Thursday, September 23, 2010

How would the ordinances affect BYU-approved housing?

In our last meeting, many people wondered exactly how the proposed anti-discrimination housing ordinance would affect BYU on-campus housing and BYU-approved off-campus housing. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publicly supports the ordinances, which makes one assume that there shouldn’t be any intractable conflicts in that regard. Just to be safe, however, I dug into the code and here’s what I came up with:

BYU on-campus housing = completely exempt

BYU-approved off-campus housing = exempt when renting to BYU students and following BYU policy

Interested in the details? Then read on.

First off, there is a broad exception for religious organizations as well as educational institutions that would certainly include anything on BYU campus. The proposed housing ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, would not affect BYU housing in any way.

There is also an exception for landlords who contract with BYU to provide approved off-campus housing. In housing complexes where students and non-students live, the ordinance would apply only to the non-students. Another important point is that off-campus landlords will only be exempt if they follow BYU policies and don’t go beyond the terms of the BYU honor code.

The BYU honor code reads, “One's stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity.”

This means that in BYU-approved off-campus housing students would be protected from eviction under the ordinance based on their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity as long as they follow the standards described in the honor code.

Some have also asked what would happen to landlords who do not contract with BYU, but wish to emulate the BYU-approved rental agreements and rules. The ordinance would fully apply to them. Of more immediate concern, however, is the fact that Utah state fair housing laws already apply, which prohibit discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, source of income, or disability.”

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