Metro Weekly

BYU Pulled LGBTQ Pamphlet From Student Welcome Bags

Brigham Young University removed pamphlets with LGBTQ resources from welcome bags, citing they go against the church teachings.

Brigham Young University – Photo: Pastelitodepapa/wikicommons

Brigham Young University removed pamphlets with LGBTQ resources from welcome bags for new students last month, according to Today.

Created by the student-run group RaYnbow Collective, the pamphlets directed students to resources for safe housing, therapy, scholarships, gender-affirming clothes, and political action opportunities, as well as events students could attend.

The Honor Code Office at BYU, a Utah university sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, prohibits “same-sex romantic behavior.” The RaYnbow Collective, which supports safe spaces for LGBTQ students and staff, isn’t technically affiliated with BYU, even though students run the non-profit.

Maddison Tenney, the group’s executive director, told TODAY she started RaYnbow Collective to help others avoid the loneliness she felt her freshman year as a gay student at BYU.

“I remember sitting in my white dorm room with these cement walls and breaking down,” Tenney said. “I didn’t know anyone who was like me, who wanted to be faithful and embrace the fullness of themselves.”

To develop the pamphlets, Tenney said RaYnbow Collective collaborated with BYU student paper The Daily Universe and paid a $200 fee. She called the pamphlets “kosher and in line with policy.”

Eleven days after submitting them, a resident assistant and friend of Tenney’s messaged to say she had to remove the pamphlets from every welcome bag. Tenney contacted multiple departments on campus, at which point the Office of Student Life told her that the pamphlets went against the church.

In a statement to Today about removing the pamphlets, BYU said it hopes students and employees use the Office of Belonging instead of “materials from an organization outside of the university.”

BYU announced the creation of the Office of Belonging in August 2021. In the announcement, the school described the office’s mission as, among other items, ensuring all “relationships reflect devout love of God and a loving, genuine concern for the welfare of our neighbor.”

Tenney said the Office of Belonging has yet to provide meaningful support to marginalized students. She also said she’s received violent threats since church leader Jeffrey R. Holland gave a homophobic speech at BYU last August.

Though BYU maintains anti-LGBTQ policies, groups like RaYnbow Collective envision a more inclusive future at BYU.

On RaYnbow Collective’s website, the text under “Our Vision” reads, “Every BYU student will be safe, connected, and supported.”

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