By Nico Lang
Brigham Young University was the only school Ben Asplund ever wanted to go to. Each of the colleges he applied to were affiliated with the world’s largest Mormon university: the main campus in Provo, Utah, along with BYU outposts in Laie, Hawaii, and Rexburg, Idaho. Asplund was eventually accepted to the Provo campus, which is where his parents met and fell in love. His siblings went there.
“It’s always been my dream school,” Asplund said. “I always pictured myself being a BYU grad.”
But like many queer students attending BYU, Asplund’s dream turned into a nightmare after the university reneged on its decision to allow same-sex couples to date on campus for the very first time. On February 19, the school struck language from its mandatory Honor Code banning any form of “physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings,” which had been interpreted as prohibiting queer students from kissing or even holding hands.
That decision was met with widespread elation from the queer student body at BYU, many of whom came out publicly after officials with the Honor Code office privately told them the new policy meant that they would be permitted to date. That understanding, however, was rolled back after the Church Educational System, which oversees all BYU campuses, released a statement last Wednesday clarifying that the “moral standards” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had not changed. Although the LDS Church permits its members to be gay, acting on same-sex attraction by engaging in physical intimacy is grounds for excommunication.
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