BYU Prof Hit With Death Threats For Not Being Monster About Gay Students Existing
Back in February, seemingly out of nowhere, Brigham Young University in Utah changed its honor code to allow gay students to date. Because in case you didn't know, Brigham Young University's honor code prohibited gay students from being involved in romantic relationships and those found to be engaging in them could be punished or suspended. Much like Bob Jones University did with interracial couples until the late '90s.
Upon this announcement, BYU finance professor Jim Brau put out a video (which has since been taken down) explaining to his students why this was a blessing, especially for those of them who did not want BYU to do this — because after they leave BYU, they will have to live and work in a world where LGBT people exist and they will lose their jobs if they are shitty about that at work.
"BYU just did you a massive favor," he said.
He offered a practical perspective, noting that students who later get jobs will work with LGBTQ individuals and need to be welcoming. He pointed out that a former student of his was recently fired from "our No. 1 recruiting company" for making homophobic comments to a gay co-worker. "I'm just saying, we need to be more Christ-like," Brau suggested. [...]
"I do realize for some of us, including me, who have been praying for this moment for years, today is a massive watershed," Brau said to his students. "For others of you, this is a huge struggle and I understand that. … But if you see same-gender couples walking around campus, being respectful, acting like straight couples, that's really going to get you ready for the real world."
Now, most normal people in the year 2020 are going to read that statement and go "Wow, he sure is being delicate with those homophobes!" But the homophobes, it turns out, very much disagree. "Alt-right online groups," Brau says, have been threatening to hurt him, his wife, and his kids, and in order to keep them safe he says he will no longer post his class discussions online.
And yet the homophobes do not even have that much to fear. While BYU's newfangled policy will allow gay students to engage in romantic relationships, that is on their own time only. When many gay students celebrated their newfound freedom by performing such illicit acts as holding hands in the hallway, BYU was quick to mention that "gay behavior" was still "not compatible" with their honor code, right up there with drinking tea or coffee.
Since then, there have been daily protests from LGBTQ students at Brigham Young, which is actually just so cool. These kids felt freed by the changing of the honor code and don't want to go back in the closet.
It was the most Mormon of rallies Friday afternoon as hundreds of young people — many draped in rainbow flags and carrying signs about God's love — gathered in Salt Lake City to share their concerns about Brigham Young University's changing position on "romantic behavior" by same-sex couples.
Demonstrators were organized, orderly and unfailingly polite. They sang LDS hymns, including "Love One Another" and "Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?" They chanted "Love means love," "Let all students date," "Love is a human right," "Trans lives matter" and "L, G, B, T, God loves you and God loves me." They carried signs, saying, "God would not renounce me," and, "I learned to rise & shout at BYU."
As shitty as it is to think of the assholes out there sending death threats to a professor for saying that not being shielded from the existence of gay people was good preparation for the outside world, it's incredibly heartening to see all these kids who were raised in one of the most homophobic of environments standing up in this way. That is not something a lot of people would expect to see at a place like BYU, myself included, and it should give us all a little bit of hope that things will keep getting better all around. Good for them, and good for that professor.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse