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Letter Clarifies Intent of Byu Honor Code Change


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46 minutes ago, sunstoned said:

No, it wouldn't at all.  And there is precedence.

http://www.signaturebooks.com/product/conflict-in-the-quorum/

The best precedence and evidence imo is they are human, but then so is everyone between them and the HCO employee who picked up the phone and percentagewise given they were all born within the Church these days, add the long years of service leaders have these days before they get called as apostles as well as the many decades of operating under Correlation and together...probability the error occurs closer to the low end of the ladder than the high end.

Edited by Calm
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There are lots of people pointing fingers at students as if it was their fault for misunderstanding, or that they were wrong for wishful thinking, etc. - it would be helpful if the school acknowledged

Working to understand where these people are coming from rather than assigning them motives from my perspective (something that I felt led to do by the spirit) has been a really interesting and changi

Just caught up on this thread. Virtually everyone involved was foolish. The school for changing the code and not expecting anyone into read into it (anyone naive enough to think there would be no reac

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12 minutes ago, Duncan said:

as i said before before Elder Johnson said that gay people can't get sealed in the Temple and therefore be exalted, Elder Stevenson seems to think that everyone can be exalted, to me they need to get together and figure something out

What are you talking about?

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5 hours ago, Duncan said:

i think it was in the 1970's that then Elder Packer traveled to Tonga and there wasn't a Temple anywhere nearby  and he said "where are we as a Church if I can't teach about the Temple to these Tongan saints?" I wonder similarly where we are as a Church if we can't get homosexual members to plan a Temple marriage, why can't we get a revelation as to what are we supposed to do with them, minus the Temple?-why even endow them then, or go further down the line baptize and confirm them?, they can't ever get married in the Temple and you need that for exaltation. The Church's logic seems to be that they can't get married in the Temple so no marriage=no exaltation-Can Gay members be exalted?

A friend who is gay, now faithfully active RM, and celibate has hope for remedy in the next life. He doesn’t understand why he is the way he is, but he trusts all will be made perfect in the eternities. He fills his life with service despite the ravages on his health by HIV which he contracted many years ago while not living the standards of the Church. IMO, he will be exalted. He freely expresses  that hope.

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22 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

A friend who is gay, now faithfully active RM, and celibate has hope for remedy in the next life. He doesn’t understand why he is the way he is, but he trusts all will be made perfect in the eternities. He fills his life with service despite the ravages on his health by HIV which he contracted many years ago while not living the standards of the Church. IMO, he will be exalted. He freely expresses  that hope.

My heart goes out to your friend.

I saw the other day at Kobe Bryant's funeral, the famous basketball player Magic Johnson. He has lived a long life with HIV, hopefully the same can happen for your friend. Unless living life may be more an enduring life.

Edited by Tacenda
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42 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

My heart goes out to your friend.

I saw the other day at Kobe Bryant's funeral, the famous basketball player Magic Johnson. He has lived a long life with HIV, hopefully the same can happen for your friend. Unless living life may be more an enduring life.

Thank you. My friend is 65 years old. He often wonders why his life has been preserved for so long. He should have passed years ago, but  somehow he makes it through another day. He truly fills his days with service to others when he is able.

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3 hours ago, Calm said:

Wait...he refers to the events that happened, did he not?  And he had a week or more to prepare it. Not saying he wasn’t inspired to give it (the DN report implies he is troubled by the political partisanship conflicts happening, so I can see that as the original concern) but it was a predictable situation that as soon as the letter was released there would be blow back.  I am not psychic and I told friends there would be a protest as soon as it appeared to be walked back (don’t think it was walked back, just clarified, but that would be the feeling created by the insistence that standards had changed).
 

Or are you suggesting he wasn’t aware that the letter was coming nor that it would be released right after his talk ?

If the latter, I think more likely BYU asked him to help them defuse the situation and he knew the letter was going to be released.  It seems likely to me that was part of the delay. 

He may very well have been aware that the letter was on the verge of being released. I'm not suggesting otherwise. 

And he did make oblique reference to the uproar over the past two weeks and the social media posts and what not.

What I had in mind, though, was his very direct and,, to me, moving declaration that the Lord inspired him on the subject matter and content of his talk. I'm inclined to believe him on that, whatever the predictability of a backlash following the release of the letter. And when I saw the vitriol of that noisy protest on campus and heard the report of violence in connection with it (I still can't see it on the YouTube video; maybe it's my aged eyes) I had an even stronger impression that what President Ballard said was true about the Lord inspiring him in the preparation of the talk.

