When Kasey Johnson and her wife heard about the LDS handbook policy change they were stunned and began looking into whether or not it was a rumor or if the church had legitimately issued it.
“When we found out that it had, the dialogue between us was surrounding the fact that we have three children that live part-time with us and part-time with their father and he is still practicing the LDS faith,” said Johnson.
They were particularly concerned because their son was going to turn 8 on Nov. 8, three days after the policy leak.
“Initially we were really concerned about whether or not he was going to be able to be baptized, and historically we have been very supportive of them remaining in the church and being raised with both concepts,” said Johnson. “Their father’s religion and then our own beliefs.”
Johnson and her wife weren’t sure if they would still support the children’s involvement in the church if this were the new language toward their mom.
On Friday morning Johnson couldn’t get a nagging feeling that this wasn’t right, and the church wouldn’t punish the children for their mom’s lifestyle.
Johnson had previously participated in Writing for Social Change on campus and was originally thinking of writing an essay on her feelings, but decided that instead she wanted to talk to fellow students about how this policy change was impacting her family. She sewed the letter A on the back of a black t-shirt with red fabric and came to school.
Johnson made a sign with poster board and affixed it to a trashcan with tape that read, “A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same gender relationship, whether the couple is married or not (cohabitating) may not receive a name – Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve.
What is named still exists. Our children have just been asked by their church to disavow their mommy’s or … their church will disavow them. The LDS church has gone too far! Sincerely, A concerned lesbian mommy.”
She then stood in the hallway that connects the Bookstore and Pope Science Building and handed out fliers with a red letter A to students as they walked by. Before a student accepted the flier she explained that it stood for apostate and asked the student to read her poster. She said that she received over 100 apologies and 4 hugs.
After standing there for over an hour talking to students she began to pick up some of her fliers that were on the ground. It was then that she noticed a police officer and someone who appeared to be a faculty member approaching her.
“I could tell they were interested in reading it (her sign), so I walked and I stood behind them about 12 feet and I was taking pictures of them reading the poster,” said Johnson.
She said she had lowered her camera and smiled because she thought this was so cool. Then the police officer ripped the sign off of the trashcan, wadded it up and threw it in the trashcan without ever speaking a word to Johnson.
According to Melinda Colton, spokesperson for the UVU Police Department, all signs have to be approved and stamped by Campus Connection.
Colton said the police officer, Kelly Liddiard, had seen the student there earlier and had approached to see if the stamp from Campus Connection was on the sign. When he didn’t see the stamp he removed it.
“This isn’t any different than any other unapproved content,” said Colton.
According to UVU’s temporary signage policy, all temporary signs have to be approved by Campus Connection, and can only be hung at designated bulletin boards and tack strips. Any unapproved signs will be removed and disposed of by Campus Connection.
When Liddiard removed her sign, Johnson said she was dumbfounded and began to worry that she needed some sort of permit to be there.
“Then it struck me as odd that he took the time to read it first, and I wondered had it been any other message would he have looked around or asked anyone, ‘Hey, is this yours?’ He certainly never made eye contact with me,” said Johnson.
Not wanting a confrontation, Johnson left the area, and a minute or so later returned to retrieve her poster from the trashcan. Johnson then left campus because she was so upset.
“I don’t know if the police officer had permission to do what he was doing or if that was part of his job, or if she was allowed to be where she was,” said Aaron Green, a witness to the incident. “But I do know that she (Johnson) was being disruptive and she was purposely being inflammatory. She wasn’t yelling or screaming or anything, it was just what was written on the poster.”
According to Maren Turnidge, the university ombudsman, neither Johnson nor Liddiard were in the wrong.
For rules and procedures to have a temporary sign approved students can go to www.uvu.edu/campusconnection/services/signage.html
If you see any unapproved signs you can contact Campus Connection, or the UVU Police Department by calling (801) 863-5555.