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Mormon university professor receives death threats after saying gay students would be a ‘blessing’

Lily Wakefield March 11, 2020
Mormon university professor

BYU finance professor Jim Brau. (BYU MMT/ YouTube)

A professor at a Mormon university has been receiving death threats since he said in a lecture that having openly LGBT+ students was a “blessing”.

Jim Brau teaches the finance programme at Brigham Young University (BYU), which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), commonly known as the Mormon church.

In February, BYU’s Honor Code, which students can be expelled for breaking, was amended to remove a section prohibiting “homosexual behaviour”.

LGBT+ students celebrated by kissing friends and partners of the same gender in various places around campus, but a few days later the university issued a statement saying there had been some “miscommunication”.

Brau, who has long been an ally of LGBT+ students, decided to address the tension and confusion around the Honor Code changes during a lecture.

He said he had called the Honor Code office and asked directly: “Are gay students allowed to have the same ability to hold hands, to hug, to date, to kiss, to do whatever straight couples do?”

He said the office told him: “The Honor Code no longer prohibits that.”

Brau told the 1,200 students in his class: “I do realise for some of us, including me, who have been praying for this moment for years, yesterday was a massive watershed for us. For others of you, this is a huge struggle, and I understand that it’s a massive struggle.

“You’re like, ‘What are you telling me? Two girls are gonna be able to kiss on campus? That’s blow my head off! Two guys can walk around campus holding hands?’

“This is what I have to say – BYU just did you a massive favour. Because when you get out in the workplace, your boss might be gay. Your boss might be trans, you definitely will have co-workers who are gay. You have people all over the place who are LGBT+ and you’re not going to know how to react.”

He added: “So if you see same-gender couples walking around, being respectful, acting like straight couples, that’s really going to get you ready for the real world. That is a blessing.”

After Brau uploaded the lecture to YouTube, as he did with every class, the clip went viral. The professor said that is when he began receiving threats.

In a letter to his students, he wrote: “After one of our class videos went viral, my family and I have been receiving threats from alt-right online groups and other online posts.

“As a result, I am no longer comfortable posting class lectures online.”

Many of his current and former students took to social media to say that the professor was their “hero”. One wrote: “Jim Brau was the only professor I ever felt actually comfortable going to talk to about concerns and he provided great advice.”

A BYU spokesperson, told the Salt Lake Tribune that Brau had been in contact with campus police about the threats.

Since his lecture, BYU backtracked on removing the ban “homosexual behaviour”, and announced that “same-sex romantic behaviour” will still be outlawed.

The former dean of the Mormon university came out as a lesbian this week.

She told ABC4: “I feel the need to speak out because I think I am uniquely positioned as someone who’s had a lot of experience from inside the organisation at BYU and has had a lot of close inner interaction with the administration at BYU to understand some of the things that are going on there.”

She described the policy flip-flop as a “dumpster fire”, and added: “To engender that kind of hope, and then this feeling of, ‘Yeah, we can be acceptable, yes, we can belong somewhere,’ and then to just sort of rip that away or rip that out from underneath someone, it’s cruel, it’s violent… I think it’s a horrific thing to do to somebody.”

More: Brigham Young University, byu, homosexual behavior, Jim Brau, LGBT students, Mormon university, professor, Utah

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