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BYU student video on homosexuality is not in violation of honor code, says administrator
One unnamed male student in the BYU video says he had thoughts of suicide.
April 9th, 2012
06:52 PM ET

BYU student video on homosexuality is not in violation of honor code, says administrator

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN)-– The students featured in a video about being gay at Brigham Young University are not in obvious violation of the honor code, according to Carri Jenkins, an assistant to the president of BYU.

Jenkins went on to say that for the video alone, the students would not be punished. The honor code, Jenkins said, is “based on conduct, not on feeling, and if same-gender attraction is only stated, that is not an honor code issue.”

All BYU students sign on to the honor code upon enrollment. The code outlaws premarital sex and breaking the code “may result in actions up to and including separation from the university.”

“Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates 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,” reads the honor code.

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The 9 minute, 37 second video features a number of gay, lesbian and bisexual students around BYU and is part of the larger “It Gets Better” video campaign started by writer Dan Savage. The project was started in response to a rash of suicides of teenagers who were bullied for being gay. The goal of the videos is to let people know they are not alone and that life gets better.

“It is very different to be gay and Mormon because it feels like neither community accepts you completely,” said Bridey Jensen, acting president of the group Understanding Same-Gender Attraction. “We put out the message for youth that are going through this and we want them to know that we were them a few years ago and it gets better and there is a place for you.”

Jensen’s organization is not recognized by the university, but she did say that professors and administrators have been supportive of what the group is trying to do.

The BYU video is unique in the fact that it discusses being gay at a university that has consistently been ranked as the most unfriendly campus for LGBT students in the country, according to Princeton Review.

Brigham Young is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and many of the school’s board members are also church officials.

In 2007, the honor code was changed to state that it is based on conduct, not on feeling. Jenkins said, however, that the university observed that policy even before the rule change.

“One's stated sexual orientation is not an honor code issue,” was added in 2007.

Throughout the video, students speak of the hardships they have encountered. In some instances, students talk about their thoughts of suicide.

"I thought that eventually maybe it would be better if I died," said one unnamed male student, "so I did everything I could to really be that perfect Mormon. I thought that was going to cure myself."

Jenkins said what concerned her most about the videos was the talk of suicide.

“I hoped they would use the services available to them and that they would take advantage of the professional services that we have,” Jenkins said, speaking about the university's counseling services.

Though Jensen acknowledged the hardships of being gay and Mormon, she said that in her leadership of this unaffiliated group she has seen an unexpected changing attitude among Mormons toward gay rights.

Jensen said she believes that while church doctrine has not changed, feelings toward LGBT members of the church have.

“I am not sure how much the doctrine or policy within the church will change, but there is definitely a changing of how they treat the issue and how they treat the people who are gay,” Jensen said. “It is definitely getting better within the church. They are not so quick to judge. They understand that they don’t understand everything.”

Richard Bushman, a pre-eminent scholar on the doctrine and history of Mormonism, echoed Jensen. He says the fact this debate is even allowed to occur is a signal of liberalization in attitudes toward homosexuality in Mormonism.

“The last 10 years have been a huge sea change in terms of willingness to accept homosexuals,” Bushman said. “Gay kids are still going to have a tough time in the church, but this level of acceptance and acknowledgement, that is really that last decade I would say.”

Even within the last decade, however, the church has had a confrontational history with gay rights. When Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment to make same-sex marriage illegal in California, was challenged, Mormons contributed half the $40 million war chest that was used to defend the proposition, according to TIME magazine. Mormons made up 2% of the Californian population.

During the Proposition 8 debate, the church leadership penned a letter that was to be read to all congregations on June 29, 2008.

“We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman,” read the letter. “Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.”

The response from gay rights activists was fierce; many accused the church of bigotry and blind religious obedience.

Jensen, however, as a gay Mormon, took a more nuanced look at the Proposition 8 debate.

