Brigham Young University LGBT history

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LGBT students have a long, documented history at Brigham Young University,[1][2]:59,60 and have experienced a range of treatment by other students and school administrators over the decades. Brigham Young University (BYU) is the largest religious university in North America and is the flagship institution of the educational system of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Historically, experiences for LGBT BYU students have included being banned from enrolling due to their romantic attractions in the 60s.[2]:379 Nearly 80% of BYU students refusing to live with a gay person in a poll in the 90s,[3] and a ban on coming out into the 2000s.[4][5] In the contemporary environment there is a continued lack of LGBT-specific resources on campus as of 2018,[6][7] and LGBT BYU students are currently at risk of expulsion for hugs or same-sex dating[8][9][10] and are banned from meeting together in a queer-straight alliance group on campus.[11][12][13]

Several LGBT rights organizations have criticized BYU's policies around queer students[14] and The Princeton Review has regularly ranked BYU as one of the most LGBT-unfriendly schools in the United States.[15][16][17] Although BYU policies specific to gay students have existed since the 50s, the first explicit mention of homosexuality in the language of the school's code of conduct was not publicly published until the Fall of 2009,[18][19] and the first LGBT-specific campus-wide event was held in April 2017.[20] Despite this historical and current environment, LGBT individuals have continued to enroll in and attend BYU with many participating in unofficial LGBT BYU communities.

Ban on gay students[edit]

BYU policies, including the complete ban on students attracted to the same sex in the 60s, are decided by the Board of Trustees, composed of general authorities.[21][22]

Before 1959 there was little explicit mention of homosexuality by BYU administration,[2]:375,377,394 but by 1962 a ban on homosexual students was enacted, though not mentioned in the media or in literature provided to students. On 12 September 1962, apostles Spencer Kimball and Mark Peterson and BYU President Ernest Wilkinson agreed on a university policy that "no one will be admitted as a student ... whom we have convincing evidence is a homosexual."[2]:379 They agreed to share information about individuals cases of homosexual members between general church administration and BYU administration.[23] This policy was reiterated in Wilkinson's address to BYU in September 1965 when he stated "we [do not] intend to admit to this campus any homosexuals. ... [I]f any of you have this tendency, ... may I suggest you leave the University immediately .... We do not want others on this campus to be contaminated by your presence."[24][25] The next month general authorities again stated that the "University does not permit any known homosexual to enter or remain at BYU", though they decided "for the purposes of admission or retention at BYU" that masturbation (or "self abuse") was "not considered homosexuality."[26] This decision forbidding the enrollment of homosexuals at BYU was again repeated in meetings on 27 January 1966 and 25 January 1968 and was codified in the 1967 version of the Honor code. The approved version read "homosexuality will not be tolerated", while the proposed sentence banning "masturbation" was removed in committee.[27]

The complete ban on any students with a homosexual orientation was softened a decade later by Wilkinson's successor, Dallin H. Oaks, in a 19 April 1973 Board of Trustees meeting. There it was decided BYU would allow students who had "repented of" homosexual acts and "forsaken" them for a "lengthy period of time." Additionally, students "guilty of irregular sexual behavior" (not including fornication or adultery equivalents) who were "repentant" and "showed evidence" that the act(s) would "not be repeated" would be admitted while "overt and active homosexuals" would still be barred from remaining and enrollment.[28][29][30]

Surveillance[edit]

BYU bans extramarital sexual activity for straight students and further forbids any same-sex dating or physical expression of attraction including hugs for LGBT students.[9][31][32]

Under Oaks, a system of surveillance and searches of dorms of problem students, including suspected homosexuals, was implemented.[33] This included electronic recording devices which BYU Security Chief Robert Kelshaw confirmed in 1975 had been planted on students to gather information. In reference to the widespread campaign to find homosexuals among BYU students, Oaks stated, "Two influences we wish to exclude from the BYU community are active homosexuals and drug users, and these subjects are therefore among those with which our security force is concerned."[34] In 1979 Oaks asked BYU security to be "especially watchful" for any student homosexual infractions.[35]:126[36] Stake outs by BYU security looking for license plates of BYU students at gay bars in Salt Lake City[37][38] and fake contact advertisements were placed in a gay Salt Lake City newspaper to ensnare gay students[39][37] resulting in the arrest of former BYU student David Chipman[35]:126[40][41]

Values Institute[edit]

In September 1976 top church leaders on the BYU Board of Trustees approved then BYU president Dallin Oaks' Institute for Studies in Values and Human Behavior dedicated most heavily to research for evidence supporting church views on homosexuality.[35]:83–84[42]:73–74 The primary assignment was writing a church-funded book on homosexuality to be published by a non-church source (in order to boost the book's scientific credibility).[43]:156[44][45] BYU psychologist Allen Bergin acted as the director,[46][47] and book author. Institute member and church Social Services director Victor Brown Jr.[48] wrote, "Our basic theme is that truth lies with the scriptures and prophets, not with secular data or debate."[49] Several dissertations were produced by the Values Institute[29][50] before it closed in 1985.[51]

