Students will participate in “Rainbow Day” to show support for the LGBT community on March 4 — the anniversary of last year’s Honor Code clarification.
Rainbow Day is sponsored by Color the Campus, a student-run Instagram account. It is a day for students to wear rainbow clothing to show love and support for LGBT students and faculty at all CES schools, according to the movement’s Instagram.
This will be the fourth Rainbow Day. Founder Bradley Talbot said it is not a protest, as many people have assumed.
“It’s a visual representation showing support,” he said. “It was never a protest.”
The second-ever Rainbow Day was on Feb. 26, 2020, and Talbot said it coincided with events surrounding changes to the Honor Code. BYU had announced an updated Honor Code on Feb. 19. The section on homosexual behavior was removed, causing confusion over whether students could date members of the same sex.
Talbot said he had been planning that semester’s Rainbow Day several months in advance, and had no idea it would take place just a couple of weeks after the Honor Code changed.
The Church Educational System then sent out a letter clarifying the new language on March 4, 2020. “The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code,” it read. “Same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code.”
Talbot said this led to official protests and more attention to Color the Campus and its mission. Although Rainbow Day is separate from any protests that took place last year, he said he intentionally scheduled it this year on the anniversary of the clarification.
“That was a traumatic day, so this is an effort to make it something positive,” he said.
Many students came out of the closet after the Honor Code revision and were forced back in after the clarification, which led to feelings of depression and anxiety, according to Talbot. He said some dropped out of or failed their classes.
For allies trying to understand or opponents framing Rainbow Day as a protest, he said one way to look at the upcoming event is “this was a harmful day, so (members of the LGBT community) need us to step up and show support.’”
The obvious way to show support on Rainbow Day, he said, is to just wear rainbow clothing.
“It’s a way to let people know, ‘I’m a safe person for you to talk with and be open with,’” he said.
He additionally suggested participants send pictures of themselves in their rainbow attire to Color the Campus, make sure their rainbow attire is visible in Zoom classes and reach out to LGBT loved ones to tell them personally that they love and support them.
“For me, Rainbow Day is a great day to show support for those in the LGBT community and that they have a space here at this school,” communications junior Jose Silva said. “Rainbow Day gives me the opportunity to be an ally.”
Some individuals put out flyers on March 2 suggesting Rainbow Day is a protest of Church policies and encouraging students to wear BYU apparel instead of rainbows on Thursday. The flyers were not BYU-approved and will be taken down if they have not already, according to university spokesperson Carri Jenkins.
The Color the Campus Instagram account confirms that it never has been and never will be anti-BYU or anti-LDS.
“Our mission is to support, protect, befriend and love members of the LGBTQ+ community at all CES schools, in line with both the principles outlined in the Honor Code and the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the account states.