“I think that what Prop 8 was all about was the church has a stance that eternal marriage is between a man and a woman,” Jensen said. “As a religious institution, they have every right to protect that.”

Jensen said that while the church defended that position, congregants at large “don’t view us [LGBT Mormons] any different.”

In the video, the students state that 1,800 students at BYU are members of the LGBT community. According to Jensen, those numbers were extrapolated from national numbers that show between 6% and 10% of people have homosexual urges at some point in their lives.

With around 34,000 students at BYU, Jensen said they figured around 1,800 would have experience homosexual urges.

Jenkins disputes those numbers, stating that the university has never collected data on the number of LGBT students at BYU. Those numbers are not “scientifically valid,” Jenkins said.


soundoff (659 Responses)
  1. myklds

    The Church doesn't condemn gays but the act thereof.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Nonimus

      According to Matthew 5:28, wouldn't it only be wrong to be a straight man or a gay woman. Gay men and straight women ought to be fine though.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Just to clarify, doesn't 5:28 disagree with with what you said?

      April 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Chad

      Great verse Nominus. Now understand it. It's a simple matter of applying a study of usage changes throughout time. Lusting after anyone, man or woman, is committing adultery in your heart. In context of biblical times, to say he or she is most generally applicable to either one (as is still the case in many languages today) just as to say "all mankind" doesn't exclude women (even when using that phrase in English today).

      April 10, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Jessica

      Chad-Fantastic posts as usual!

      🙂

      April 10, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Ummm

      Actually that is not true mykids, there are churches around the world the do not condemn the gay lifestyle at all and have said it's not a sin. There has even been groups of priests that have written apology letters to the gay community. Prejudice breeds prejudice and it's sad that it's Christians that are the main contributors.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  2. Bhoss

    if being gay so wrong then why does it feel so right?

    April 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  3. MASTRODAMUS

    This article is gay.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  4. Just one more step.........

    Ohhh how so many of us long for the day when religion will no longer stand in the way of human happiness and well-being.

    I watched the video and found it so interesting. Seems like the elephant in the room is not being gay, it's that religion is what has held all this back. I wonder how many of the kids in the video are closeted atheists, or at least doubters. Wouldn't it be great to see a follow-up video to this in which these kids say "you know what, I'm taking the next step, I'm walking away from the myth of mormanism"

    Stay strong fellow rationalists, it get's better.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  5. bobby frank-dallas texas

    One of my best friends was a Mormon that went to BYU briefly before being kicked out for being gay. He was dedicated to his religion and they kicked him out the door for being honest! I guess he could have lied and stayed in and everything would have been ok. I respect him for not doing that and telling the truth which i think is very admirable in a real person.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • JAB

      as far as I could tell, everyone at BYU was gay lol

      April 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Ahh

      There is obviously more to the store. He would have had to physically act on those feelings to get kicked out. He signed the honor code, he knew what he was committing to. Please don't state things like they are facts when they're not actually truth.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  6. Casey

    dav – – H o m o s e x u a l i ty is considered a normal part of human s e x u a l i t y by the following professional mental health associations: The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Counseling Association, the Canadian Psychological Association, and the National Association of Social Workers.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • ohmygod50

      Let me get this 'straight.' A gay student enrolled at BYU? What an idiot. Sorry. How about NYU?

      April 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Ummm

      "Let me get this 'straight.' A gay student enrolled at BYU? What an idiot. Sorry. How about NYU?"

      Just think that is what happen when a black person enrolled in an all white college....and what happened....their prejudice was exposed.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  7. Archangel Michael

    The wisdom of man is foolishness to God. The wisdom of God is foolishness to man.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Nonimus

      " The wisdom of God is foolishness to man."
      True, He does sound pretty foolish.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      What does that say about those who follow something they know to be foolish?

      April 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  8. just sayin

    Jesus was gay,,what is the big deal???????????

    April 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Ignorant troll. You, and those of your ilk, are every bit as pathetic as the actual "just saying" and all his fake ID sockpuppets.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • just sayin

      Why so angry???? Prove that Jesus wasn't gay. The evidence points the other way. Am I wrong?