Payne Papers[edit]

In 1977, gay BYU student Cloy Jenkins and gay BYU instructor Lee Williams[52] coauthored an open letter to refute the anti-gay teachings of BYU professor Reed Payne. The anonymous letter was later published with the help of Lee's gay brother Jeff and Ricks College faculty member Howard Salisbury as the "Payne Papers" pamphlet (later titled "Prologue").[53] This was anonymously mailed to all high-ranking LDS leaders and most BYU and Ricks College faculty causing a controversy.[54] This elicited a response from apostle Boyd Packer in the form of his "To the One" 1978 BYU address on homosexuality[55][43]:157–159[56] and an article from the recently formed BYU Values Institute.[57]

Policies and punishments in the 1990s and early 2000s[edit]

A gay pride parody of the "Y" logo

In the late 1990s a reference to "homosexual conduct" was added to the BYU Honor Code.[58] In 1997 Honor Code Office director Rush Sumpter stated that BYU forbids actions of verifiable, overt displays of gay affection, but does not punish attractions. One student stated she tried to pray her feelings away, and another said her parents sent her to BYU to straighten out her homosexual feelings.[59]

In 2000 a reported 13 students were suspended from the University when caught watching the TV series Queer As Folk. The next year two gay students (Matthew Grierson and Ricky Escoto) were expelled under accusations deemed "more probable than not" of hand-holding or kissing.[60] The Associate Dean of Students Lane Fischer over the BYU Honor Code Office stated in a letter to those two students that it was "inappropriate" for a BYU student to "advocate for the [homosexual] lifestyle" by publishing material or participating in public demonstrations as well as advertising ones "same-sex preference in any public way" reinforcing the existing honor code ban on coming out for lesbian, gay, or bisexual students.[5][4] He also required homosexual students facing discipline to refrain from same-sex "dating, holding hands, kissing, romantic touching, showering, clubbing, ets., as well as regular association with homosexual men."[61]

Current policies[edit]

A gay superhero parody of BYU's Brigham Young statue

In 2007, BYU changed the honor code to read that stating one's sexual orientation was not an honor code issue while removing the phrase that "any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code." The change also clarified the policy on advocacy of LGBTQ rights or romantic relationships.[62][63][64] Several students, including gay and lesbian students, thought that the previous wording was confusing and unclear. While both homosexuals and heterosexuals must abide by the church's law of chastity (i.e. no sexual relations outside of marriage, no crude language, and no pornography),[65] the Honor Code additionally prohibits all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings (i.e. dating, kissing). There is no similar restriction against expressing heterosexual feelings.[66] The policy on homosexuality was not noted in an online version of the honor code available to students until the Fall of 2009.[67][68] Both this version and the 2010 versions contained a clause banning homosexual advocacy defined as "seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable."[69][70] In early 2011, BYU quietly removed the clause prohibiting advocacy.[71][72][64]

Policies around gender expression[edit]

As for gender diverse students, policies remain unclear, and as of 2017 a BYU spokesperson has only stated that "transgender students are handled on a case-by-case basis." One openly transgender student has tried discussing policies with the Honor Code office, but they've ignored his emails. No publicly available BYU policy seems to be in place for students transitioning with hormone therapy, or for an assigned-male-at-birth student expressing their internal gender identity as a woman through clothing, makeup, or long hair.[73] However, faculty are instructed as of December 2017 that a female with a shaved head, or a male with long nails, brightly dyed hair, or makeup would be violating the Honor Code and should be reported to the Honor Code Office.[74]

BYU LGBTQ student group[edit]

LGBT BYU students at a USGA meeting in 2017

In 2010, a group called USGA (Understanding Same-Gender Attraction), consisting of BYU students and other members of the Provo community, began meeting on campus to discuss issues relating to homosexuality and the LDS Church.[75] However, by December 2012, USGA was told it could no longer hold meetings on BYU's campus[76] and BYU continues to ban USGA from meeting on campus as of 2018.[6][11] BYU campus currently offers no official LGBT-specific resources.[7][6]

Research at BYU around LGBT topics[edit]

Research has shown a consistent presence of LGBT students attending BYU.

