was told the same thing by a counselor at the office and was delighted. She posted the picture of her kiss on Twitter with the BYU namesake statue’s bronze eyes watching over the intimate moment. She then danced around the campus, she said, holding hands with other female students and singing the Katy Perry hit “I Kissed a Girl.”
Watch a report from Fox 13 below.