Several universities have begun inviting applicants to self-identify as LGBT, a step that provides the school with information to better serve LGBT students and demonstrates that the campus wants to be welcoming to all students. Some students at Brigham Young University (BYU), which is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, experienced a different approach.
In a new survey to “better understand your views on marriage and same-sex attraction,” LDS leaders invited respondents to share demographic information about themselves. The survey was discovered after several BYU students received it. The question asking their sexual orientation, however, provided some fairly limited options:
What is your sexual orientation?
- I am heterosexual, but I struggle with same-sex attraction.
- I am heterosexual and do not struggle with same-sex attraction.
- Other, please specify:
A year and a half ago, the Mormon Church published a new resource under the heading of “Mormons and Gays.” Despite the title, the guidance similarly rejected the possibility of a same-sex orientation, instead simply referring to “people with same-sex attractions.” Having such attractions “should not be viewed as a disease or illness,” but acting on them, the Church asserted, is still a sin. The only way for gay Mormons to stay members of the Church is to practice chastity for life. Since then, there has been a renewed push to encourage gay Mormons into ex-gay therapy.
All students at BYU are required to follow an Honor Code, the first tenet of which is to “Be honest.” If survey respondents make use of the write-in blank, the Church might learn that some of its members openly identify as LGBT, not “heterosexual, but…”:
This post has been updated to reflect that the survey was distributed directly by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, not by Brigham Young University.
A Church spokesperson informed ThinkProgress that because the original question was “unclear,” it has been reworded as such:
Do you experience same-sex attraction?
The purpose of the survey, he explained, is to “understand the attitudes and opinions of Millennials. “