In 1950, 1961, and 1972 BYU Sociology professor Wilford E. Smith conducted a survey of thousands of Mormon students at several universities including many from the BYU sociology department as part of a larger survey.[77] His data spanning over 20 years found that 10% of BYU men and 2% of BYU women indicated having had a "homosexual experience." He also found that "the response of Mormons [at BYU] did not differ significantly from the response of Mormons in state universities."[1]

An informal poll of students in 1991 by an independent BYU newspaper found that 5% of students identified their sexual orientation as gay (similar to the 4% estimate by a BYU counselor in 1979),[78][79] and 22% of all students knew of a BYU student who was gay or lesbian.[80][2]:59,60

In 1997 a poll of over 400 BYU students found that 42% of students believed that even if a same-sex attracted person keeps the honor code they should not be allowed to attend BYU and nearly 80% said they would not live with a roommate attracted to people of the same sex.[3][78]

In 2003 BYU's newspaper cited two LDS therapists who stated that "somewhere around 4 to 5 percent" are homosexual.[81]

A BYU Spring 2017 survey having been completed by 42% of students found that .2% of the 12,602 who completed the survey (or 25 responders) reported their gender identity being transgender or something other than cisgender male or female.[82]

Aversion therapy at BYU[edit]

From 1971 to 1980 BYU's president Dallin Oaks[35]:32 had Gerald J. Dye over the University Standards Office[83] (renamed the Honor Code Office in 1991). Dye stated that during that decade part of the "set process" for homosexual BYU students referred to his office for "less serious" offenses was to require that they undergo some form of therapy to remain at BYU.

Conversion therapy at BYU[edit]

Church leaders taught for decades that members could and should try to "turn off" gay attractions through means including conversion therapy.[84] A 2011 Broadway play satirized these teachings with a gay Mormon character stating that he could "turn it off like a light switch" in reference to his gay feelings.[85][86]

In 2016, the church's official website declared that conversion therapy or sexual orientation change efforts are "unethical."[87] Prior to this change in stance BYU ecclesiastical leaders and Honor Code office administrators have encouraged or required students with homosexual feelings to undergo conversion therapy (also known as sexual orientation change efforts), sometimes under threat of expulsion. This therapy focused on diminishing same-sex romantic attraction sometimes happened on campus by church-employed therapists.

For example, National Geographic journalist Andrew Evans[88] has discussed the compulsory year of conversion therapy and "traumatic moments" BYU made him undergo in the late 90s as a student after he was caught kissing a man by his roommate. BYU told him he could be expelled or visit weekly with his bishop, turn in fellow gay students, cut off contact with any gay friends, and have frequent visits with a BYU therapist until he was heterosexual and "safe" for other students to be around. Included in the therapy was weekly dates with women to help reform him.[89]

Similarly, LGBT activist Michael Ferguson also discussed the many years and different modalities of expensive conversion therapy he underwent (including with a BYU psychologist) starting with a 2004 recommendation from his BYU bishop. He was told by local church leaders that many had "overcome" and diminished their same-sex romantic feelings and their "addiction" to those of the same sex. Ferguson believed that through this he could follow church teachings and marry a woman and enter the highest degree of glory in the afterlife. Much of the therapy focused on repairing emotional damage from things deemed to cause homosexuality like an overbearing mother, distant father, and rejection from same-sex peers.[90]

Timeline of BYU LGBT History[edit]

A timeline of events, publications, people, and speeches at the intersection of LGBT topics and BYU. Before 1959 there was little explicit mention of homosexuality by BYU administration.[2]:375,377,394

1940s[edit]

  • 1948 – Gay BYU students Kent Goodridge Taylor and Richard Snow[91] who were in love went to visit with church president George Smith who told them to "live their lives as best they could" in their companionship. Smith wrote the words "Homo Sexual" in his appointment book.[2]:434 Earl Kofoed who went from BYU from 1946 to 1948 similarly reported a "live and let live" attitude of leaders towards LGBT Mormons, and described a thriving gay community of friends at BYU. He stated that there were no witch hunts, excommunications, or pressure to change ones sexual orientation at BYU like there would be in later decades.[91]

1960s[edit]

