Readers’ Forum: 1/26/21


Love one another

A weather-worn flyer was taped on a lamppost near the Joseph Smith Building. Now torn down, it asked this question: “What does queer mean to you?” A response was scribbled underneath: “Someone too selfish to accept God’s plan in their life. Someone that must repent and humble themselves before Heavenly Father.”

I remember learning about this flyer and just kind of laughing it off. Being queer myself, it hurt to hear, but it also wasn’t all that surprising. I wonder if the author is aware that so many queer students on campus had likely already tried repenting for something out of their control. That they may have, at times, wished so badly to have it taken away. To just be “normal.” To just be accepted. I have.

Living as a queer student at BYU has been an exhausting experience. It’s tiring having to gauge how homophobic your peers might be before revealing any information about your identity. There’s a suffocating culture focused on heterosexual relationships, engagements, and marriages. The level that straight students can demonstrate their affection is truly bizarre when compared to the fact that many queer students are too afraid to hold hands.

Being gay at BYU is taboo. It’s high time we breach this uncomfortable topic to take important steps forward towards a more loving school. That change can’t happen if we continue to turn a blind eye to it, pretending the problem isn’t there. It is.

Our university is one that is founded upon the teachings of the Savior — BYU of all schools should be the one to not merely tolerate but love the individuals around us who may be different than we are. A campus-wide transformation starts with a single individual deciding to be more Christ-like. It starts with you.

Be willing to listen to and support queer students. Be the safe space for them that they may not get elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to call people out for making rude or ignorant remarks — I can promise you there are students that will be so grateful for you and you don’t even know it. And most importantly, love one another.

I don’t know where I would be without allies on campus, and I’m so grateful to those who have made BYU feel a bit more like a loving home. Every queer individual here deserves to feel the same.

Emma Taylor
Stallings, North Carolina

Give me a break

What are the most common problems college students face? Money, or a lack of it, stress and/or depression, and homesickness affect nearly every single college student whether from BYU or elsewhere. These perplexing problems too often prove to be detrimental to students’ success and prevent them from focusing all of their energy on their actual education. According to a 2017 survey from the American College Health Association, 31% of nearly 48,000 students admitted that stress had negatively impacted their grades, and 25% recorded educational problems due to anxiety. Not to mention the countless number of students who leave friends, family, and everything else important to them for the spiritually influential BYU education.

My sister found these statistics all too real as she left BYU after only two years because of the overwhelming stress and anxiety that, to her, felt relentless. Before she left, she told me how much she cherished the breaks and small opportunities that allowed her to reset and refocus on her schoolwork and life itself. One crucial opportunity that BYU doesn’t offer is Spring Break. A week without the mental stress and anxiety that bombards college students would benefit the students, professors and their grades alike. In a previous article, the university said that BYU forgoes having a spring break “because of our tight schedule.” Although this is true, studies have shown that when provided a spring break, students have done better academically and emotionally than without.

BYU should consider the blessings that would undoubtedly come from a week off of school and we shouldn’t stand idly by, hoping someone else will make the change. We need a break! And we are the ones who will have to fight for it. Join me in emailing our BYU leaders to change this policy and bless our lives.

Jared Melby
St. Louis, Missouri

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