After years of appeals by students and alumni, Baylor University has removed a ban on "homosexual acts" from its sexual conduct policy.
And although the decision was announced just this week, the change wasn’t in response to the landmark Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. Lori Fogleman, a university spokeswoman, said in a statement emailed to news media Tuesday that the Waco, Texas, school quietly changed its policy May 15:
"These changes were made because we didn't believe the language reflected Baylor's caring community. We are pleased with the recent changes to the policy language and that it states more plainly the expectations of the university.”
Baylor's previous policy deemed gay sex a "misuse of God's gift," along with incest, adultery, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and sexual assault.
The Associated Press reports the new policy states that "physical sexual intimacy is to be expressed in the context of marital fidelity."
As The Advocate previously reported, the student government voted to change the campus sexual conduct code in October 2013. The university’s student senate replaced “homosexual acts” with “non-marital consensual deviate sexual intercourse,” but the student body president vetoed the measure and it was never presented to the university regents.
The school was ranked among the 20 most LGBT-unfriendly by the Princeton Review in 2014. Fogleman did not say whether the update would have implications for married same-sex couples at the school. The sexual conduct policy still cites a 1963 Southern Baptist doctrine that defines marriage as lifetime commitment between a man and a woman, according to the Associated Press.
Baylor's policy toward gay students affected Brittney Griner when she was a student and basketball center there. While attending Baylor, Griner was forced to remove Twitter messages and photos of her girlfriend. Griner now plays with the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, and she is the first openly gay athlete to sign with Nike and model clothing. She is currently featured baring all in ESPN the Magazine's sixth annual Body Issue, as reported by our sibling magazine Out.
The university — the oldest one in Texas — has a history of what NBC News described as “reluctant to change:” it didn't lift a ban on dancing until the 1990s, the Houston Chronicle reported, and still enforces a ban on alcohol.