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Sam Penrod Reporting Two people were arrested on BYU's campus on Thursday. The two are part of a gay advocacy group which travels to religious universities which, they say, discriminate against homosexuals.
The event was clearly staged for the media, and both the protesters and BYU were well organized for it. In the end, two people were arrested for trespassing after they tried to bring a list of grievances onto campus to give to BYU administrators.
Kourt Osborn and his mother, Carol Allen, walked a box of papers onto BYU property. "In this box is contained submissions from current students and former students about their concerns of the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students at this university," Osborn told KSL. "We are here to deliver it today to make sure their voices are heard."
They were warned to stay away but continued on and were placed under arrest for trespassing.
The group Soulforce returned to BYU for a second year to protest BYU's honor code, which they contend amounts to discrimination. Co-director Haven Herrin said, "There are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students suffering in the closet, and it's our hope to seek some peace and some understanding about who we are as people."
One former BYU student is among the protesters. Matt Kulisch was suspended after he joined the Soulforce protest at BYU last year while he was a student, and he was one of 29 people arrested. "BYU for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is an environment filled with fear, sometimes that fear is below the surface, and sometimes it is very real," Kulisch said.
BYU attempted to minimize the protest turning into a scene. Campus police officers wore suits instead of uniforms, and there were no handcuffs. Those who were arrested were simply placed in a van and driven away. BYU spokesperson Carri Jenkins told KSL, "BYU is a private university. We are open to visitors, we welcome visitors, but there are restrictions, and one of those is that we ask visitors not to stage a demonstration on our campus."
BYU says it enforced policies that apply to any group or organization that attempts to use its campus as a public forum. Soulforce plans a rally at the Kiwanis Park in Provo Thursday night at 5 p.m.