Readers’ Forum: Within earshot

A participant holds a pride flag in the sunlight. BYU student Alex de la Bruere encourages his peers to be more careful about how they speak about others, helping to create a more loving campus community. (Cassidy Wixom)

Most wouldn’t know I experience same-sex attraction. I haven’t always advertised it. Firmly committed to my faith and covenants, I don’t stand out from most at BYU.

So naturally, fellow students haven’t always been careful about what they say around me. Many of my friends and roommates have joked about people who are gay. I’ve even overheard a few students question what LGBTQ people are doing at BYU. I understand most of this is rooted in misunderstanding or just in jest. I haven’t taken offense.

But too many others have been hit and hurt by the ricochet of carelessly tossed words. That sort of shot still stings.

Most of us intend to be inviting and inclusive. But we can still be more cautious in our comments and sensitive in our speech. Sadly, some of our classmates, feeling unwelcome or fearing judgment, have responded to casually tossed comments by turning away — not only from our campus but from our faith and God.

No student striving to live BYU standards should struggle to feel that he or she belongs here. As a student community, let’s work harder to prevent ignorance and insensitivity from needlessly inflicting pain on each other, regardless of the issue.

Could we all commit to be more careful that we “offend not in word” (James 3:2)? While we certainly can and should defend our values and viewpoints, we need to speak with more discretion and discernment, no matter who we are speaking to. We never know who might be within earshot.

To any wounded by the words of anyone at BYU, please know many people on this campus, including myself, feel deeply for you. We are sorry. We want to improve. Keep sharing your stories with us!

In the meantime, please be patient with those who don’t yet understand your challenges and seek to “forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Responding with antagonism will only aggravate animosity and deepen distrust.

I fervently hope as we develop and demonstrate greater awareness and empathy, patiently correcting each other where we fall short, we can come closer to “having [our] hearts knit in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21).

–Alex de la Bruere

Bettendorf, Iowa

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