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Jamie Belnap: Dear BYU, It’s not me. It’s you.

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) Brigham Young University LGBTQ students took their concerns about the school's policy reversal regarding romantic behavior by same-sex couples to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints office building, Mar. 6, 2020. Despite removing the section on "homosexual behavior" from BYU Honor Code last month, The LDS Church has clarified for the first time that same-sex romantic behavior is still "not compatible" with the rules at BYU.

Dear BYU,

I’m writing to tell you we’re breaking up. My tendency is to say, “It’s not you, it’s me,” and, “I just want to be friends,” but neither of those is true. The fact is, you broke my heart last week, and it can’t be sutured.

We had some good times together, didn’t we? I met you when I was 18 and we were the perfect match. Through you, I met some of my dearest friends. I lived abroad because of you. We developed my mind. Yes, you could be controlling, a bit restrictive, more of a parent than a partner at times, but you loved me, and I trusted you.

But here’s the thing, BYU: My son is gay. My best friend is gay. Some of the most magnificent people in my life are LGBTQ, and you’ve repeatedly injured people like them. Because we had something special, I’ve forgiven your past misdeeds, but not this time.

A few weeks ago, you told LGBTQ students they were safe on campus. I’ll admit I was skeptical. I’ve seen students betrayed before, and I worried you’d snatch back the breadcrumbs you tossed their way. But as the days began stacking up, I came to believe you. We all did. So much so that many LGBTQ students who’d been hiding in the shadows stepped out into the sun.

They came out. They exposed themselves and their relationships. They felt safe because you assured them they were.

And then, in a moment too shocking to believe, you took it all back. Those kids who thought they were safe? Nope. Joke’s on them. You let them shed their skin and now it’s gone.

How could you do that, BYU? Why didn’t you let them stay where they were safe? Can’t you see the cruelty in this?

I’m too exhausted to deliberate your reasoning. It really doesn’t matter if it was an intentional move or thoughtless oversight. You have brilliant people working for you, and thoughtlessness of this magnitude is cruelty defined.

I’ve read many disheartening comments online this week from people who love you.

“They knew what they were signing up for,” and, “Why don’t they go elsewhere if they’re so unhappy,” and, worst of all, “Another example of millennials thinking the world owes them something.”

Do they know similar sentiments were hurled at Jews by the Nazis? Against blacks during the civil rights movement? Rosa Parks was told she knew the bus rules when she paid her fare. She, too, was told to get off the bus and walk if she was dissatisfied with her seat.

I wish you and your friends could see that these students are not asking for special treatment. They’re asking for equal treatment. Students have died on your campus because of how you’ve mistreated them. Students have tried to die in your dorms and on your streets. But you know this better than anyone.

There is a silver lining, BYU. The LGBTQ students who exposed themselves have lost the ability to hide, but so have you. You’ve revealed your true character, and there’s no going back.

No amount of “I love yous” from an abusive partner can erase the bruises. I know this because, as a Sunbeam, I was taught that actions speak louder than words.

The tragedy for you is that you don’t know what you’re missing when you smother your LGBTQ students. You don’t know the potential depth of campus color: the richness, the vibrancy. In your quest to hold your ground, you can’t see it. But it’s your loss, BYU, not theirs.

I know you don’t care that you’ve broken my heart too many times to count, but I do. We’re breaking up. And I can say with absolute certainty: It’s not me. It’s you.

Jamie Belnap

Jamie Belnap is a high school counselor in Salt Lake City. She lives in the Heber Valley with her husband and four children.

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