I was able to attend a meeting yesterday in which history was made. For years the honor code section about homosexuality has been unclear and arguably unfair - almost anything could be considered against the honor code, because so much was left open to interpretation. The homosexuality clause could easily be used as an excuse to execute judgment and impose restrictions. A group of individuals approached Jan Scharman, Vice President of Student Life, about Soulforce and homosexual issues within the BYU community. One of the things that was brought up was the verbage of the Honor Code. Upon reviewing it, Jan agreed that it was inadequate and unclear, and said that she would work to get it rectified.
We never knew it would happen so fast.
She invited the group back yesterday (plus me, since I wasn't in the original group), and she made it known that the honor code would be a (the?) key issue in our discussion. When we got there, she basically handed us a fully-approved bureaucracy-conquered new version of that section of the honor code. She wanted us to pass off on it and make sure we were okay with it before it went in, but she'd already gotten through all the red tape. It is an amazing fix, and answers the questions we had. It explains what homosexual behavior is, and what advocacy is, according to the university, and outlines clearly what is allowed. It also makes it clear that we're welcome in the community, and based on what it says, we know that we're allowed to discuss our issues with people without fear of administrative repercussions.
She asked that we not post the text online until she got it up on the website, but I just checked and there it is. So here's the text as found here:
Unfortunately I don't have the text of the original (there's only about 12 words that are the same between the two, according to Jan, and that actually seems almost accurate), but among other things it said that any action, explicit or implicit, advocating or implying homosexual behavior was against the honor code. I have the wording wrong, but the idea is there. It was bogged down in legalese, it was unclear in its intent and execution, and generally didn't have a good feel about it. So this is huge. How many people have tried and failed to do what just got done? I feel so lucky to be part of it now, when things are happening, even if I played no role it making this step occur.
Homosexual behavior or advocacy
Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. Members of the university community can remain in good Honor Code standing if they conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code.
One's sexual orientation is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior or advocacy of homosexual behavior are inappropriate and violate 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. Advocacy includes seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable.Violations of the Honor Code may result in actions up to and including separation from the University.
We're also planning some meetings with other key administrators that Jan has singled out. She's already cornered them and told them that they ought to meet with us, and what it's about. We're going to be branching out from there. We're pretty stoked.
More blogging later. I had to get this out now, but I have a lot more to say about this and other things.
EDIT: Thanks to Foxx for the text of the original, for comparison purposes:
Homosexual behavior or advocacy~drex
Brigham Young University will respond to student behavior rather than to feelings or orientation. Students can be enrolled at the University and remain in good Honor Code standing if they maintain a current ecclesiastical endorsement and conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code. Advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) or any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.
Violations of the Honor Code may result in actions up to and including separation from the University.