A historically Baptist university in Texas quietly removed a reference to homosexuality from its sexual misconduct policy earlier this year, changing the title of the policy and seemingly softening its language about "disciplinary procedures" for those who violate its standards.
Spire of the Dutton Building on Baylor University campus. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)
Baylor University in Waco, Texas, axed the following line from its 2007 policy about the "gift" of sexuality: "Misuses of God's gift will be understood to include, but not be limited to, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, incest, adultery, fornication and homosexual acts."
That said, the school did not endorse same-sex relationships in the updated text, and homosexuality is still present in the university's "Statement on Human Sexuality."
The latest change to the misconduct policy, though, was made on May 15 by the school's board of regents, with a spokeswoman claiming that the language change came amid concerns that the policy in its previous form wasn't properly reflecting the college's "caring community," the Huffington Post reported.
"These changes were made because we didn't believe the language reflected Baylor's caring community," Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman told the outlet, though she declined to say whether gay relationships still violated university codes. "We are pleased with the recent changes to the policy language and that it states more plainly the expectations of the university."
In a separate email to the Waco Tribune, she added, "The university has a responsibility to articulate clearly and consistently Baylor’s commitment to its values as a Christian university."
While Fogleman didn't elaborate on gay relationships, she did note that the current policy states that it is in line with the "Baptist Faith and Message of 1963," which defines marriage as "one man and one woman." This doctrinal reference was not mentioned in the previous policy.
Here's how the misconduct standards — which were previously amended in 2007 — read before the recent revision, according to an archived version of the policy:
In all disciplinary procedures, Baylor University will seek to be redemptive in the lives of the individuals involved and to witness to the high moral standards of the Christian faith. Baylor will be guided by the understanding that human sexuality is a gift from the creator God and that the purposes of this gift include (1) the procreation of human life and (2) the uniting and strengthening of the marital bond in self-giving love. These purposes are to be achieved through heterosexual relationships within marriage. Misuses of God's gift will be understood to include, but not be limited to, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, incest, adultery, fornication and homosexual acts.
And here's how that same section now reads:
Baylor 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. Thus, it is expected that Baylor students, faculty and staff will engage in behaviors consistent with this understanding of human sexuality.
Another notable change to the text was in its title. Previously referred to as a "Sexual Misconduct" policy, it has since been changed to a "Sexual Conduct policy — a slight, but notable language change.
While discipline was mentioned in the former, a simple expectation of compliance is referenced in the latter.
The Baylor University policy change comes after some students first proposed removing the reference to homosexuality back in 2013 in an effort to make gays and lesbians feel less ostracized on campus.
(H/T: Huffington Post)