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1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

It sounds like he was talking about the savebyu.com people etc who were explicitly saying that church leaders through the BYU policy change were going astray:

 

IMG_20200305_062451.jpg

I don't see any reference here to Church leaders; only to "the BYU community" and to the university itself. It may be that this group thought the university was becoming a law unto itself, lacking direction from Church leaders. I know in the past the university has taken actions that I don't believe had the full backing or even the awareness of the Church hierarchy. I don't believe the hierarchy necessarily micromanages every singe aspect of BYU administration and campus life.

And as we now understand,, the university did go a bit off the rails, with the Honor Code Office and at least one faculty member dispensing misguided and erroneous information. I think these student, to some degree, can be pardoned for thinking the university was pursuing a maverick course.

 

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2 hours ago, Sunslight said:

What are you talking about?

Elder Johnson seems to have a differing opinion of Elder Stevenson, who thinks that everyone can be exalted

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1 hour ago, Bernard Gui said:

Thank you. My friend is 65 years old. He often wonders why his life has been preserved for so long. He should have passed years ago, but  somehow he makes it through another day. He truly fills his days with service to others when he is able.

we had a Stake President, his RM brother died of AIDS in the 1980's, I never knew him but my folks did, they said it was so sad, course back then they didn't know then what they know now. I had a friend who was gay, kicked out of BYU in 2000 or 2001, left the Church. I know others who are gay and all are out of the Church except for 1 or 2 that I know of. It's almost like you come out of the closet and then you leave the Church

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1 hour ago, Bernard Gui said:

Thank you. My friend is 65 years old. He often wonders why his life has been preserved for so long. He should have passed years ago, but  somehow he makes it through another day. He truly fills his days with service to others when he is able.

Not sure where this is coming from, but having HIV rarely is something you die from.  The medications currently used are highly effective.  I know many guys that have HIV and have for years.  Some of these post seem to be implying that if you are positive, you are on a certain road to an early death.  That simply is not true.  

Of course I am completely. unaware of your friends history, but I did not want a false narrative narrative  that being positive means your health is compromised.  

I might also add, since those reading this blog may be unaware of current science on this issue, that a person may be positive and still safely have sex with another person.  The current medication makes it possible to have a zero viral load, which makes infecting another person very rare.  That said, I am not advocating not taking prudent precautions.  This post is meant to inform, not some kind of political post.  

Edited by california boy
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1 hour ago, Scott Lloyd said:

He may very well have been aware that the letter was on the verge of being released. I'm not suggesting otherwise. 

And he did make oblique reference to the uproar over the past two weeks and the social media posts and what not.

What I had in mind, though, was his very direct and,, to me, moving declaration that the Lord inspired him on the subject matter and content of his talk. I'm inclined to believe him on that, whatever the predictability of a backlash following the release of the letter. And when I saw the vitriol of that noisy protest on campus and heard the report of violence in connection with it (I still can't see it on the YouTube video; maybe it's my aged eyes) I had an even stronger impression that what President Ballard said was true about the Lord inspiring him in the preparation of the talk.

What I read was a wonderful talk, inspiring.

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32 minutes ago, california boy said:

might also add, since those reading this blog may be unaware of current science on this issue, that a person may be positive and still safely have sex with another person.  The current medication makes it possible to have a zero viral load, which makes infecting another person very rare. 

It is remarkable what science has given us.  My daughter's diabetes pump...so thankful no more needles.  My relative comfort compared to my dad's and his dad's torture.  Such blessings.

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5 hours ago, Duncan said:

Elder Johnson seems to have a differing opinion of Elder Stevenson, who thinks that everyone can be exalted

A link or some context?

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My thoughts:,

BYU is a church-owned school that seeks a) to reflect and even promote the values and beliefs of the church that owns it, while b) also simultaneously striving to be a place of academia…  “the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship.”  Even during my time there, professors walked a fine line between promoting the pursuit of knowledge using the scientific method vs. ‘knowledge’ gained through the process of revelation, which were sometimes at odds with each other. 

