A man tore down a banner on Jan. 23 that supported LGBT teens. An Orem mom had placed the banner in her yard in response to multiple suicides at Timpanogos High School.
The suicides were not confirmed or denied by school officials; however, they were enough to motivate Brenda (who asked that her full name be withheld) to do something.
Her home is near the school’s campus and she had the idea to put up banners along her fence. “Lots of kids, at least a third of the kids, are going by this once or twice a day,” she said. “If I can communicate to them that they are loved no matter who they love, I would love to get that message out there.”
She commissioned Encircle and The Trevor Project to create the banners. Encircle is an LGBT resource center for families and youth with locations in Provo, Salt Lake City, St. George and Logan. The Trevor Project is a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention through a 24/7 hotline. Brenda said it seemed no one had ever commissioned either organization to design a banner. She hung up the banners which read “No sides, only love” and “You are never alone” during last April’s General Conference weekend.
Since then Brenda said she’s received positive affirmation from strangers. “We’ve had three people stop by and tearfully thank us for having the banners,” she said. “That they’re thankful that their kids get to walk by and see that somebody else supports them. They reassure us that we’re doing the right thing.”
In June 2019, she hung a pride flag in her yard to celebrate pride month. During that month, her flag was stolen five times. “I want to use the word desecrated,” Brenda said when describing the experience. Her family would later find the flag in the garbage, dirty and cut up. They continued to plant the flag in their yard.
Brenda became concerned with her family’s safety. “It’s a very safe neighborhood,” she said. “You could leave your door unlocked.”
They previously had a single motion-activated security camera on their doorbell, but after their flag was stolen the second time, they invested in a new security system that could record their entire lawn 24/7.
Fast forward to January of this year. Their new security system captured a man tearing down their banner designed by Encircle. The cameras that recorded him are not hidden, according to Brenda. The man walked toward the banner twice but ran and hid behind the seminary building of Timpanogos High School when cars drove by. On the third approach, with no cars on the road, he tore down the banner.
Brenda said the invasion of her property has made her sympathetic to the plight of LGBT youth in the area. “If this is happening to an adult, what is happening to a kid in school?” she said.
While her flag and banner have been attacked, she said no one in the neighborhood has asked her to take them down. These events have always happened at night. At the same time, she said she has found very little support from her neighbors.
“I would like to start seeing banners like this around all high schools,” she said. But when she’s offered flags to her neighbors, none joined her. She even offered to help them plant flags in their yards. “We had zero neighbors call,” she said.
Encircle has shown support for Brenda. They began a fundraiser to buy billboards in the area displaying the same phrase that was on her banner: “No sides, only love.” According to Encircle COO Jacob Dunford, they have already fundraised over 60% of the needed funds because of donations from about 170 people. This way, according to the company, the banner “cannot be broken.”
Brenda said she has no ill will toward the perpetrator who tore down her banner. “I want him to learn what love is,” she said.