Under BYU president Ernest Wilkinson, any non-straight students were banned from attending the university.
  • 1962 – The apostles Spencer Kimball and Mark Peterson told BYU president Ernest Wilkinson that no student will be admitted to BYU who is suspected of experiencing homosexual feelings.[2]:379
  • 1962 – BYU president Ernest Wilkinson stated in a speech to the student body that people with homosexual feelings will not be allowed to enroll or remain as students since they contaminate the campus.[24]
  • 1964 – Then apostle Kimball addressed seminary and institute faculty in a July 10 speech on BYU campus titled "A Counselling Problem in the Church", in which he called homosexuality a "malady", "disease", and an "abominable and detestable crime against nature" that was "curable" by "self mastery."[92] He cited one lay bishop (a businessman by trade) assigned by the church to administer a "program of rehabilitation" through which there had been "numerous cures." He said "the police, the courts, and the judges" had referred "many cases directly" to the church.[93][94]:91
  • 1965 – Kimball again addressed homosexuality in his January 5 BYU speech "Love vs. Lust." He called it a "gross", "heinous", "obnoxious", "abominable" "vicious" sin. The text states that those with homosexual "desires and tendencies" could "correct" and "overcome" it "the same as if he had the urge toward petting or fornication or adultery", but that "the cure ... is like the cure for alcoholism, subject to continued vigilance." In the speech he stated BYU "will never knowingly enroll ... nor tolerate ... anyone with these tendencies who fails to repent", and that it is a "damnable heresy" for a homosexual person to say "God made them that way." He also states that sometimes masturbation is an introduction to homosexuality.[95][43]:149
  • 1965 – Five suicides of gay male BYU students are reported in one year.[43]:156[96]
  • 1967 – After a policy change allowing BYU bishops to share confidential information gained from the students during interviews with BYU administration took place, a dramatic rise in students suspected of homosexual activity was reported totaling 72 recorded by BYU administration by the end of August 1968. Security files were kept by BYU on students suspected of being gay and students were encouraged to spy on other students.[43]:154
  • 1969 – BYU alumnus and Mormon painter Trevor Southey joined BYU's faculty teaching art until he was fired in 1979.[97][98] He had attended the university as a student from 1965–1969 and later divorced his wife and came out as gay in 1982.[99][100] He passed away in 2015 at the age of 75.[101]

1970s[edit]

  • 1971Jim Dabakis enrolled at BYU after serving an LDS mission, but left and came out at as gay at the age of 23.[102] He was elected to the Utah State Senate in 2012.[103][104]
  • 1971 – Kenneth Mark Storer was a gay Mormon BYU graduate student.[105] He would later become a pastor in the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church in Salt Lake, Boise,[106] and Tacoma, and a leader in an AIDS-victim advocacy group in the 80s.[107]
  • 1973 – It was decided by the BYU Board of Trustees that the ban on people attracted to those of the same sex would be lifted and they could enroll at BYU with local church leadership permission as long as they were not sexually expressing their attractions.[29][43]:155
  • 1973 – BYU psychology professor Allen Bergin published an article in the July Ensign portraying some homosexuals as "psychologically disturbed persons" who are "compulsively driven to frequent and sometimes bizarre acts." He cited two clients with "compulsive or uncontrollable homosexuality" caused by intense fear for the opposite sex, a lack of social skills for normal male-female relationships, and seeking security exclusively from the same sex. Bergin discussed the behaviorist sexual orientation change efforts he used to treat these individuals.[108]
BYU president Oaks instituted a system of surveillance to identify and expel or attempt to "cure" homosexual students in the '70s.
  • 1974 – BYU president Oaks delivered a speech on campus in which he spoke in favor of keeping criminal punishment for "deviate sexual behavior" such as private, consensual, same-sex sexual activity. The speech was later printed by the university's press.[109][110][111]
  • 1975 – As part of the ongoing BYU security homosexual entrapment campaigns, BYU security claimed that an agency director for the US Department of Social Services man was caught soliciting sex by tapping his feet in a bathroom stall next to an undercover officer while visiting the campus, but the man denied the charges and called the security sting harassment. BYU banned the man from campus after he refused to meet with campus officials.[112]
  • 1976 – The church-operated university BYU began a purge in January to expel homosexual students under the direction of president Oaks.[35]:126 The purge including interrogations of fine arts and drama students and surveillance of Salt Lake City gay bars by BYU security. These activities were noted in the Salt Lake Tribune[34] and the gay newspaper Advocate.[2]:442
  • 1976 – BYU music professor Carlyle Marsden completed suicide[113] two days after being outed by an arrest for alleged homosexual activity.[114][115][116]
  • 1976 – A 20-year study by a BYU Sociology professor is published showing that 10% of BYU men and 2% of BYU women indicated having had a "homosexual experience."[2]:442–443 In 1950, 1961, and 1972 Wilford E. Smith conducted a survey of thousands of Mormon students at several universities including many from the BYU sociology department as part of a larger survey.[77] He found that "the response of Mormons [at BYU] did not differ significantly from the response of Mormons in state universities."[1]
  • 1977 – After hearing anti-gay rhetoric from BYU professor Reed Payne, BYU student Cloy Jenkins and gay BYU instructor Lee Williams produced the Payne Papers (later called Prologue) outlining information and experiences in defense of homosexual Mormons. It was later anonymously mailed to all high-ranking church leaders.[43]:157–159
  • 1977 Stephan Zakharias (formerly Stephen James Matthew Prince) and a group of other lesbian and gay Mormons and former-Mormons organized the first official LGBTQ Mormon group under the name Affirmation: Gay Mormons United on June 11[117] in Salt Lake City at the conference for the Salt Lake Coalition for Human Rights.[118][119][120]
Pamphlet cover to a reprint of Packer's BYU speech on homosexuality.
  • 1978 – The apostle Boyd Packer delivered a sermon at BYU on March 5 entitled "To the One", which went on to be published by the church as a pamphlet.[121] Packer characterizes homosexual interaction as a perversion and presents the possibility that it had its roots in selfishness and could be cured with "unselfish thoughts, with unselfish acts."[122]:6 He states that the church had not previously talked more about homosexuality because "some matters are best handled very privately"[122]:3 and "we can very foolishly cause things we are trying to prevent by talking too much about them."[122]:19
Three text advertisements placed by BYU security in a gay Salt Lake City monthly newspaper in order to entrap gay students.
  • 1978 – In November BYU Security began placing entrapment ads in a monthly Salt Lake City LGBT newspaper to ensnare BYU students.[37] This resulted in the 1979 arrest of David Chipman, a former BYU student, who made a romantic advance after being taken on a drive by undercover BYU security agent David Neumann posing as a gay BYU student.[123][39][124] Chipman's controversial conviction due to the security officers making an arrest outside there jurisdiction for an entrapment case went to the Utah State Supreme Court.[35]:126[125]
  • 1979 – Under the guidance of BYU president Dallin Oaks, BYU security began campaigns to entrap any students participating in same-sex sexual behavior and purge them from the university.[35]:126
  • 1979 – Church Seventy Vaughn Featherstone stated that "the homosexual cannot be exalted" since "perversion is perversion", and that condoning homosexuality "is not an act of charity" in a February address to BYU.[126]
  • 1979 – BYU's newspaper published a series of articles in April quoting BYU and church leaders[127] and gay students on homosexuality. The series included comments by Maxine Murdock of the BYU Counseling Center and Ford McBride, a former psychology student who, as part of one time doctoral thesis related study, conducted BYU electroshock aversion experiments on gay 14 BYU students. (Participation in the study was voluntary and included informed consent which acknowledged that the study was "not endorsed by BYU.")[128] McBride and Murdock estimated that 4% of BYU students (or around 1,200 students) are homosexual.[129][79] Additionally, commissioner of LDS Social Services Harold Brown stated that homosexuality is not biological or inborn,[130] and that church leaders just want to help them overcome their problem,[131] and Victor Brown Jr. compared it to an alcoholic's addiction that can be cured.[130]
A BYU sign at the 1979 Los Angeles Pride parade.
  • 1979 – A BYU alumni sign among others was held aloft by the Affirmation group at the Los Angeles Pride Parade in what was called the first out gay Mormon presence at a pride parade.[132]:48[133] One of the participants was interviewed on camera wearing a BYU jersey.[134]

