In its sexual misconduct policy, Baylor University has removed language stipulating disciplinary action for those who engage in “homosexual acts,” a change that school administrators said better reflects its values as “a caring community.”
Baylor defines misconduct as “personal behavior on or off campus that interferes with Baylor’s pursuit of its educational and Christian objectives,” as well as behavior disregarding others’ rights or safety or violates university regulations.
In its list of examples of misconduct, the school includes cohabitation, understood as “a male and female living together who are not married to each other.” Its policy on sexual conduct states that the university “will be guided by the biblical understanding that human sexuality is a gift from God and that physical sexual intimacy is to be expressed in the context of marital fidelity.”
Baylor officials have not said whether the school would allow married same-sex couples in on-campus housing after the U.S. Supreme Court imposed gay marriage in all 50 states.
Prior to this week, university policy stated that “misuses of God’s gift will be understood to include but not limit to, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, incest, adultery, fornication, and homosexual acts.”
According to Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman, “These changes were made because we didn’t believe the language reflected the university’s caring community.”
Fogleman also said that the change was “part of a larger effort to review and evaluate all university policies and make amendments as deemed necessary.”
The university still expressly “affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality” and proposes “purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm.”
The policy states:
Temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior. It is thus expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching.
A well-known Baylor graduate, basketball player Brittney Griner, published an autobiography called In My Skin: My Life On and Off the Basketball Court, in which she speaks of the frustration of masking her lesbianism while attending Baylor from 2009 to 2013.
“They are more than happy to benefit from the success of their gay athletes. That is, as long as those gay athletes don’t talk about being gay,” she wrote.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.