In February of 2020, the Honor Code at BYU was updated with the removal of the “Homosexual Behavior” section. On March 4, 2020, the school clarified the removal, saying that, “same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code.”
One year after the clarification, a group started by BYU student Bradley Talbot, Color the Campus, is planning to wear rainbow colors in support of the LGBTQ+ community on campus.
Color the Campus was started in September of 2019 to bring visibility and show love and support for the LGBTQ+ community at all Church Educational System schools.
“I noticed that there was just not a lot of space to support these individuals, a lot of them are closeted and don’t feel like they have any say,” Talbot said. “I wanted to show a public and visual demonstration that they can be welcomed, loved and that there are allies at all the campuses that are there to support them.”
These Rainbow Days fill that want to publicly demonstrate support and they occur once every semester. Talbot said the events have been very successful but are not without resistance.
This was seen over the past week as counter-protest fliers were posted around campus, saying that LGBTQ+ activists will be protesting church teachings while mentioning the Family Proclamation.
Talbot had seen the posters on campus, saying it was frustrating but it was something Color the Campus was used to. He continued, saying that he supports the Family Proclamation, just not when people weaponize it.
“It’s always funny to me because Rainbow Day is not a protest, it’s never been a protest,” Talbot said. “Protests are more towards BYU and trying to get BYU to change, which I personally am an advocate for, I want that to happen — but Rainbow Day is not that. Rainbow Day is facing towards the LGBTQ+ community, so kind of a totally different direction. No matter what the Honor Code says, no matter what church doctrine says, we are here for the LGBTQ+ community.”
BYU does plan to escort any counter-protesters off campus, according to Talbot, as any public demonstration, protesting or the distribution of fliers has to be approved by the school.
Those fliers that were posted around campus were removed and will continue to be removed as they were not approved.
“We are aware of the conversations taking place online, but the university has not received any requests for public expression at this time, and, with the ongoing pandemic, the BYU administration has approved very few in-person gatherings for the safety of our campus community,” a statement from the school said.
Rainbow Day and the counter-protests come exactly a year after changes were made to the BYU Honor Code. Those changes were subsequently clarified by the school and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“People haven’t been able to really receive any explanation or closure on what happened with the Honor Code,” Talbot said. “It was very confusing that they were sending mixed messages, that they were very negligent to respond to students because as soon as the Honor Code changed and the homosexuality clause was taken out, people were hesitant.”
Some were confused about what the removal meant and when looking for more answers, officials reportedly told people it meant there could be same-sex dating and relationships. That lasted about two weeks.
The school has since been silent on the topic, according to Talbot, and the Rainbow Day on March 4 was picked for a reason.
“Kind of to reclaim this day that was very painful and traumatic for LGBTQ+ students, and also to show that we still remember this, we are still waiting for you to explain and to give us some support,” Talbot said.
Talbot added that LGBTQ+ students are still on campus and looking for answers. The Rainbow Day is aimed at reigniting those talks around the Honor Code, bringing visibility and awareness to the topic.
His hope for the day is that it will show that there are more people in support of the LGBTQ+ community than there are against.
The Rainbow Day event will be going on at all CES schools, but anyone is welcome to participate.