1980s[edit]

  • 1982 – In an address to BYU on August 28, then president of Ricks College Bruce Hafen counseled students to avoid homosexuality "at all costs, no matter what the circumstances." He further cited the 1973 removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder from the DSM as an example of something gone wrong "deep within our national soul."[135]
  • 1986 – BYU published a study by BYU professor and area Church Welfare Services director Victor Brown Jr.[136] stating that people can eliminate homosexual feelings.[137][138]
  • 1986 – Church Seventy Theodore Burton implied a link between a "selfish indulgence" in pornography and homosexuality in his address to BYU on June 3.[139]
  • 1986 – An article was published referencing a gay BYU student who had been preparing for an opposite-sex temple marriage in the 80s under counsel from BYU professor and stake president Richard Cracroft. A few months into the marriage the man shot himself, and Cracroft stated that "Admittedly, not many of us know how to counsel homosexuals."[140]
  • 1988 – BYU psychologist Allen Bergin was published in the October Ensign stating that homosexuality was "caused by some combination of biology and environment."[141]
  • 1988 – Gay BYU history professor and former BYU student[142] Michael Quinn resigned under increasing pressure for publications on controversial aspects of Mormon history[143][144] after working for the university since 1976.[145][146] He came out as gay in 1996 when his book Same-Sex Dynamics Among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example was released.[147]

1990s[edit]