      April 10, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • just sayin

      I think this thread would be a great opportunity to discuss the gayness of Jesus. Evidence points to the fact he was quite gay. Is there evidence that he was not gay looking at his "acts" and lifestyle? Discussion?

      April 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • just sayin

      We know he had a special love for his 12 buddies and slept with them.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • jbcal

      You made the statement that he was gay, where is your proof?

      April 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Pathetic putz. You don't even have the balls to post as yourself.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • just sayin

      jbcal

      You made the statement that he was gay, where is your proof?

      >
      He lived with men, loved men, slept with men and bathed men. That is pretty strong for startes.....do you have anything other than assumption that he wasn't?

      April 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • just sayin

      Primewonk

      Pathetic putz. You don't even have the balls to post as yourself.
      >

      My my the anger once again. I am posting as myself as much as you are or anybody else here.

      Sincerely

      Edward Lee Jones

      April 10, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • just sayin

      But you can call me Sparky if you want.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Don't feed the trolls.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • just sayin

      Considering the lifestyle spelled out, I think this is a valid question and the eivdence points to quite the opposite...while believers assume he wasn't.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • just sayin

      Of course considering the evidence I can see how some might turn away or avoid this topic.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  9. uisignorant

    So what.....
    Why is this news and who cares?

    April 10, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Wade

      This is news because the media, especially CNN, wants to make it a campaign issue. Now that Santorum is out of the race, most of the networks will dig up any controversial piece they can on Romney's religion to divide the masses and keep us from talking about the real issues.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  10. dav

    these guys are pathetic and they shouldn't have attended BYU in the first place,they need help and the leaders and school will be interested to help them as long as they come to terms with the fact that they have a problem rather than acceptance and integration.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Being born gay is no more a "problem" than being born left-handed. Not sure why you have a problem with that.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • TommyTT

      They don't have a problem. The university does. They don't need to change. The university does.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • markd

      Watch, they will find a way to get this out of BYU so they don't "corrupt" any other good little Mormons...

      April 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • beelzabarber

      you were born stupid...too bad they couldnt help you

      April 10, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  11. sonofamram

    I'm fairly open minded. I am open to the idea that being gay can be either a choice or a genetic anomaly.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Ummm

      It's amazing in this day and age people are too dumb to get that the experts around the world have shown being gay is not a choice. The truth is being prejudice is a choice.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Primewonk

      It's neither a choice or a genetic anomaly. It's a biological multivariate based in genetics, hormonal baths in utero, neuronal plasticity, neuroanatomy, etc.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • GodPot

      Most Christians have a warped concept of what being "gay" is and often confuse it with what most people would consider bi-se.xuality which has more to do with being free to experiment even though a person is fairly comfortable with their visible assigned gender. They want to believe being gay just means a straight person decides to get off anyway they can with anyone or anything they want just for fun which is simply untrue.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  12. Blanca DeBree

    So it gets better, but if you are at BYU, being gay can get you disciplined. I think it gets better the day you leave BYU and Utah far behind.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  13. oh please

    it
    does
    NOT
    get
    better
    OBVIOUSLY or this article would not exist

    April 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Casey

      oh please – It does get better. Most gay people I know who were bullied in school now have amazing lives.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • momoya

      Care to explain your reasoning? Anybody can make a statement.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Wallace

      All the gay people I know live successful lives, have wonderful families and live in nice neighborhoods, so it does get better.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  14. coder

    Another american prophet – joining the fad of religion

    Why is it – every nation has a prophet heralding one god – yet each one represents a different god.........Or did all the prophets skip the part were we are all one of the human race, with faith in one god........... Either god got it wrong or man did............. I'm betting on the latter

    As long as these religions think they know the will of any god – humans are in danger

    April 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Nonimus

      It's most likely both.
      Man got it wrong that there was a god to get it right.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  15. no nothing

    I wish Rick would stay in the race he brings out what is soooo goood about America.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • AreYouKiddingMe

      And what is that?? Racism and Bigotry??

