+
Identity

BYU student protests school's LGBTQ policy by revealing a rainbow flag in her graduation gown

BYU student protests school's LGBTQ policy by revealing a rainbow flag in her graduation gown

Bisexual BYU graduate shows her true colors at ceremony.

New graduate Jillian Orr sent a strong message to underclassmen coming up behind her at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Orr was there to receive her degree in psychology, and for the first time since being a student at the Y she decided to share her truth while also protesting against the school’s LGBTQ policies. Orr had sewn a rainbow flag into her graduation gown and as she walked across the stage to receive her degree, she opened her gown revealing the flag to the audience and cameras.

A private research university, BYU is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the school restricts LGBTQ+ students from dating or showing signs of affection toward a same sex partner while enrolled. Students risk being disenrolled from the university for violating this policy, which also allows other students to report same sex dating to the school. For Orr, this wasn’t something that directly affected her until about halfway through her time there when she came to realize that she was bisexual.


The psychology student grew up in the Mormon Church and completed an 18-month mission trip in Oregon, but things changed when she was honest with herself about her feelings. Orr told TODAY “I started to realize my actions and beliefs were not lining up and there was a lot of preconditioned shame and guilt around it, but I came to the realization that this is who I was and it was beautiful.”

Login • Instagram

BYU’s policy on LGBTQ students is written in its honor code, where showing homosexual inclination is deemed as dishonorable. Students who desire to express who they are in a school environment are not doing so to bring any sort of dishonor, because being a part of the LGBTQ+ community isn’t dishonorable. Being able to show affection to your partner while walking to class or frequenting a campus hangout shouldn’t evoke feelings of fear or shame, but policies such as these cause students to hide their true selves giving them no place to feel truly safe. Private universities and schools are able to set their own policies and it’s typically up to the students and their families to decide if their policies align with what they would like to follow, but it makes you stop to wonder about the kids who don’t feel safe enough to come out at home, which can happen for many reasons.

People who grow up in strictly religious households may hold more shame and fear coupled with a lack of support at home and within their friend group around their sexual orientation. This can lead to depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation, but the fear around coming out may keep them attending institutions that are in direct contrast of who they are as a person. While this doesn’t appear to be Orr’s case, her daring to show an LGBT pride flag while crossing the stage was a clear nod to other students letting them know that they can make it through being authentically themselves.

Orr told TODAY, “I hope that they recognize that the sooner they live their life authentically, the sooner they can tap into true happiness,” she said. “The faster you do the scary thing, the sooner you can be free.” Orr said she hopes that students at the school who are hiding their sexual orientation will feel less alone by seeing her bold act.

If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (273-8255) or text "HOME" to the Crisis Text Line: 741741.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


It's hard to truly describe the amazing bond between dads and their daughters.

Being a dad is an amazing job no matter the gender of the tiny humans we're raising. But there's something unique about the bond between fathers and daughters.

Most dads know what it's like to struggle with braiding hair, but we also know that bonding time provides immense value to our daughters. In fact, studies have shown that women with actively involved fathers are more confident and more successful in school and business.

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

This blind chef wore a body cam to show how she prepares dazzling dishes.

How do blind people cook? This "Masterchef" winner leans into her senses.

Image pulled from YouTube video.

Christine Ha competes on "Masterchef."

This article originally appeared on 05.26.17


There is one question chef Christine Ha fields more than any other.

But it's got nothing to do with being a "Masterchef" champion, New York Times bestselling author, and acclaimed TV host and cooking instructor.

The question: "How do you cook while blind?"

Keep ReadingShow less

Surrendered mama dog reunited with puppies after she refused to leave the corner.

People surrender animals to Humane Societies for all kinds of reasons, but many do it because they don't feel like they can properly care for their animals anymore. It could be that they have to move to a home that doesn't allow pets or they lost a job, making caring for an animal difficult.

Two small dogs were surrendered to Marin Humane Society in Novato, California and the female had recently given birth to puppies. It's not clear if the previous owners felt like they couldn't care for both the older dogs and the puppies so they just kept the puppies, or if something else prompted the drop-off.

Either way, this mama dog was in distress after being left at the shelter without her babies. She refused to leave the corner of the large kennel and just looked so sad. The employees felt for the sweet mama dog and decided to do some detective work to see if they could figure out where the puppies were located.

Keep ReadingShow less

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.

This article originally appeared on 04.22.15


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 01.27.20


From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, the largest complex of Nazi concentration camps. More than four out of five of those people—at least 1.1 million people—were murdered there.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the final prisoners from these camps—7,000 people, most of whom were sick or dying. Those of us with a decent public education are familiar with at least a few names of Nazi extermination facilities—Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen—but these are merely a few of the thousands (yes, thousands) of concentration camps, sub camps, and ghettos spread across Europe where Jews and other targets of Hitler's regime were persecuted, tortured, and killed by the millions.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

What I realized about feminism after my male friend was disgusted by tampons at a party.

"After all these years, my friend has probably forgotten, but I never have."

Photo by Josefin on Unsplash

It’s okay men. You don’t have to be afraid.

This article originally appeared on 08.12.16


Years ago, a friend went to a party, and something bothered him enough to rant to me about it later.

And it bothered me that he was so incensed about it, but I couldn't put my finger on why. It seemed so petty for him to be upset, and even more so for me to be annoyed with him.

Recently, something reminded me of that scenario, and it made more sense. I'll explain.

Keep ReadingShow less