SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Utah Valley University students, rode the Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner train to Salt Lake City on Friday to show support for a BYU-student-led protest. Rallying in the train car exchanging food and markers, posters and pride flags, Wolverines and Cougars shared in comradery and shared love for the LGBT community. The protest was organized in response to Brigham Young University’s miscommunication over whether LGBT students could engage in minimal forms of romantic affection without risking expulsion.
In front of the Office Building of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the BYU students chanted, “Have no fear, God loves queers” and “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re done living in fear.” The crowd erupted in cheers and waves as church employees peered downward from barred balconies. In a move unorthodox for typical protests, the students held a prayer and sang many Latter-day Saint hymns together. These included When I Am Baptized and Have I Done Any Good?
Jorden Jackson, a co-organizer of the protest and a BYU student, explained in an interview on the train why she felt inspired to be a leader for this cause: “Obviously, feelings of hurt, anger, all the emotions that have been felt on campus, but I felt like this was a perfect opportunity for everyone to mobilize, come together, and capitalize on the emotions that we’re all feeling. Although everyone has a unique experience, we have common threads, and we have common goals that we’re fighting for. If we can unite and make our voices heard, then we’re stronger together.”
When asked if she felt that BYU might change toward more acceptance of LGBT-student affection, Jackson optimistically stated that BYU “did change the Honor Code two weeks ago, so they have the capacity, and hopefully can work with CES [Church Educational System] to make sure that LGBTQ students are valued, that they have a legitimate space and that they’re safe.” She also expressed concern that “currently with the institutionalized homophobia, a lot of people are not feeling safe on campus.”
Another protestor, Anna Wright, explained the first of her two concerns, that “anyone who was part of the LGBT+ community had so much hope in their hearts,” and that “many of their professors and even Honor Code officials themselves from the office told them that, yes, this was the way that it was going to go forward.” She continued that these officials “confirmed that they could date openly, they could express themselves.” Wright went on: “I thought that was really neat because, when you go to a university, I expect there to be some diversity on campus.”
Her second concern, Wright continued, is that “within the ward [LDS congregation], we’re told that if you choose to have a same-sex relationship – to hold hands or to kiss – that you can still attend church, you can take the sacrament, you can even go into the temple because of what the First Presidency said…the fact that BYU’s Honor Code doesn’t reflect that deeply concerns me.”
Change.org petition: “ALLOW BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY LGBTQIA STUDENTS SAFETY” https://www.change.org/p/adobe-systems-allow-brigham-young-university-lgbtqia-students-safety?recruiter=1047129456&recruited_by_id=64e2d3c0-5e6b-11ea-ba9a-436d89fdc9cb
Austin Skousen is a supply chain student at Utah Valley University and supply clerk in medical manufacturing who enjoys communication studies, motorcycling, and political analysis.