PROVO, Ut. Less than a week after controversy broke out over anti-LGBTQ remarks by a Mormon church elder during the annual faculty and staff meeting, a Brigham Young University student was taped destroying LGBTQ-affirming chalk messages on campus.
The incident occurred after a student-led “chalk protest” on Thursday evening around 6:00 pm at the foot of one of the BYU entrances, the stairs at 800 N. University Avenue. Students had drawn messages of support for the LGBTQ + campus community on the sidewalks and in the stairwell, protesting what one person described as a hostile environment for queer students.
A couple of friends who had attended the protest and stayed afterwards to watch the hundreds of messages caught a student who was later identified as Connor Ray Murray taking a large bottle of water and pouring its contents over the messages to delete them effectively. As the couple recorded their actions, one of them was heard sarcastically saying; “There you go. I hope you feel a little less homophobic.”
Murray, in response, before leaving, told them so; “Oh, no, uhhh, fagots go to hell.”
Utah-based photographer Brock Bolen later posted the couple’s video that resulted in Murray being identified on social media. Murray has since deleted his Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.
“The gay community is simply over-sensitive!”
This video shows a BYU co-ed disfiguring love and empathy messages for LGBTQ + students at the south entrance of BYU.
Then he says, “Fagots go to hell”.
Detective Twitter does your thing. pic.twitter.com/sVNA05AXB7
– BB (@brockbolen) August 27, 2021
– Hafford Woods (@HafWoods) August 27, 2021
BYU officials responded to the viral video on Twitter:
The code of ethics expressly states that every member of the BYU community has an obligation to respect others. The incident, which was featured in a video shared on social media, is now under review. 2/4
– BYU (@BYU) August 27, 2021
We strive to create a community of belonging composed of students, faculty, and staff whose hearts are united in love. Every student and every single person on our campus deserves to feel part of them. 4/4
– BYU (@BYU) August 27, 2021
Tensions on campus, exacerbated by statements made earlier this week by 80-year-old Jeff Roy Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of Latter-day Saints and a former BYU president, had led to the protest.
“We must have the will to stand alone, to be different when necessary. To be an unmatched university that is primarily a teaching institution for undergraduate degrees that is unequivocally faithful to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If that mission means giving up some professional affiliations and certifications at some point in the future, so be it, ”said Holland. The faculty and staff of the university should use their intellectual “muskets” to defend the Mormon Church, particularly “the doctrine of the family and … marriage as the union of men and women.”
Holland also launched an indictment against 2019 college graduate Matt Easton, the graduate of his year who came out gay during his address to his classmates. Easton noted in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune that he was proud of what he did.
“I did not try to boast or command the event. I used my personal experience because it shaped my time at BYU – authenticity is not the same thing as agenda pushing, ”said Easton.
In an open letter from Easton published this week by the Salt Lake City Tribune referring to Holland’s anti-LGBTQ address, he wrote:
“Last Monday I saw another flood of news. Within an hour of your presentation, three current BYU students expressed to me how insecure and scared they felt when they knew that church leaders had instructed university faculty to use metaphorical “musket fire” to convey “family doctrine.” “To defend and fight back against LGBTQ + integration.
I don’t personally know most of the people who have reached out to me, but I know what it feels like to be in their position, ”wrote Easton.
Paul Southwick, director of the Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP) in Portland, Oregon, brought up this latest anti-LGBTQ incident at BYU.
“We are appalled to see this hateful display of ignorance at BYU. Horrified but not surprised after Elder Jeffrey Holland gave permission for such behavior earlier this week, using dangerous and bellicose comments against LGBTQ students. This incident shows the dire consequences of so-called leaders spreading hateful messages. This news is helping to put LGBTQ students at risk. We reiterate our condemnation of Holland’s remarks and hold him responsible for this subsequent act of hatred on the BYU campus, ”said Southwick.
“When students return to universities across the country, many raise serious concerns about their safety and wellbeing. You need to be protected.
We call on US Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the developing crisis at BYU. It is now time to end anti-LGBTQ discrimination in religious colleges. And it is time to end the religious exemption from Title IX protection, ”he added.