      April 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Lol

      "And what is that?? Racism and Bigotry??"

      of course..

      April 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  16. Wonder Woman

    A Gay Mormon. What a hoot!

    April 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  17. Nick

    I lived in Utah long enough to know there is no way I'm voting for Romney. And I'm a Republican.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Penobscot11

      I lived in Colorado long enough to know there is no way I'm voting for Obama.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  18. Jodey

    Ugh, Mormons.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Ugh, Jodey!

      April 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Burps

      Ugh, non-mormons!

      April 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • UGG

      Boots!

      April 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  19. Steve

    Wow, definitely no hot lesbians in that video. Disappointing. Maybe the pressure at BYU to get married is too great–they fail at attracting a mate of the opposite gender and thus decide to be gay. The logical inconsistency of claiming to be gay (and self-identifying as such) and simultaneously claiming to be LDS is strange.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It does seem about as incongruous as a black klansman, doesn't it?

      April 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Kevin Vales

      I don't find it that strange (Although I myself am fairly agnostic). Religion is kind of self-propagating as you tend to be whatever your family raises you to be. There are good and bad parts of all things as big as religion (Including the LDS), and those who are gay and religious tend to try and focus on the good of their religion. I would say that there are states (Say Texas) that are overall anti-gay, but it is totally possible to be gay and be a proud Texan, even if you don't agree with all Texan values...

      April 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Ummmm

      Being gay isn't a choice.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Casey

      There are many gay Christians, and I am one of them. There is nothing logically inconsistent with being gay and being Christian.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Kevin wrote, " it is totally possible to be gay and be a proud Texan, even if you don't agree with all Texan values..."

      Texas passed a consti.tutional amendment that not only prohibits gay marriage, but it prohibits any chance of even civil unions for gay folks.

      The Texas Health and Safety Code mandates that, "The materials in the education programs intended for persons younger than 18 years of age must ... state that ho.mose.xual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under §21.06 of the Penal Code." – even though that penal code was struck done by SCOTUS.

      In Texas, you can be fired for being gay.

      In Texas, you can be discriminated against in housing, just for being gay.

      So, how can someone be gay in Texas, and be proud to be Texan?

      April 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • just sayin

      Casey,

      Jesus was gay so there is nothing wrong with you are how you choose to live your life.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Casey,
      Do you mean other than the normal inconsistencies in being Christian in the first place?

      April 10, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Like me, I'm full-pledge gay but keep make believing likewise pretending to be a lady when I'm nothing but a GAGA!

      April 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  20. Reality

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    Abrahamics" believe that their god created all of us and of course that includes the g-ay members of the human race. Also, those who have studied ho-mo-se-xuality have determined that there is no choice involved therefore ga-ys are ga-y because god made them that way.

    To wit:

    o The Royal College of Psy-chiatrists stated in 2007:

    “ Despite almost a century of psy-choanalytic and psy-chological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heteros-exual or hom-ose-xual orientation. It would appear that s-exual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of ge-netic factors and the early ut-erine environment. Se-xual orientation is therefore not a choice.[60] "

    "Garcia-Falgueras and Swaab state in the abstract of their 2010 study, "The fe-tal brain develops during the intraut-erine period in the male direction through a direct action of tes-tosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hor-mone surge. In this way, our gender identi-ty (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and s-exual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender ident–ity or s-exual orientation."[8

    See also the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

    Of course, those gays who belong to Abrahamic religions abide by the rules of no adu-ltery or for-nication allowed.

    And because of basic biology differences said monogamous ventures should always be called same-s-ex unions not same-s-ex marriages.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • no nothing

      S-O wah-t is yo-ur p-oint?

      April 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Reality

      The OT and NT passages concerning ho-mo-se-xuality are null and void.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.