By Bob Allen
Baylor University’s student body president has vetoed a resolution to drop a ban on homosexuality from the university’s code of conduct.
Baylor’s Student Senate voted last week to drop “homosexual acts” from the university’s sexual misconduct code and substitute the phrase “nonmarital consensual deviate sexual intercourse.”
“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,” says the code last updated in 2007.
“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.”
Trenton Garza, the senate member who sponsored the resolution, said the current policy is unfair because it allows sexual expression between heterosexual couples that is prohibited for gays.
Opponents said the proposed change is unclear and unneeded and that publicity over the issue sends a message that the Baptist-affiliated school in Waco, Texas, is anti-gay.
On Thursday the Student Senate came up short of a needed two-thirds vote to override the veto.
Student Body President Wesley Hodges said he exercised his veto because the university’s board of regents likely would not have granted final approval for the change, and because the full student body did not get a chance to weigh in on the topic.
“I understand that human sexuality is a topic that is very important to our student body, and I do not want to limit our conversations on this topic,” Hodges said in comments quoted by the Baylor Lariat. “I deeply respect our students and their respective views. I just want to make sure that whatever is represented in the student government is an accurate representation of the majority of students and seeks to further the mission to protect our students.”
Garza, a senior, said he likely would not pursue a change to the sexual misconduct policy again, but he hopes that it continues to foster discussion and results in more welcoming acceptance of gay students.
“It’s now under the microscope,” he told the Waco Tribune-Herald. “It’s now something that has been discussed here at Baylor and something that can continue going on with discussions even if that’s outside of the senate.”
Controversy over Baylor’s sexual misconduct policy sparked controversy in March when former women’s basketball star Brittney Griner told ESPN that Kim Mulkey, her college head coach, urged players not to be open publicly about their sexuality.
“It was a recruiting thing,” Griner said after graduating and while preparing for her first WNBA season with the Phoenix Mercury. “The coaches thought that if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn’t let their kids come play for Baylor.”
Griner said she initially thought not discussing the open secret of her homosexuality was an unwritten law. “It was just kind of, like, one of those things, you know, just don’t do it,” Griner said. “They kind of tried to make it, like, ‘Why put your business out on the street like that?'”
Later, she said, she learned the policy was written when someone advised her to remove a couple of tweets that might be incriminating.