In my life, organic evolution was a prime example in of this dichotomy; 25 years ago, as a recently-returned missionary staunchly defensive of my own indoctrination of Bruce R. McConkie’s condemnation of evolution as the means of creation of mankind, I recall meeting with one of my biology professors at the Y to discuss my concerns about how his teachings in class supported evolution.  My biology professor patiently listened to (what I now view as) my own overly-zealous objections to his teaching of ‘the scientific method,’ and gently explained to me that in his experience from many discussions with his fellow professors, within the teaching department at BYU, there was no doubt that organic evolution was real, but that despite the insistence of many general authorities’ absolute condemnations of evolution as a means of creation for mankind (indeed, as contrary to the gospel itself), each of the professors found a way to both incorporate and reconcile the undisputable scientific realities of evolution with their Faith in such a way that both their faith in ‘the gospel’ and their acceptance of organic evolution existed side-by-side.  He gave me a pamphlet on evolution that quoted many previous LDS leaders’ teachings on evolution, but carefully explained—even rationalized—why and how those quotes could be taken in context of the time they were shared, yet still could be seen as not conflicting with what he clearly believed to be demonstrably, scientifically real: the reality that all life on earth, including humans, evolved from other, less-complex forms of life.  This utterly challenged my Faith in the gospel; after all, if life evolved from other, less-complex forms of life, how did Adam and Eve come to exist?  How could the account of the creation and fall as related in the temple endowment, which I had sat through countless times and was integral to my Faith in the church, be ‘true’?  This professor, whom I had come to greatly respect, patiently took the time to explain how the temple was symbolic; how he believed the temple account of Adam and Eve was a symbolic representation of the covenants that all were making (as, indeed, the temple itself even alluded to), but wasn’t a historical or scientific explanation of how life actually began on earth.

What relevance does this have with this discussion about LGBT issues at the Y?  Well, again… BYU seeks to be both a reflection of the values and beliefs of the church that founded it, while simultaneously being a place of academia.  It’s unique in the culture of the LDS Faith, in that as an educational and professional institution, it relies on being viewed as a credible source of learning and scholarship.  It strives, even relies upon, being a place that doesn’t deny, and isn’t perceived as denying, the realities of science and medicine.  From it’s scholastic, sporting, and accreditation reputations, BYU relies upon being perceived as ‘in line’ with the general consensus of American ideals associated with preparing graduates to work as professionals in American society; it’s sporting programs, it’s legal accreditations, it’s ability to be seen as a place that doesn’t conflict with non-discrimination requirements, etc. are all intrinsically-tied to it’s academic mission.

It seems clear to me that BYU removed the language in its Honor Code prohibiting any and all same-sex romantic behaviors in an attempt to avoid the mistakes the university made around problematic doctrines and policies about race (which many perceived to be flat-out racist) when it came to accreditation and sporting problems. 

As the university strives to be seen as a place of enlightenment and learning, it depends on upholding the values of enlightened thinking; and the simple reality is, contrary to the principles of ‘the LDS gospel,’ that science and medicine and even society itself no longer view same-sex behaviors or homosexuality itself to be an aberration or abomination, but rather a natural, normal, and even healthy variation of human sexuality. 

So long as BYU seeks to prepare students to operate in a professional environment, as well as continue to work in conjunction and even coordinate with ‘the world’ (a.k.a. the rest of America) in terms of accreditation and sports, it can’t be perceived as unjustly and, increasingly, unlawfully discriminating against those that broader American society states cannot be discriminated against.  And THAT’S why I believe BYU removed the proscriptive language against same-sex behaviors.  If that doesn’t make sense, go back and re-read my first sentence of this paragraph.

I don’t believe for a second that the individuals answering the phones at the Honor Code Office who were saying that same-sex dating was ‘no longer prohibited’ were either going rogue or somehow giving out their own spin/unfounded conjecture on the University’s removal of that verbiage; given that numerous people consistently received the same story from different Honor Code employees, I believe those employees were all briefed on exactly what to say—and their explanations were consistent.  Neither do I believe that anyone involved was "jumping to unfounded conclusions"; as the numerous accounts reported in the press and even individual accounts in this very thread demonstrate, the explanations and verbiage from the Honor Code office were consistent; BYU “no longer prohibit[ed]” same-sex dating.  The BYU professor who earnestly sought to do the right thing by calling the Honor Code office and clarifying for himself even candidly stated in his video explanation that he asked the Honor Code office something to the effect of he wanted to be sure that what they were saying was accurate, since he was going to be sharing his conversation with the Honor Code with hundreds of his own students.  Numerous other accounts are all the same, including the posts here make reference to a bishop that called and got the same explanation.

