Brigham Young University removed a ban on "homosexual behavior" from its honor code, the Mormon institution said Wednesday, in an effort to match church policy.
The announcement came the same day the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints released its new handbook, but did not specify what displays of affection same-gender couples are allowed to do.
Until now, the code defined homosexual behavior as "all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings," such as kissing, holding hands and sex. Any of those actions had violated BYU's honor code, which students must follow on and off campus in order to graduate and take classes.
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"The Honor Code Office will handle questions that arise on a case by case basis," the university said Wednesday. "For example, since dating means different things to different people, the Honor Code Office will work with students individually."
The previous policy said a student's "stated same-gender attraction" was not an issue, but a BYU valedictorian made national headlines when he came out as gay during a graduation speech last year, and one student said other LGBTQ athletes stay closeted to avoid abuse.
Addison Jenkins, a former BYU student, told The Salt Lake Tribune the change will improve the lives of LGBTQ students at the Mormon institution.
“We’ve been vulnerable and authentic and persistently asked for the university to treat us queer students the same as our straight peers,” Jenkins told the paper. “Today, that work finally paid off.”
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The church does not support same-sex marriage and its handbook says sex between people of the same gender "undermines the divinely created institution of the family." Gay Mormons are allowed to be part of the church, however, and their children can be baptized without special permission.
More than 2 million Mormons live in Utah, which BYU calls home, accounting for about one-third of all Mormons in the nation.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: BYU removes homosexual behavior ban from honor code