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BYU Students Gather At LDS Church Headquarters In Support Of LGBT Dating

Photo of students holding signs and waving flags outside the church headquarters
Lee Hale
Brigham Young University students gather outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headquarters in downtown Salt Lake City Friday to rally in support of LGBT dating.

In mid-February, Brigham Young University administrators quietly removed a section from the school’s honor code titled “homosexual behavior,” and many students celebrated it as a move in the right direction. It seemed that this change would allow gay students to openly date and show affection. 

On Wednesday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — which owns BYU — clarified that, “Same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code.”

Students stand outside holding signs
Credit Lee Hale / KUER
Students rally outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headquarters in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday.

The letter came from Elder Paul Johnson, who oversees all BYU schools in Utah, Idaho and Hawaii. He said the recent honor code update led to “some misinterpretation.” 

“The back and forth just feels very irresponsible,” said Anna Wright, a junior at BYU in Provo. “And so dismissive of what so many people are going through.”

Wright thinks LGBT students should be treated the same as their straight peers when it comes to dating standards. That they should be able to hold hands and kiss as long as they don’t have sex outside of a heterosexual marriage.

Students brought their frustration to Church headquarters in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday afternoon in a protest organized by BYU graduate student Jorden Jackson. 

“We want to go back to where we were two weeks ago when the homosexuality clause was removed from the honor code — before it was reinstated two days ago,” Jackson said. 

Jackson is “cautiously optimistic” that this kind of demonstration could lead to change. But if not, she believes it’s still important to hold space for LGBT students to express their anger and sadness openly during a time when many feel betrayed and confused.

Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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