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December 18, 2014

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BYU students send ‘It Gets Better’ message to gay youth

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Students from an unofficial gay-straight alliance at BYU produced an “It Gets Better” video for young gay people.

A year and a half after Dan Savage and Terry Miller sparked the “It Gets Better” viral phenomenon, people and organizations across the globe continue to post inspirational videos to YouTube to let LGBT youth know that life, indeed, does get better.

One such video, posted on March 29, came from a place most wouldn’t expect—Brigham Young University. The organization responsible is an unofficial gay-straight alliance at the Mormon university called Understanding Same-Gender Attraction (USGA). Their mission is to “strengthen families and the BYU community by providing a place for open, respectful discussions on the topic of same-gender attraction.” The video USGA produced indicates that more than 1,800 LGBT students attend the Provo, Utah university.

LGBT students and their straight allies contributed to the video, sharing personal testimonies that were often emotional and sometimes heartbreaking. "I just felt that I needed to just kill myself because the heartbreak of me dying would be less than the heartbreak my parents would experience if I came out to them," says one lesbian student in the film. The video also says that 74 percent of LGBT students at BYU have contemplated suicide and that 24 percent have actually attempted it.

According to USGA’s video, BYU changed its honor code in 2007 to allow LGBT students to be open about their sexual orientation (students once feared expulsion for coming out of the closet). However, the university's honor code still requires strict chastity for all students, and says, "Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings." In 2010, the video says, the university made another major change, lifting a ban on “advocacy for homosexuality.” That change means videos like USGA’s can now be produced on the BYU campus—and hopeful messages for Mormon LGBT youth are now being heard.

As one student says in the video, "There are people rooting for you. There are people who love you. We might not know you personally, but we are cheering for you the whole entire way. I want you to know that it really does get better."

A version of this story first appeared on lasvegasweekly.com, a sister site of the Sun.

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  1. I hope every Mormon in the country sees this. The Democratic Party heard it many years ago. It is past time for Conservatives to hear it as well to put this nonsense behind us... embrace our gay conservative younger generation as allies and welcome them into a party that is open to their needs as well as the needs of many other conservatives. Yes.... I know all about what the Bible says..... However, when you put everything into it's proper place you understand that the Bible has been badly manipulated for thousands of years. Jesus says we should love each other. To me....that is plain and simple....everyone....no matter what their skin color...political affiliation, ethnic background, etc..etc.. We as a party and as individuals DON"T have all the answers. It is much more complicated in this world than ever before. We need new thinkers, new ideas, etc. What mainstream conservatives do not understand is that more gays tend to lean toward conservative than the horrible direction that Democrats have taken over the years. But we as a political party shun gays as if they all had AIDS, or are Lepers...etc. They are'nt. Most are like you and me. We love our country, pay our taxes (although with some reservations) think the same on most issues, religious, moral and political, and we are kept apart because of differences that as long as it isn't our son or daughter we avoid addressing. Well, it isn't my son...it isn't my daughter...but I am ready to openly say WELCOME my gay neighbors, friends, relatives, and all those who have been shuned over the years because we have been told you were sick....disgusting...sinners...or whatever horrible tags we allowed to be placed upon you. I could care less what you sexual leaning is. I want to know if you love your country, are willing to put your life on the line for it, are willing to work with a diverse group of people who have good intentions but have been blindly led by idiots for the past fifty years or more, then please join me and many other who care not what the color of your skin is...what country you were born in...what sexual orientation you are, etc. but care a lot about what you think we need to do to make our country the leader of the world, to greatly decrease the debt we are allowing to destroy our economy and country, to put us back on track as the example for all to follow, to show that no matter who you are, what you are, if you are an American and love the USA, then we welcome the opportunity to work with you to bring about changes badly needed in our country.
    God Bless you for your honesty. If your parents can't deal with it, I can and so can millions of other conservatives in the country.
    I am proud to communicate with any of the gay/lesbian/transgendered community in this country to work to bring about a better USA and one that is the shinning light for the entire world. Gettng past this 'gay' thing is a giant step forward and is many years past due.
    [email protected]

  2. Oh, cut it out already! Gay, straight, whatever; grow a spine and get over yourself! Having people dislike you comes with being alive and living among others. This constant beat of "I'm being picked on" is enough to make me carry a barf bag with me where ever I go. We've become a nation of whiners and offense takers. "Sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me," was the way I grew up and I shrugged off those I had a difference with and went about my business. Quit crying wolf and ignore those you find unlikeable. You don't have to associate with them.

  3. Poor kids.

    I feel bad for them as they struggle to stay in the church. I have counselled and known of several such kids who finally gave up. Hearing fake words on how they are loved while the disgust in the face of the leaders was clear.

    They are much happier than they were when they were trying to live within the church. The church leaders forgave their "sins' but it seems they never really forgot.

  4. If it doesn't involve children or violence, I don't care what gets you through the night.