All BYU campuses to have same rules, so shorts are in at BYU-Idaho and beards are still out

Same-sex “romantic behavior” remains off-limits, and students face a newly prescribed set of questions from their bishops.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Students walk between classes on the BYU campus in Provo in September 2022. There are newly unified rules for all BYU campuses.

Shorts finally will be allowed at Brigham Young University-Idaho just like at its sister school in Provo.

It’s all part of a move to standardize student belief and behavior at the four schools — BYU, BYU-Idaho,, BYU-Hawaii and Ensign College in Salt Lake City — owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For decades, students have had to secure an “ecclesiastical endorsement” signed by their bishop, but those men did not have a prescribed set of questions to ask. Going forward, they will have such a list, according to a news release issued Thursday afternoon.

The new list asks, for instance, whether the student is “striving” to believe and follow the faith’s behavioral expectations of premarital chastity, paying tithing, and avoiding coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs.

It also includes this query: “Do you support or promote any teachings, practices or doctrine contrary to those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

Students might wonder if that means they cannot support same-sex marriage. Surveys have shown most younger Latter-day Saints back such unions.

The list mirrors the questions being asked of prospective faculty that took hold last year in the faith’s Church Educational System.

The new unified Honor Code forbids “same-sex romantic behavior.” The release reiterates that such behavior is “not compatible with the principles included in the CES Honor Code.” At the same time it insists that the schools are “deeply committed to helping all our students, including our LGBTQ students, feel both the love and covenant expectations of the Savior.”

The across-the-board code says women and men should dress modestly. “Dressing in a way that would cover the temple garment is a good guideline,” it states, even for students who do not wear such underclothing. Sleeveless dresses or shirts would not work under this standard.

And beards remain a no-no for men, although some faculty and students have been pushing for that ban to end.

“It’s long past due to have consistent standards across CES. And shorts in Rexburg is a welcome baby step,” said Kristine Anderson, an independent Mormon studies scholar in Rexburg, home to BYU-Idaho. “… I’m disappointed facial hair restrictions weren’t changed at all. I’ve always said I want my husband, who is a BYU-Idaho employee, to apply for a beard card [allowing one] with ‘strengthening my marriage’ listed as the reason.”

And, she said, “as always I would have loved for there to be some LGBTQ rules updated that decreases their fear and anxiety on campus.”

Clark Gilbert, the CES commissioner of education, said the changes are aimed at helping all the campuses achieve their divine directive.

“These changes will help everyone associated with CES further embrace the distinct purpose associated with CES institutions of higher education and to more fully accomplish our mission to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, the church, and their communities,” Gilbert said in the release. “Our goal is that all students and employees feel the love of the Savior, experience the growth from applying gospel principles and more fully realize the joy associated with being part of a covenant-keeping community.”

These standards, which will be fully implemented Aug. 30, do not apply to students in the faith’s seminaries for high schools, Institutes of Religion on other college campuses, or BYU-Pathway Worldwide.