Urge The Church Education Systems Commissioner To Voluntarily Resign

Urge The Church Education Systems Commissioner To Voluntarily Resign

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Jordan Jackson started this petition to Church Education Systems Commissioner Elder Paul V. Johnson

On February 19th the Church Educational System (CES) made updates to its Honor Code. The changes included the removal of a section regarding homosexual behavior. Many students and faculty reached out to the BYU Honor Code office, the office whose role it is to enforce and ensure student compliance with Honor Code standards through guidance by the CES, asking for clarification on the matter. Those who reached out were told that same-sex dating and same-sex public displays of affection would be treated equally to actions of individuals of the opposite sex. Due to the nature of the CES's historical stance on these issues, this news drew both local and national media attention.

On February 21st the Honor Code Office tweeted saying that there was some miscommunication as to what the Honor Code changes meant, and that it would handle situations that arise on a case by case basis, as opposed to its previous blanket policy. This was the only direction given to both students and faculty until March 4th, 2020 when the Commissioner of the CES sent a letter to all faculty and students of campuses effected by the Honor Code. The letter stated "Same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code." This phrasing is in direct contrast to statements made by the CES through the Honor Code Office that same-sex dating and PDAs would not violate or be incompatible with the Honor Code.

The CES's lack of immediate clarification on the matter when the changes were made, as well as the inconsistencies between statements and positions, shows that the CES Commissioner and the Commission itself failed to fulfill several of their responsibilities. They failed to communicate effectively to the general public, students and faculty, and those directly involved with handling questions regarding the policy change; including what the removal meant and how it affected parties involved. They also failed to provide clarification in a timely manner to address and correct the public, students and faculty, and their own staff. It seems as though the Commission did not have a clear idea of what they policies meant; or that they were not competent enough to write and/or execute a more direct and consistent release. If the Commission and its governing directors certified or directed the effort, they were negligent in limiting damage to both the students, facility, and community it impacted, and negligent in limiting damage to BYU's reputation.

Additionally, the handling of the policy change lead to burden and pain on BYU students, namely those who identify as a member of the LGBTQ community. The changed guidance through the Honor Code Office, stating that LGBTQ PDA and dating would be acceptable, allowed several members of the community to be vulnerable and publicly "come out". Now that this is no longer the stance of the CES or has been clarified by the CES, the inherit inequity of the situation and the break in trust is tangible and hurtful. Many in the LGBTQ community didn't feel safe at BYU and feel especially unsafe after this incident. A place of higher education should be a place for all to feel safe and validated. This incident highlighted both the incompetence and negligence of the Church Education System's Commissioner and Commission. Due to the reasons listed above, the undersign request the CES Commissioner voluntarily resign his position. 

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