In my view, contrary to what some have said, removing the language didn’t “clarify” anything.  And again, the explanations offered by the Honor Code office weren’t those of misguided or rogue Honor Code employees; I firmly believe those Honor Code agents were briefed and given exactly what they were supposed to say, and for the last two weeks, they gave the same consistent message that they’d been briefed to say.  And those explanations about the removal of the language prohibiting same-sex dating make perfect sense, in light of what I said previously: that BYU seeks to prepare students to operate in a professional environment, as well as continue to work in conjunction and even coordinate with ‘the world’ (a.k.a. the rest of America) in terms of accreditation and sports, it can’t be perceived as unjustly and, increasingly, unlawfully discriminating against those that broader American society states cannot be discriminated against. 

The main problem is that I don’t believe that BYU and the broader church were prepared for the ramifications of removing the language itself.  I think the Church, it’s leaders, and BYU’s board of directors thought they could quietly remove the language and hope the body of the church would still understand it’s implied prohibitive beliefs and views on same-sex behaviors and dating while simultaneously be seen by ‘the world’ as not being explicitly discriminatory, in order to still be viewed as  a credible place to prepare working professionals in a global society, as a non-discriminatory school worthy of being allowed to participate in sports, and worthy of accreditation in every meaningful way.

In short, the university struggles in ‘serving two masters,’ to a degree.  This time, IMO, it just got caught with it’s hand in that cookie jar, and it was unprepared for the fall out on both sides.

[reposted from “the other” thread, since there’s now two topics]
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8 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

It sounds like he was talking about the savebyu.com people etc who were explicitly saying that church leaders through the BYU policy change were going astray:

 

IMG_20200305_062451.jpg

Yeesh.  This sort of rhetoric is not helpful.  Patience should have been the order of the day.  Too bad so few ordered it.

Thanks,

-Smac

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14 hours ago, Duncan said:

i think it was in the 1970's that then Elder Packer traveled to Tonga and there wasn't a Temple anywhere nearby  and he said "where are we as a Church if I can't teach about the Temple to these Tongan saints?" I wonder similarly where we are as a Church if we can't get homosexual members to plan a Temple marriage, why can't we get a revelation as to what are we supposed to do with them, minus the Temple?-why even endow them then, or go further down the line baptize and confirm them?, they can't ever get married in the Temple and you need that for exaltation. The Church's logic seems to be that they can't get married in the Temple so no marriage=no exaltation-Can Gay members be exalted?

I don't extrapolate that logic from an academic behavioral code, as principles-based as the code is. Getting away from labels, all members no matter the label are children of God and can be exalted despite the apparent obstacles in this life along the path to baptism, personal temple ordinances, couples sealing, etc.

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24 minutes ago, Daniel2 said:

I don’t believe for a second that the individuals answering the phones at the Honor Code Office who were saying that same-sex dating was ‘no longer prohibited’ were either going rogue or somehow giving out their own spin/unfounded conjecture on the University’s removal of that verbiage; given that numerous people consistently received the same story from different Honor Code employees, I believe those employees were all briefed on exactly what to say—and their explanations were consistent.  Neither do I believe that anyone involved was "jumping to unfounded conclusions"; as the numerous accounts reported in the press and even individual accounts in this very thread demonstrate, the explanations and verbiage from the Honor Code office were consistent; BYU “no longer prohibit[ed]” same-sex dating.  The BYU professor who earnestly sought to do the right thing by calling the Honor Code office and clarifying for himself even candidly stated in his video explanation that he asked the Honor Code office something to the effect of he wanted to be sure that what they were saying was accurate, since he was going to be sharing his conversation with the Honor Code with hundreds of his own students.  Numerous other accounts are all the same, including the posts here make reference to a bishop that called and got the same explanation.

In my view, contrary to what some have said, removing the language didn’t “clarify” anything.  And again, the explanations offered by the Honor Code office weren’t those of misguided or rogue Honor Code employees; I firmly believe those Honor Code agents were briefed and given exactly what they were supposed to say, and for the last two weeks, they gave the same consistent message that they’d been briefed to say.  And those explanations about the removal of the language prohibiting same-sex dating make perfect sense, in light of what I said previously: that BYU seeks to prepare students to operate in a professional environment, as well as continue to work in conjunction and even coordinate with ‘the world’ (a.k.a. the rest of America) in terms of accreditation and sports, it can’t be perceived as unjustly and, increasingly, unlawfully discriminating against those that broader American society states cannot be discriminated against. 

