Eight Arrested at BYU, Two From Church of Latter-Day Saints

Peaceful Dialogue Denied; Return Visit to Campus Tomorrow

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brandon Kneefel, West Bus Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6138, brandon@equalityride.com

(Rexburg, Idaho) — On Monday, April 16th, the Equality Ride (a national tour of gay and straight young adults on a mission to end religion-based discrimination) came to Brigham Young University in Rexburg, Idaho. Eight Riders, including two who grew up in the Church of Latter Day Saints, were arrested as they attempted to engage the campus in dialogue. The Riders walked on with photos of their families: a message to the community that God affirms lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their families as they are.

"I am disheartened that the administration would arrest us, silence their students, and promote discriminatory policies rather than open up their hearts and minds to their LGBT students who are suffering in the closet," said Alexey Bulokhov, Soulforce Equality Ride Co-Director.

BYU upholds LDS doctrines that condemn gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from being out and active members in the Church. BYU lists "homosexual conduct" as grounds for expulsion.

Melissa Pomeroy, a sophomore at BYU, shared her concern: "I feel like I’m all alone at BYU. There is no way for me to meet others like me, even just to talk, because everyone is so afraid of coming out."

"Many closeted students at BYU have reached out to us in anonymity. Some want to thank us and some want someone to talk to. Overall, it’s clear that these students need us to begin this dialogue because they cannot risk being out, and they need to see that it’s okay to be gay and Christian — God loves us as we are," said Cray Gondek, Rider and BYU, Idaho Stop Coordinator.

Equality Riders will hold a vigil tomorrow at 4th St and Center from 10 am-2 pm. At 5 pm, the Equality Riders will host a Family Picnic at Porter Park (2 nd West St.) and all community members and media are welcome to join in food, activities, and discussions.

The Soulforce Equality Ride, in its second annual year, is made up of 50 young adults, two buses, and two routes, one eastbound and one westbound.

Their first stop in Idaho was at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho. Along with NNU, the westbound bus has received many welcomes onto campus and has shared a message of inclusion across the Midwest and Pacific Coast.

The next stop on the Equality Ride is Yellowstone Baptist College in Billings, Montana, where Equality Riders will bring a hope for dialogue regarding the school’s discriminatory policies against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. For more information go to www.soulforce.org or www.equalityride.com.