PROVO, Utah (AP) — Students at Brigham Young University illuminated the letter “Y” on a mountain overlooking the Provo campus on Thursday with rainbow colors in a display meant to send a message to the religious school.
The light display on the concrete letter ended “Color the Campus,” an organized event where students wore rainbow colors in support of the LGBTQ campus community, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The event came a year after the school, alongside its Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owners, sent a letter in March 2020 that said “same-sex romantic behavior” was prohibited and would lead to discipline under the school code.
In February 2020, BYU deleted the words “homosexual behavior” from the school’s honor code, which created confusion among LGBTQ students over what is and what is not allowed. The code prohibited sexual activity outside of marriage, but same-sex couples publicly lauded the code change and shared pictures of themselves holding hands and kissing their partners.
Church leaders a month later clarified the change in a statement saying any “same-sex romance” was a violation of the school’s honor code.
“Color The Campus” organizer Bradley Talbot previously said that LGBTQ students have continued to face challenges a year later.
“It was traumatic. So this was a day for us to reclaim that and try to turn it into something positive,” he told The Tribune. “We’re here, and we’re part of this institution. We should have a place at the Y.”
About 40 students participated in lighting the 380-foot (115-meter) tall “Y,” holding multicolored flashlights for an hour on the concrete, officials said. The “Y” has white lights installed on it, which the school traditionally lights for special events, such as Homecoming.
“BYU did not authorize the lighting of the Y tonight,” the university said in a post on Twitter. It also said “any form of public expression on university property requires prior approval.”
In response to the campaign, photos were shared online encouraging people to carry umbrellas to campus as a counter-protest. The flyers included the word “FamProc,” a reference to “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” which is a statement that defines the position of leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on marriage and gender roles.
The university previously said the flyers were not university-approved and would be removed.