The main problem is that I don’t believe that BYU and the broader church were prepared for the ramifications of removing the language itself.  I think the Church, it’s leaders, and BYU’s board of directors thought they could quietly remove the language and hope the body of the church would still understand it’s implied prohibitive beliefs and views on same-sex behaviors and dating while simultaneously be seen by ‘the world’ as not being explicitly discriminatory, in order to still be viewed as  a credible place to prepare working professionals in a global society, as a non-discriminatory school worthy of being allowed to participate in sports, and worthy of accreditation in every meaningful way.

In short, the university struggles in ‘serving two masters,’ to a degree.  This time, IMO, it just got caught with it’s hand in that cookie jar, and it was unprepared for the fall out on both sides.

[reposted from “the other” thread, since there’s now two topics]

This is the best, and most reasoned analysis of what took place that I've seen posted.  I agree with every word and it helps make sense of why it took 2 weeks for it to play out and eventually get an clarification from the leaders.  Church leaders are never shy about stepping in immediately and stopping something, but I do believe they were not prepared for what took place and it took them some time to figure out exactly how to deal with the situation.  I agree that the answers from the Honor Code Office were all the same and very similar (the ones I've read and heard) and not all from the same officer.  I think the one referenced in the news articles was the head of the Honor Code Office (can't think of his name...) and I know my Bishop did not speak directly to him, but received the same answer (almost word for word the same).

It really turned into a mess, IMO, and was very poorly thought out and handled from the top down.  There seems to have been a breakdown in communication somewhere in the line from the church leaders, to BYU, to the Honor Code officers, and then to the public and press.

It's good they finally did step in and issue a clarification, but it's too bad that it took them so long to do so.  And now students and members are left wondering why that section of the honor code (Homosexual Behavior) was removed if it's true that it still in deed is prohibited behavior.

Edited by ALarson
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Here's from the Trib today:

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2020/03/05/robert-gehrke-byu-hurt/

Quote

 

BYU hurt itself but, more importantly, hurt students with LGBTQ flip-flop

 

Brigham Young University has sure managed to “frick” over its gay students in a baffling display of incompetence.

Last month, the school, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stripped out of its Honor Code a prohibition on “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”

What came next should have surprised no one. Scores of relieved and jubilant LGBTQ students celebrated, posting photos on social media believing it was now OK to hold hands or hug or kiss another person of the same sex, just like their heterosexual classmates were allowed to do. And Honor Code officials told them it was OK. They asked.

The response was moving. You could feel the relief from students who had been deprived of expressing and sharing that affection and love, a fundamental part of who they are — really of who we all are — or at least sacrificed that part of themselves in order to get an education.

On Wednesday, the school did a complete reversal.

A letter from Paul V. Johnson, the commissioner of the Church Education System that oversees BYU, said there had been “some misinterpretation” of the Honor Code revision and that romantic same-sex behavior was not compatible with the Honor Code because it “cannot lead to eternal marriage” — which remains one of BYU’s prime directives.

Now, even if you share BYU’s position on same-sex relationships and even if you supported their past discipline of those students, I think we can all agree that the reversal, then re-reversal of the Honor Code was an unmitigated disaster.

The initial announcement was incompetently handled and abysmally communicated, then left without clarification for weeks, despite the obvious confusion it created.

Now it’s a public relations nightmare for the university, which is seen as having pulled a bait-and-switch on a move toward openness that many of its students — those who are LGBTQ and the many, many more who support their friends — had been pleading for for years.

Students turned out to protest the move by the hundreds, gathering in the Wilkinson Center, chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, the Honor Code has got to go.”

It’s perhaps fitting, since it was BYU President Ernest Wilkinson who implemented an Honor Code where women were banned from wearing pants, men were banned from wearing beards and homosexuals were banned altogether.

“If any of you have this tendency and have not completely abandoned it, may I suggest that you leave the university immediately,” Wilkinson reportedly told an assembly in 1965. “We do not want others on this campus to be contaminated by your presence.”

He seems nice.

This Honor Code 180 is more than in image problem. It was callous and cruel, giving students the hope that they might not have to hide their romantic feelings — really their true selves — only to drive them back into the shadows.

And going back into the closet is not even possible for all of those students who publicly celebrated the original change, posting pictures reveling in the elation of being able to openly love who they love for the first time.

"There's pictures of me on the news, kissing a girl in front of the Brigham Young statue. People who didn't know before know now because I thought it didn't matter," student Lilly Bitter told my colleague Courtney Tanner. "It's so much more scrutiny, and I feel like I'm not safe here anymore.”

