Yesterday, Elder Ronald A. Rasband spoke to BYU campus during the weekly Tuesday devotional. He came to speak on the topic of #Fairness4All and how members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints should treat LGBTQ individuals with fairness and respect. USGA is excited that Elder Rasband chose to speak on such an important topic, and one that has perhaps not received enough attention in that forum in the past. We welcome the dialogue that he encouraged and we’ll continue to work with the university and its students to accomplish that task.
Several quotes in his speech stood out to us. Near the end of his speech, Elder Rasband said, “We need your generation’s natural understanding of compassion, respect, and fairness. We need your optimism and your determination to work through these complex social issues.” Understanding Same Gender Attraction (USGA) at BYU has been hard at work for 5 years now to do just that. Part of our mission statement reads: “If you have come to understand, to be understood, to find empathy and compassion, and to build community, you’ve found the right place. USGA welcomes you.” The task of reaching through differences in opinion, experience, and identity is not an easy one, but it is rewarding.
While it is sometimes common to think of Mormons and the LGBTQ community as separate, we at USGA have been working hard to remind people that there are many many LGBTQ/SSA Mormons at BYU and around the world. We’d like to remind everyone that we are not some foreign, nebulous entity – we’re your fellow classmates, your siblings in Christ, and We Need Him Too.
Later on, Elder Rasband went on to say, “Most importantly we need you to engage in dialogue regarding the complexities of this issue and find solutions for how to best extend fairness to everyone. These conversations need to be occurring in our schools, perhaps right here at Brigham Young University, in our homes, and relationships with friends and co-workers.” We couldn’t agree more. USGA has been meeting with campus administrators over the past year to once again find a space for this important organization to be on campus. We look forward to the day when USGA is welcomed back to campus as an official student organization and an important part of the BYU community.
In the meantime, we will carry on the work of finding empathy and understanding Thursdays at 7pm in the Provo Library. Whether you know it or not, you know someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or identifies as same-sex attracted (LGBTQ/SSA). We’re your classmates, your friends, your ward members; your brothers, sisters, and siblings. Please come join with us as we seek to “work through these complex social issues” and show Christ-like love to all.
-The USGA Presidency