  • 1990s – Transgender woman Cammie Vanderveur a BYU engineering student gender expressed wearing a dress on campus only at night to avoid punishment.[73]
  • 1990 – The independent BYU newspaper Student Review began publishing articles on the topic of homosexuality, dedicating an entire issue to the discussion, and frequently addressing the topic over the next four years.[148]
  • 1991 – An informal poll of students by an independent BYU newspaper found that 5% of current students identified their sexual orientation as gay and 22% of all students knew of a BYU student who was gay or lesbian.[80][2]:59,60
  • 1992 – The apostle Packer stated in a sermon at BYU sermon that humans can degrade themselves below animals by pairing with people of the same-sex since animals don't mate with other animals of the same sex.[149][150] However, same-sex pairing has been observed in more than 1,500 species, and well-documented for 500 of them.[151][152]
  • 1994 – Then apostle James Faust gave a November speech on campus in which he stated that homosexuality is not biological or inborn and that same-sex marriage would unravel families, the fabric of human society.[153]
  • 1996 – BYU Spanish professor Thomas Matthews was reported to a top LDS authority in July for previously stating that he was gay in private conversations. He stated that BYU did not like that he was out of the closet despite being celibate and keeping BYU codes of conduct, and eventually left the university. BYU president Lee had stated that it was "simply not comfortable for the university" for him to continue teaching there.[154][155][156]:162–163[157]
  • 1996 – A campus group for gay students and friends "Open Forum" was founded, and with faculty advisor Paul Thomas they sought but were denied official club status from BYU administrators.[156]:162–163
  • 1997 – A poll of over 400 BYU students found that 42% of students believed that even if a same-sex attracted person keeps the honor code they should not be allowed to attend BYU and nearly 80% said they would not live with a roommate attracted to people of the same sex. The poll's stated 5 percent margin of error was criticized as being too low an estimate because of the cluster sampling in classes, however.[158][156]:162
  • 1997 – The university newspaper published an article featuring several openly gay students. One lesbian student told her roommates and one moved out because of it. A housing manager said that some students panic when they find out their roommate is attracted to some people of the same sex and he advised them to go to the Honor Code Office. The Honor Code Office director Rush Sumpter stated that BYU forbids actions of verifiable, overt displays of gay affection, but does not punish attractions. One student stated she tried to pray her feelings away, and another said her parents sent her to BYU to straighten out her homosexual feelings.[59]
  • 1998 – Out gay student Sam Clayton graduated from BYU after activism in helping organize the LGBT student group "Open Forum" and conducting sociological surveys on LGBT topics at BYU.[159]:162[160] He reported threats of expulsion from BYU administrators.[161]

2000s[edit]

  • 2000 – On 25 February Stuart Matis, a former BYU student and a gay Mormon active in the church, completed suicide on the steps of a California church stake center building.[162][163] Four days before his death he wrote a letter that was published in the BYU newspaper[164][165] pleading for the acceptance of homosexual individuals in response to a letter published by BYU five days before[166] which compared homosexuality to pedophilia, bestiality and Satanism.[167] Right before his death he wrote a note stating, "God never intended me to be straight. Hopefully, my death might be a catalyst for some good."[168][169]
  • 2000 – BYU psychology professor Richard Williams presented a criticism of same-sex parenting at BYU's 2000 World Family Policy Forum.[170]
  • 2001 – At BYU's Family Under Fire Conference, LDS Family Services director[171] Jerry Harris gave some "steps to recovery" from homosexuality for gay people to use.[172]
  • 2003 – After facing criticism from several organizations KBYU and BYU-TV cancelled the planned broadcast of LDS therapists Jeff Robinson's presentation "Homosexuality: What Works and What Doesn't Work" given at BYU's 2002 Families Under Fire conference.[173][174][175] The talk characterized homosexuality as a serious addiction that could be cured with enough motivation, and stated that gay men can develop a sexual attraction to women if they walk away from rather than focus or fight the dragon of their gayness.[176][177]
  • 2003 – Former BYU student Clay Essig reported writing a note while at the brink of suicide after years of trying to change his attractions through therapy originally prescribed to him by his BYU bishop.[178]
  • 2003 – For his senior project a BYU student created a documentary Troy Through a Window about his gay brother and how his Mormon family dealt with his coming out.[179][180]
  • 2003 – LDS Family Services counselor Jerry Harris presented at BYU's Families Under Fire conference on helping people overcome their homosexuality.[181]
  • 2004 – In March BYU molecular biology professor William Bradshaw received media attention for presenting evidence for biological underpinnings to human homosexuality.[182]
  • 2005 – The Foundation for Attraction Research (FAR) is founded[183] and run by mostly BYU professors including BYU psychology professor Dean Byrd, BYU social work professor Shirley Cox,[184] with a board of directors also consisting of BYU English professor Doris Dant,[185] BYU law professor William Duncan,[186] BYU religion professor John Livinstone,[187] and retired BYU psychology professor Gawain Wells.[187] In 2009 the organization published Understanding Same-Sex Attraction[188] which advocated therapy to change sexual attractions.[189] In 2012 FAR co-hosted the Reconciling Faith and Feelings conference with the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists (AMCAP).[190]
  • 2005 – At BYU's Families Under Fire Conference social work professor[191] Shirley Cox presented on homosexuality stating that homosexual attractions can be diminished and that the treatment of unwanted same-sex attraction has a history of being successful.[192]
  • 2006Soulforce's Equality Ride made a stop at BYU campus in April protesting BYU's policies towards LGBTQ students.[193] 5 riders were arrested on the 10th for giving speeches on campus, while other riders were allowed to remain answering student questions as long as they did not make a demonstration.[194] The next day 5 current[195][196] and 4 former BYU students and 15 riders were arrested for involvement in a procession of about 30 individuals bringing lilies onto campus and lying down in a 'die-in' in remembrance of LGBT Mormon suicide victims.[197][198] Those arrested later received a $200 fine.[199]
  • 2006 – In June BYU fired adjunct professor Jeffrey Nielsen for writing an opinion piece[200] in support of same-sex marriage.[201][202][203]
  • 2007Soulforce's Equality Ride made a second stop at BYU's campus on March 22. The demonstration resulted in two arrests when a mother and her transgender son[204] walked onto campus to present administrators with a collection of concerns from former and current BYU LGBTQ students.[205][206]
  • 2007 – BYU Law professor Lynn Wardle addressed the 4th World Congress of Families in Poland on same-sex marriage and published his speech in a law journal. He compared his warnings "tragic consequences" and "dangers of legalizing same-sex marriage" as the warnings of a Hungarian man warning Elie Wiesel's town about the dangers the incoming Nazis posed to the Jewish population there. He also stated that if same-sex marriages were legalized there would be no basis to deny polygamous or incestuous marriages, and a decreased ability to "protect their children from exposure to gay propaganda."[207][208]
  • 2007 – Shortly after the Soul Force demonstration,[209] the BYU Board of Trustees, under the direction of First Presidency member Thomas Monson, revised the BYU Honor Code in April to clarify that "one's stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue" while continuing to ban "all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings."[210][211][164]
  • 2009 – The first explicit mention of homosexuality in the language of the school's code of conduct available to students was publicly published in the Fall.[212][213]