The university has tried to say the right things, while not admitting a mistake.

“We realize that emotions over the last two weeks cover the spectrum and that some have and will continue to feel isolation and pain,” said Kevin Utt, the director of BYU’s Honor Code Office in a Q&A posted on the school’s website, encouraging the campus community to treat each other with “sensitivity, love and respect.”

That would be the same “sensitivity, love and respect” that Utt and the university failed to show the students, the cause of so much “isolation and pain.”

I’m not going to run down the damage inflicted on these students. They know the rates at which these students will turn their back on their church. They know the rates of depression. They know the rates of suicide.

“The world is our campus,” as the school’s motto goes, so long as part of your world stays in the closet.

Look, BYU is a private university, run by a church. They can, within few limitations, do whatever they want and I try not to tell the university or the church what they should do. Students who enroll there understand the rules when they sign up although, frankly, I’ve never understood why LGBTQ students would want to attend a school that treats them less-than-human.

But I would advise university officials to consider their own Christian underpinnings when they look those students in the eyes — students who have finally had the terror lifted and tasted the smallest bit of freedom — and appreciate the torment the university’s incompetence has caused them.

Editor’s note: If you or people you know are at risk of self-harm, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24-hour support at 1-800-273-8255.

 

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News coverage from outside of Utah has started.  See here:

Quote

Mormon Church delivers stinging rebuke to BYU students with letter stating homosexual behavior is ‘not compatible’ with its principles

Just two weeks ago, LGBTQ students at Brigham Young University were cheering after the school deleted a section in its honor code that banned “homosexual behavior.” But on Wednesday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints poured cold water on their celebrations after it clarified that same-sex romantic behavior is still “not compatible” with BYU’s principles.

Glad to see the media once again doing a stellar job in dispassionately purveying news items to the general public.

🤨

Quote

Franchesca Lopez said she felt “free and cared for by the university for the first time in a long time” last month. She celebrated the deleted policy with her “first gay kiss.”

But on Wednesday, she told CNN, “I feel so stupid for believing that they cared about me.”

Zachary Ibarra, who is gay, was overjoyed as school administrators told his friends last month that they could hug and kiss partners of the same sex.

But he was also skeptical as the university said it would handle questions on a “case-by-case basis” and the new rules weren’t abundantly clear.

Well, his skepticism proved right, he told CNN Wednesday.

“This is exactly what I was scared of. BYU gave us two weeks of radio silence and in that time we had hope and really started to believe that the changes were here to stay and we were accepted as a part of the student body,” Ibarra said. “Now we have been slapped in (the) face.”

Hundreds of students gathered at BYU’s Wilkinson Student Center Wednesday afternoon to protest, according to Ibarra.

Students chanted, “Jesus loves me, so should you,” and “Love, not hate, is what makes BYU great,” Ibarra said.

No mention of the physical assault on the counter-protesting student who dared read out the Proclamation.

Doesn't fit the narrative, I guess.

Kudos to that dude.

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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And another article from the Trib (I'm posting the entire articles for those who can't access them):

https://www.sltrib.com/news/education/2020/03/04/after-byu-honor-code/

Quote

 

After BYU Honor Code change, LDS Church now says same-sex relationships are ‘not compatible’ with the faith’s rules

By Courtney Tanner

By Erin Alberty

By Peggy Fletcher Stack

 · Published: 20 hours ago
Updated: 11 hours ago

Provo • Despite removing the section on “homosexual behavior” from its Honor Code last month, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has clarified for the first time that same-sex romantic behavior is still “not compatible” with the rules at Brigham Young University.

The surprising announcement came Wednesday morning after weeks of questions about the change and after LGBTQ students had celebrated what they hoped that it meant. Many said they recently came out as gay only because they believed — and were told by some Honor Code staff — that the school and faith now allowed it.

“We felt like we finally had a place and then they ripped it away again,” said junior Katie Guerrero, who is bisexual.

In the afternoon, hundreds of students met in the campus quad to protest what they saw as a painful reversal by BYU. They solemnly sang church hymns and marched in a circle. One person clung to a poster that read, “Jesus said love everyone." And they chanted together, “The Honor Code is honor-less."

In his short letter Wednesday, Paul V. Johnson, a general authority Seventy and commissioner of the Church Educational System that oversees BYU’s campuses, said the Honor Code updates in mid-February led to “much discussion and some misinterpretation.” Johnson said he wanted to clarify “out of respect for all concerned.”

