By Seba Martinez
Brigham Young University’s paper, the Daily Universe, published, then later removed from its website, “Crimes against Nature,” a letter in which a BYU student compared a gay parent to a prostitute or a serial killer.
“Just as if we wouldn’t want a child to grow up with a prostitute for a mother or a serial killer for a father, we shouldn’t accept a lesbian, gay or transgender parental model for young people,” wrote Taylor Petty, from Raleigh, N.C., in the November 17 issue. “As prophets have said for four thousand years, sodomy is a disgusting sin we can’t accept.”
The letter was part of an ongoing discussion about Modern Family, a TV sitcom which depicts a gay couple who have adopted a child. The discussion was started by a letter in which Alex Hairston, from Provo, Utah, quoted a friend who told him that “he would rather pay extra taxes in order for a child to be brought up in an orphanage or foster care rather than to be adopted by a gay couple.”
Petty’s letter caused an uproar among BYU lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their supporters, who placed a flyer inside many copies of the Nov. 18 issue of the Universe. Further criticism of Petty’s letters appear in the Student Review and even the Daily Universe itself.
“Gay students are in every classroom, every ward and every apartment complex at BYU and we want to reach out in love to help you better understand,” an anonymous flyer inside the Daily Universe reads. “The attitude represented by these articles reopens wounds that Christ died to heal. … The task of any religion is not to teach us who we are entitled to hate, but who we are required to love.”
The flyer includes the link to a Facebook page, Shame on You Daily Universe, which describes the actions taken by BYU students to protest the Daily Universe: “One student took a flyer to work to put up on the wall of the Writing Center. When he got there, there was already one up. Dozens of students returned to thank those passing out fliers for their work. One of them spoke about how important it was for her because her brother is gay. Students rose up in classes all around campus and read the flyer to their classmates.”
“Regardless of your opinions on gay adoption and parenting, words like [Pattti’s] are unproductive, offending those that disagree and failing to bring legitimacy to your argument,” wrote Hunter Schwartz in the Student Review.
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World also states parents should rear their children in love and righteousness, provide for their physical and spiritual needs and teach them to love and serve one another, to name a few,” wroteJordan Meservy in the Daily Universe. “To think only heterosexual couples are capable of doing this is crazy talk.”
Late on Friday, November 18, Daily Universe managing editor Joel Campbell ordered the letter to be removed from the Daily Universe website.
“The Daily Universe has removed the letter originally published here after several readers complained about its tone and approach to homosexuality,” Campbell wrote on the new webpage substituting for where the letter was once displayed. “We agree that the letter did not represent the standards of our sponsoring institution or our university community including the recent statement in the LDS Church Handbook of Instruction: ‘While opposing homosexual behavior, the Church reaches out with understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender.’ The letter published in the Daily Universe did not represent the kind of understanding and respect that should accompany dialog on this issue. We regret that the letter was ever published.”
“The Daily Universe retracted the letter and all its implications,” the Shame on You Facebook page explains. “For that, DU, we thank you and offer our renewed respect.”
BYU and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a long history of demonizing LGBT people–especially the idea of marriage equality and same-sex parenting.
In a controversial 2004 speech, Sheri Dew, president and CEO of LDS-owned Deseret Book likened those who do not oppose gay marriage to those who did nothing to oppose Hitler’s rise to power. During the same speech, Dew showed a photo of a same-sex couple with infants which she saw in Newsweek magazine and said, in disgust, “I just can’t stomach this-the thought of those girls being raised in that kind of a setting.”