Last month, we told you how Mormon church-owned Brigham Young University had removed a ban on “homosexual behavior” from its honor code.
LGBT students, who have long suffered in the shadows at the Provo school, celebrated the decision by coming out, sharing same-sex kisses on campus, and gathering for a large Rainbow Day Celebration.
Then, on Wednesday, BYU’s administration formally backtracked, saying “same-sex romantic behavior” — which presumably includes things like kissing and holding hands — still violates the school’s honor code.
Heartbroken and betrayed, LGBT students staged a powerful protest, and some even suggested they were tricked into coming out as part of a sting, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Lilly Bitter, a junior who celebrated the removal of “homosexual behavior” from the honor code with a public kiss, now fears expulsion.
“There’s pictures of me on the news, kissing a girl in front of the Brigham Young statue,” she said. “People who didn’t know before know now because I thought it didn’t matter. It’s so much more scrutiny, and I feel like I’m not safe here anymore. I have kind of blown my cover as an LGBT student.”
The Tribune reported that it’s still unclear whether those who’ve been open about their sexual orientation in the last few weeks will be questioned or disciplined.
Tiauna Lomax, a BYU student who came out as bisexual in response to last month’s change, said she was feeling “traumatic whiplash” and is considering transferring.
“I thought BYU cared about me,” Lomax said.
Wednesday’s announcement came in the form of a letter from the commissioner of the Mormon church’s education system, Paul V. Johnson, as well as a Q&A posted by the director of BYU’s honor code office, the Associated Press reports.
“Same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the honor code,” Johnson wrote.
More scenes from Wednesday’s protest below.