2010s[edit]

2010[edit]

  • 2010 – Shortly after a policy change removing the ban on LGBT BYU students gathering together in a group,[214] LGBT and straight students began weekly meetings on BYU campus as USGA to discuss issues relating to homosexuality and the LDS Church.[215][164]

2011[edit]

  • January – A BYU law student stated that he was threatened with expulsion for publishing the book Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student’s Perspective[216][217][218] which contained arguments in favor of same-sex marriage.[219][220][221]
  • February – BYU's Honor Code was updated to remove the ban on any "advocacy of homosexual behavior" defined as "promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable."[164][64]
  • November – BYU fired a gay broadcasting department faculty member. The employee stated that BYU had become an increasingly hostile work environment[222] and that being gay played into his being fired.[76]

2012[edit]

  • March – LGBT BYU students received national attention for their "It Gets Better" video.[223][224]
  • April – A Sociology Department panel of LGBT BYU students received press coverage as well as complaints to the university from a conservative political group.[225][226]
  • December – By the end of the year USGA was banned from meeting on campus and continues to be banned as of 2018.[11][6] USGA moved its meetings to the Provo City Library.[227][76]

2013[edit]

  • February – Gay BYU student Jimmy Hales gained media attention with a comedic video of coming out live to family and friends.[228][229][230][76]
  • May – Ty Mansfield, an openly gay Mormon, taught two religion classes in the summer of 2013 at BYU as an adjunct faculty member.[231]

2014[edit]

  • January – In a BYU devotional, BYU professor Jonathan Sandberg mentions the church's website mormonsandgays.org and encourages people who are experiencing challenges like the "struggle" of "same-gender attraction" to keep faith and trust God.[232][233]
  • April – A BYU survey to students gained media attention for only giving the option of "heterosexual but struggles with same-sex attraction" or "heterosexual and does not struggle with same-sex attraction" for identifying ones sexual orientation.[234]
  • August – The BYU Bookstore briefly sold greeting cards for congratulating recently married same-sex couples. The cards were quickly pulled making international news.[235][236]
  • October – BYU student Curtis Penfold who had been at the university for over two years was kicked out of his apartment, fired from his job, and expulsed from BYU after disagreeing with LDS teachings on LGBT rights.[237][238] He stated that he, "felt so hated by this community I used to love."[239]
  • October – A film student Scott Raia's documentary about queer BYU students Bridey Jensen and Samy Galvez was shown on campus.[240][241][242]

2015[edit]

  • January – A gay BYU student and Church Missionary Training Center employee was physically assaulted by his roommates after he told one of them that he was gay. The man experienced bruised ribs after allegedly being dragged from his room amid gay slurs. The situation resulted in a lawsuit.[243]
  • September – In a BYU Devotional address Ronald Rasband, then in the Presidency of the Seventy addressed concerns about the church's involvement in politics. He shared hypothetical stories of a man fired for being gay and a woman marginalized at work for being Mormon and bemoaned that it is less politically correct to empathize with the religious woman. He invited students to discuss LGBT rights and religious freedom and to write comments on his Facebook post.[244][245][227] The address was later reprinted in a church magazine.[246]
  • 2015 – In a survey of 92 LGBTQ BYU students done by USGA, 52% had at some point considered self-harm.[164]