Today this letter from Elder Paul V. Johnson, Commissioner of the Church Educational System, regarding the updated Honor Code was sent to students and employees at all CES schools.

The Honor Code had previously prohibited “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings" at the university, which is owned by the LDS Church. Those who acted on such feelings could be punished or suspended.

In the update last month, that section was deleted. Students have said that staff in the Honor Code Office told them it meant they would no longer be disciplined for dating, holding hands with or kissing people of the same sex — as long as they upheld the faith’s existing expectation that couples remain chaste before marriage and its ban on same-sex marriage.

BYU officials immediately countered that there “may have been some miscommunication” but declined to elaborate.

In Johnson’s statement Wednesday, he wrote: “There is and always has been more to living the Lord’s standard of a chaste and virtuous life than refraining from sexual relations outside of marriage. Lasting joy comes when we live the spirit as well as the letter of God’s laws.”

He then cited the LDS Church’s “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” that says that gender is “an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose" and that marriage is, for the faith, only to be between a man and a woman.

He added: “Same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code.”

Students at the protest Wednesday challenged that, saying that kissing and hugging between heterosexual couples also doesn’t always “lead to eternal marriage.”

In addition to the letter, BYU also released a statement from Kevin Utt, the director of its Honor Code Office, whom many students said they had talked to directly after the change last month and who they said assured them that gay relationships would be allowed on campus.

In the response from Utt on Wednesday, he said that “any same-sex romantic behavior is a violation of the principles of the Honor Code.”

Utt acknowledged some students are likely to feel “isolation and pain" as a result of the announcement. And the school’s spokeswoman said counselors there are “well equipped to handle students’ crises,” including expertise in assisting LGBTQ students, who experience heightened risks of suicide and depression. She did not answer questions from The Salt Lake Tribune asking whether school officials specifically prepared or offered additional mental health resources or reached out in advance to vulnerable student groups before the statement came out.

“We realize that emotions over the last two weeks cover the spectrum,” Utt wrote in his response. “... We encourage all members of our campus community to reach out to those who are personally affected with sensitivity, love and respect.”

Hundreds of students had originally celebrated the Honor Code change last month before the clarification — with many coming out openly as gay or lesbian in response and many more attending a Rainbow Day event on campus.

Now, some say they feel gaslit, as though they were tricked into coming out as part of a sting.

“I was telling [a therapist] how I’m very happy now to be at BYU and to know that I can be myself and talk to people about dating and not have fear of being suspended,” said senior Danny Dawson, who is gay. “I didn’t realize how much that had been looming over me until it was gone.”

Just hours later he received an email from the school with Johnson’s statement. “I read it and said, ‘Please tell me this isn’t saying what I think it is,’ ” Dawson said.

After the change was announced last month, Franchesca Lopez, who is bisexual, had grabbed a female friend on campus and kissed her in front of the school’s statue of Brigham Young. She posted pictures online. She’s now feeling heartbroken and devastated.

“I feel so incredibly stupid to have believed BYU cared about me or anyone else,” she said.

Wednesday’s apparent about-face leaves a lot of LGBTQ students far more vulnerable than they were even before BYU updated the Honor Code last month, said Ciera Galbraith, a BYU senior who is bisexual. "Everyone is in so much fear now,” she added.

Galbraith helped organize the rally on campus Wednesday. Nearly 1,000 students marched with rainbow flags for three hours. At the start, they quietly chorused together: “As I have loved you, love one another.”

Some female couples held hands — despite the reaffirmed ban — while others hugged and cried. And they walked together in a circle that continued to expand. It was one of the biggest protests ever held at the campus.

“There’s a lot of sadness right now," said Zach Ibarra, a senior who is gay.

Tiauna Lomax said she came out as bisexual last week, feeling confident after the Honor Code section on “homosexual behavior” was removed. After the change Wednesday, she feels “traumatic whiplash.”

“I thought BYU cared about me,” Lomax added. She’s now considering transferring to another school.

During the rally, a few individuals spoke out against the massive crowd, but each one was drowned out by chants of “Gay rights” and “Love, not hate, will make BYU great." One student tried to read the "family proclamation,” though he didn’t make it to the second sentence before he was overwhelmed by LGBTQ protesters surrounding him with their posters. “Love means love,” one read. “Let gay students date,” said another. Others had references to scriptures scribbled on them in black marker.

Lilly Bitter, a junior, said she doesn’t know whether she’ll be allowed to keep attending BYU after celebrating the previous change with her girlfriend.

