Controversial flyers were posted around campus on Tuesday suggesting a counter-protest planned for Thursday when LGBT support movement Color the Campus plans to celebrate “Rainbow Day.”
But BYU made it clear that university officials were taking the signs down. “The flyers were not approved and since have been and will be taken down,” said university spokesperson Carri Jenkins.
The flyer depicts a raining cloud with rainbow-colored raindrops and “Has the raYnbow got you seeking shelter from the storm?” written over it. Underneath, there’s what appears to be a family holding up an umbrella with “FamProc” written on it.
“On March 4th, LGBT activists are protesting church teachings on BYU campus,” it reads. “Instead, faithful members will show their support for the Family Proclamation by wearing BYU swag and carrying or wearing an umbrella. Join us.”
It is unclear what exact group or individuals planned the protest, but it appears to be in connection with #DezNat on Twitter. DezNat stands for Deseret Nation. Those who use the hashtag often defend The Family Proclamation, sometimes criticizing BYU.
BYU alumna Suzie Pilkington tweeted a photo of the flyer, which is now deleted. Her friend Jonathan Whitmore, a gay BYU senior, sent her the photo after he saw the flyers on campus. She said she was disheartened and sad to see it.
Along with the photo Pilkington wrote, “For all my BYU baddies who have seen this flyer today, please please know there is a place for you and you are loved. This flyer only represents the dumb close-minded few who don’t understand.”
BYU responded to the flyer an hour after Pilkington posted it by tweeting, “This is not a university-approved/sponsored event & these fliers are currently being removed.”
Whitmore said he thought the university’s response was “awesome,” commending its quick handling of the situation.
Whitmore said he was initially confused by the flyer, as it appeared to mimic the style BYU uses for its advertisements. After he read it, it became very clear that it was not sponsored by the university.
While he described seeing the flyer as a “gut punch,” he said it doesn’t really hurt that much after all that’s gone on.
“It’s hard being a gay BYU student,” Whitmore said. “Most of us live the Honor Code just like the straight students do, but there’s just reminders everywhere that it’s kind of easy to feel like a second-class member of the Church. It’s hard, but you get used to it I guess.”
Pilkington said she made the post to show solidarity towards the LGBT students who follow her, but didn’t expect it to become as controversial as it did.
She later removed the Tweet and posted a “Rainbow Day” advertisement instead. “I took it down because I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction,” she said. “We don’t need to focus on that flyer and the people associated with it.”
From what she’s seen, Pilkington described DezNat as a small group of radicalists who are “pretty hateful.”
Many of the critical tweets in response to BYU’s decision to remove the flyers were from people online who use the hashtag #DezNat. One in particular from Twitter user @Matthew_7_14 said, “We are taking BYU back.” He declined to do an interview with The Daily Universe, telling the reporter, “I don’t speak to journalists.”
Another user @yagirlstacy_ wrote, “Someone tell @Ch_JesusChrist that their school doesn’t support the teachings of The Church.”
@NotYourBishop tweeted, “I’m not saying that I would burn #BYU to the ground, but what I am saying is that if it caught on fire and I had a fleet of fire trucks right next to the university, I would pretend that we were out of water.”
“Rainbow Day” is still scheduled for Thursday, March 4. Color the Campus tweeted that it isn’t a protest, but rather a day for LGBT students and faculty to wear rainbow in support of the community.
This semester’s “Rainbow Day” is being held one year after BYU released a letter from the Church Educational System clarifying that students could not date members of the same sex. Students had previously been confused about whether the university would allow members of the same sex to date after the Church removed a section of the Honor Code about homosexual behavior in mid-February 2020.
A similar ideological clash occurred then when students held a reading of the Family Proclamation in response to the changes. LGBT students and allies sung hymns to drown out the reading.
“This act of negligence, betrayal and discrimination has not been forgotten and still impacts LGBTQ+ individuals one year later,” a @colorthecampus Instagram post reads.
Color the Campus founder Bradley Talbot said BYU is aware of Rainbow Day in a tweet. “Protests can happen. This is not one of them,” he said in another.
Pilkington said she thinks Rainbow Day will be safe on Thursday and that BYU has come a long way in being supportive towards students.