2016[edit]

  • January – The advocacy organization FreeBYU filed an accreditation complaint to the American Bar Association against the BYU law school. The complaint argued that the honor code's prohibition of dating, romantic expression, and marriage between same-sex partners, but not their heterosexual counterparts, violated the accrediting body's anti-discrimination policies.[247][248][249] The American Bar Association acknowledged the complaint and forwarded it to committee for consideration, then rejected the complaint after BYU made changes to its Honor Code.[250]
  • February – BYU student Harry Fisher came out on Facebook in 2015. About two months later after experiences of hearing anti-gay rhetoric from individuals around him, and after instances of having to leave his BYU singles ward meeting to cry in his car, he completed suicide on 12 February 2016.[251]
  • August – BYU and Church policies on LGBT persons got the spotlight as these served as a deterrent in their football team being considered as a Fall addition to the Big 12 Conference.[252][253][254][255][256][257][258]
Protesters deliver 60,000 petition signatures to BYU's administration in response to reports of administrators mistreating rape and assault survivors, including LGBT student survivors.[11][259][260]
  • August – During the BYU Title IX controversy around the university's policies and treatment of student survivors of sexual assault, the Salt Lake Tribune published an article containing firsthand accounts of several current and former LGBTQ BYU students who were sexually assaulted or raped as students and their subsequent experiences with administrators.[11]
  • October – BYU student Jessyca Fulmer was featured on the LDS church's website Mormon and Gay.[261][262]
  • November – The Provo newspaper Daily Herald published a series of six in-depth articles on the experiences of BYU LGBT students, centered around the topics of why they attend,[263] USGA,[264] mental health,[265] the Honor Code,[266] and why some leave.[267] The articles were written over the space of two months, with an editorial conclusion at the end of the series asking administrators to listen to LGBT BYU students.[268]
BYU's first official campus LGBTQ-specific event in April 2017.

2017[edit]

  • April – The first LGBT-specific campus-wide event was held on the 7th by the BYU NAMI club.[20]
  • September – BYU students and a professor are featured prominently in an article on the Provo LGBT Pride Festival.[269]
  • September – BYU's first LGBTQ alumni group "Rise and Shout" holds its first gathering.[270][271]
  • October – A lesbian BYU student gained media attention for her coming out images and quotes on Faces of USGA.[272][273]
  • October – A Provo newspaper published an article on transgender current and former BYU students.[73]
  • November – In response to a question about LGBT young single adults in the church the apostle Ballard told BYU students in a campus-wide event that, "I believe you have a place in the kingdom and recognize that sometimes it may be difficult for you to see where you fit in the Lord’s Church, but you do." He also told cisgender, heterosexual members, "We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing. Certainly, we must do better than we have done in the past so that all members feel they have a spiritual home." He further explained that church leaders believe "core rights of citizenship should be protected for all people — for LGBT people, for people of all faiths,” and that "reasonable compromises" should be found "in other areas when rights conflict." He stated that church leaders supported the recent LoveLoud Festival to send a message that "LGBT youth or anyone else should never be mistreated."[274][275][276]
  • November – A BYU survey was released having been completed by 43% of students in which .2% of the 12,602 who completed the survey (or 25 responders) reported that their gender identity was transgender or something other than cisgender male or female.[82]

2018[edit]

  • March – BYU Student Life hosted the first university-hosted LGBT campus event.[277][6] It featured a panel of four students answering student-submitted questions.[278][279][280]
  • April – After a controversy over BYU's policies around LGBT people, a conference for the US Society for Political Methodology was moved off of campus citing a "long-strained relations between the LGBTQ community and BYU"[281] and concerns over the university's ban on homosexual behavior which the Society repudiated along with "the intolerance it represents."[282][283][284]
  • July – Church leaders' continued denial of BYU LGBT students' years of requests to form a club on campus received national coverage.[12][13]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Quinn, D. Michael (1996). Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0252022050.
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  6. ^ a b c d e Kerr, Emma (22 May 2018). "Inside Gay Students' Fight to Be Heard at BYU". The Chronicle of Higher Education. There are no institutional means of supporting students or educating professors on LGBTQ issues. ... USGA, is forced to meet in a local library because the university does not support or sanction its existence. Students in the group say they’ve been told it will never be allowed on campus.
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  8. ^ Shire, Emily (13 May 2014). "Mormon U. Forces Gays to Be Celibate". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 20 June 2017. Since LGBT students can be expelled for hugging or kissing someone of the same sex, they are forced to take their displays of affection off campus.
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