PROVO, Utah — A group of around 40 BYU students and supporters of “Color the Campus” climbed Provo’s Y Mountain to light the school’s iconic 380-foot Y in rainbow colors on Thursday night in an act to show their support for LGBTQ+ students on campus.
The organizers said the event wasn’t to protest, but rather to show support and love for those who may feel isolated.
“They want to be seen, recognized and acknowledged,” Tayler Pace with the student-led Color the Campus initiative told KSL TV. “They want to be validated.”
Color the Campus
The event was organized by BYU senior Bradley Talbot as part of Color the Campus’ “Rainbow Day” that comes one year after the private school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints clarified their updates to the school’s Honor Code in a letter released to students.
“This wasn’t a protest. It was mostly just to say we’re here, we belong,” said Provo’s Joshua Warden. “We’re part of this community, this school, this church. We are here. We belong. We wanted to shine a light on that. It’s not just black and white, there is a whole spectrum of colors that we belong to. The Lord made the rainbow, and we’re part of that.”
“We remember what’s happened and we want to overwhelm the world with love today on a particularly difficult day,” Talbot said.
Honor Code updates mark one year
The update to the Honor Code for students that attend Church Educational System schools last March removed language specifically relating to “homosexual behavior,” and updated the language to encompass the church’s stance on chastity.
The Y is BYU property and any form of public expression on university property requires prior approval.
— BYU (@BYU) March 5, 2021
The change led many to wonder if the removal of that language signaled a change to the Church’s stance on same-sex relationships.
“The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code,” Elder Paul V. Johnson, commissioner of the church educational system, said in a statement at the time.
“There is and always has been more to living the Lord’s standard of a chaste and virtuous life than refraining from sexual relations outside of marriage.”
Sexual purity is an essential part of God’s plan for our happiness. Sexual relations are reserved for a man and woman who are married and promise complete loyalty to each other. Sexual relations between a man and woman who are not married, or between people of the same sex, violate one of our Father in Heaven’s most important laws and get in the way of our eternal progress. People of any sexual orientation who violate the law of chastity can be reconciled with God through repentance. As followers of Christ, we resist immoral behavior and strive to become like Him.
“Flashlights don’t meet the elements of vandalism”
While the BYU campus includes the Y Mountain, and the school issued a tweet on Thursday night saying that Color the Campus did not seek prior approval, it appears no one will face charges.
BYU Police Lt. Jeff Long told the Daily Universe they had received three calls about the BYU Y rainbow lights, but said they didn’t respond because, “no crime was committed.”
“Flashlights don’t meet the elements of vandalism,” Long told the school paper.
“The biggest thing I hope people get out of this is this isn’t a divisive type of thing, that you’re either LDS or Christian, gay or queer,” Pace said. “It’s I think we can all live harmoniously. It’s possible.”
We invite the Board of Trustees to meet with LGBTQ+ BYU students to hear their stories, so they understand the effects their actions have on some of most marginalized & victimized students at CES schools.
— Color The Campus (@colorthecampus) March 5, 2021
Rainbow Y caps off day of activities at BYU
The lighting of the Y above the BYU campus in rainbow colors was the conclusion of events on campus connected to Color the Campus.
Earlier in the day, students donned rainbow-colored makeup, clothes and accessories to support the queer community. They gathered in Brigham Square, outside the Wilkinson Student Center, handing out rainbow-themed stickers, masks and other items, but kept the small gathering spread out to observe COVID-19 safety protocols.
Another small group showed up to counter-protest the event, holding umbrellas and wearing BYU gear, according to the BYU Daily Universe.
Campus officials removed flyers apparently advertising the counter-protest earlier in the week. The flyers featured a rainbow-colored “Y” in the middle of the word “raYnbow,” over stick figures holding an umbrella. They read, “Has the raYnbow got you seeking shelter from the storm?” The umbrella bears the phrase “FamProc” in reference to the church’s The Family: A Proclamation to the World issued in 1995.
The university said it took down the flyers because they were not approved.
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