SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: March 22, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Brandon Kneefel, West Bus Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6138, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Salt Lake City, UT) — Mormon Equality Rider Kourt Osborn, and his mother, Karel Allen, were arrested in an attempt to deliver a list of concerns to the administration regarding BYU’s discriminatory policies against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. The list was presented with a white lily symbolizing the LDS youth who have committed suicide because they could not reconcile their LDS faith and sexual orientation. Concurrently, Equality Riders and community members walked for 6 hours on BYU’s perimeter to reenact the “Walls of Jericho” march, symbolizing the walls of oppression at BYU. Current and former BYU students, gay and straight, submitted over fifty pages of concerns for the well-being of LGBT students at BYU.
This is the fourth stop for the Equality Ride, a national tour of 50 young adults visiting schools that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. The Equality Riders are gay, straight, and transgender, Christian and non-Christian, and their group includes 4 LDS Riders.
The BYU Student Honor Code states that “no one known to be guilty of overt and active homosexual conduct is to be enrolled or permitted to remain at Church Educational System (CES) campuses as students…”
Brian Carl, a current BYU student and straight ally, says “the homophobic atmosphere at BYU makes it possible for students to verbally attack SSA [same-sex attracted] individuals.”
The Equality Riders spent Wednesday afternoon at UVSC leading presentations about sexual orientation and faith to many community members, including LDS youth, and spent Wednesday evening with fifty BYU students discussing the reconciliation of the Church and LGBT individuals. “What can we do for the LGBT community?” one BYU student said during the open dialogue.
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.”
Last week, while the Soulforce Equality Riders were in Colorado, they received a letter from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints asking that Equality Riders “not enter church property for any purpose.”
“After months of attempted dialogue, it is clear that the administration at BYU does not respect this conversation and wishes to silence the issue and their students. We return because at this very moment, there are many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students suffering alone on campus, many of whom have reached out to us,” says Matt Kulisch, BYU stop coordinator and former BYU student.
“We remain hopeful that the student leaders will continue this dialogue beyond our [Equality Riders’] visit and that the administration will come to see the value in this discussion,” Kulisch adds.
The Equality Riders will continue their mission to end religion-based discrimination against the LGBT community as they visit Brigham Young University, Idaho in mid-April. The next stop on the Ride will be Pepperdine University in Malibu, where Equality Riders will engage in a welcomed dialogue regarding Pepperdine’s discriminatory policies.
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.