Ridicule Baylor University all you want. Mock the school for its 19th century social mores, for waiting until 1996 lift its dancing ban, for its campus-wide ban on alcohol, for being "guided by the understanding that basing "human sexuality is a gift from the creator God." Go for it. Just keep in mind that the Baylor student body is now officially more progressive than the Texas Legislature.
The Baylor Lariat reports this morning that the student senate passed something called the Sexual Misconduct Code Non-Discrimination Act. It recommends dropping the phrase "homosexual acts" from the relevant portion of the student code of conduct --
Baylor will be guided by the understanding that 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 purposed are to be achieved through heterosexual relationships within marriage. Misuses of God's gift will be understood to include but not limit to, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, incest, adultery, fornication, and homosexual acts.
-- and replacing it with "non-marital consensual deviate sexual intercourse." Hardly a declaration of sexual liberation, but far more progressive than Texas law, which on paper still includes a ban on "homosexual conduct" even though the Supreme Court struck it down a decade ago.
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Thursday's vote doesn't mean Baylor's official policy will change, which is up to the university's board of regents, and it doesn't mean that Baylor students are all down with people being gay. The Lariat includes testimony delivered by several opponents of the bill.
On the against side, Dallas junior Connor Mighell said Baylor is private and is legally entitled to have its own policies on homosexuality.
"Baylor's status as a private religious affiliated university allows it to define its own policies and procedures according to the precepts of Christianity," Mighell said. "It's right to do so is protected by the Constitution of the United States and multiple Supreme Court decisions on the federal and state level. The long-standing interpretation and consensus regarding Christian scripture hold that homosexual acts are a misuse of God's gift of sexuality. Thus, Baylor can and should define its policies in this manner."
San Antonio senior Stephen Bell said Baylor still welcomes all people and upholds the belief that homosexuality is wrong.
"I understand the technical argument that we are not 'technically' excluding homosexuality," said Bell. "But the fact is, Baylor and many students believe that homosexuality is wrong. The conduct code should say that if they are going to have a conduct code at all. The Baylor statement on human sexuality says, in the very first sentence, 'Baylor University welcomes all students into a safe, supportive environment in which to discuss and learn about theoretic issues including those of human sexuality.'
But the vote represents progress, and if progress is possible at Baylor, it's possible anywhere.
(h/t John Wright)