Former BYU assistant dean speaks out against Honor Code

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A former Brigham Young University employee is speaking out against the school’s Honor Code clarification.

“I feel the need to speak out because I think I am uniquely positioned as someone who’s had a lot of experience from inside the organization at BYU and has had a lot of close inner interaction with the administration at BYU to understand some of the things that are going on there,” said Allison Phillips Belnap.

Belnap is a former assistant dean of BYU’s law school, former faculty member and former student.

Eventually, after numerous suicide attempts, Belnap said she left BYU and then came out as a lesbian.

Belnap is sharing her story because she feels she can relate with students who may feel at risk or marginalized following BYU’s Honor Code debacle.

Last month The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints removed the words “homosexual behavior” from a list of Honor Code violations which made some LGBTQ students believe that the school was allowing it. Paul V. Johnson, the commissioner of the church educational system, sent out a clarification letter stating that same-sex romantic behavior is still “not compatible” with BYU’s Honor Code.

“To engender that kind of hope, and then this feeling of yeah, we can be acceptable, yes, we can belong somewhere, and then to just sort of rip that away or rip that out from underneath someone, it’s cruel. I think it’s violent. I think it’s a horrific thing to do to somebody,” Belnap told ABC4’s Brittany Johnson.

Belnap says the protests in response to BYU’s clarification is a turning point in school history.

“I think there’s definitely a feeling of activism and I think there’s a feeling of, we’re not going to sit through this,” she said. “I haven’t seen students gathering like this to make their voices heard in a way that that is this meaningful. I’m inspired by that. But I also think we can’t leave them alone in that. They need allies from the outside saying, you know, we’re with you, and you’re right in protesting this.”

Her message to LGBTQ students and faculty is to keep pushing.

“Nobody wants you to live immersed in shame and feeling like you’re worthless, and you can’t reach your potential that way. So, take the next step, even though it’s scary, and find that authenticity and find the place where find the place where you can live that way and find your authentic self and, and reside in that sort of power.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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