"There's pictures of me on the news, kissing a girl in front of the Brigham Young statue. People who didn't know before know now because I thought it didn't matter," Bitter said. "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."

In a Q&A attached to the campuswide email, Utt said that students are not required to turn in their classmates for “romantic behavior” but said they should “encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code.” It’s unclear, though, if those who have been open about their sexual orientation in the past few weeks will be questioned or disciplined.

Michael Austin, executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Evansville, a Methodist school in Indiana, said Wednesday that BYU’s explicit prohibition will produce more negative press for the school than it would have a month ago.

The Provo-based university got a lot of “positive national press” — including from CNN and ESPN — when it first appeared to be allowing LGBTQ romantic behavior, said Austin, a Latter-day Saint. "Until two weeks ago, nobody knew what their policy was; now everybody does. It’s not just that they made this policy decision but made it when everybody was paying attention.”

There is no legal issue for the private school, he said. It has a right to prohibit same-sex couples from dating. The school’s board of trustees largely overlaps with church leadership. And the changes were made in line with recent updates to the faith’s handbook.

But other schools have the legal right to protest BYU’s action, Austin said, to refuse to affiliate with the university, or to advertise its job openings in their publications, which happened last fall with two nationally recognized science societies.

There likely will be more such incidents, Austin said, in which “affinity groups” — including athletic conferences, academic disciplines and social organizations — choose not to allow the LDS-affiliated school to join or to host events based on the honor code’s stance on LGBTQ behavior.

Next week, the Provo campus will be the site of the prestigious national ballroom dance championships, after the school said it would allow same-sex couples to compete. It had to change its long-standing rules to do so.

But, with the clarification Tuesday, the policy hasn’t budged for BYU students.

 

 

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7 hours ago, Duncan said:

we had a Stake President, his RM brother died of AIDS in the 1980's, I never knew him but my folks did, they said it was so sad, course back then they didn't know then what they know now. I had a friend who was gay, kicked out of BYU in 2000 or 2001, left the Church. I know others who are gay and all are out of the Church except for 1 or 2 that I know of. It's almost like you come out of the closet and then you leave the Church

Just the opposite. My friend served his mission, came out, left the Church, fully embraced the lifestyle, and contracted AIDS. One day he looked in the mirror and said to himself, this is not who I am. I am a son of God. Then he repented, came back, and lives a celibate but fruitful life, much to his surprise and sometimes dismay (because of the things AIDS has done to his body). 
 

Sadly, a very close friend’s 9-year-old son (member of our ward) died after being infected through a transfusion of tainted blood. At the time, there was lack of knowledge and fear about the means of transmission and no treatment. 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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17 hours ago, california boy said:

Not sure where this is coming from, but having HIV rarely is something you die from.  The medications currently used are highly effective.  I know many guys that have HIV and have for years.  Some of these post seem to be implying that if you are positive, you are on a certain road to an early death.  That simply is not true.  

Of course I am completely. unaware of your friends history, but I did not want a false narrative narrative  that being positive means your health is compromised.  

I might also add, since those reading this blog may be unaware of current science on this issue, that a person may be positive and still safely have sex with another person.  The current medication makes it possible to have a zero viral load, which makes infecting another person very rare.  That said, I am not advocating not taking prudent precautions.  This post is meant to inform, not some kind of political post.  

He was in the first waves of the HIV infection and has AIDS. His body is ravaged by the disease and the effects of the drugs he has been given. Many days he cannot get out of bed. He should have died years ago, yet he serves others when he is able. It has not been a picnic. I’m glad there is better treatment now.

He has a public Facebook page and openly journals his life. I would be happy to share it with you.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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19 minutes ago, smac97 said:

News coverage from outside of Utah has started.  See here:

Glad to see the media once again doing a stellar job in dispassionately purveying news items to the general public.

🤨

No mention of the physical assault on the counter-protesting student who dared read out the Proclamation.

Doesn't fit the narrative, I guess.

Kudos to that dude.

-Smac

I see a young woman in the center-left background striking and pushing a man, and another person restraining her.

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7 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

He was in the first waves of the HIV infection and has AIDS. His body is ravaged by the disease and the effects of the drugs he has been given. Many days he cannot get out of bed. He should have died years ago, yet he serves others when he is able. It has not been a picnic. I’m glad there is better treatment now.

Got it.  Yeah from what I have been told, those early drugs were almost worse than the disease itself.  Sorry for your friend.

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