A student at Brigham Young University sewed a Pride flag into her graduation gown to protest the university’s honor code against same-sex romantic relationships. A viral TikTok video shows her revealing the flag to the stadium full of students and families at graduation.
“At BYU, it’s against the honor code to be in a homosexual relationship. If you are discovered to be dating or just holding hands there are severe consequences,” the graduate, Jillian Orr (@jillianoreo), wrote via text overlay on the video.
In 2007, the university updated the language of its honor code, clarifying that the school does not prohibit homosexual behavior, not identity. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the university dropped this section from the honor code in February 2020, leading many LGBTQ students to celebrate its removal. However, the university released a statement in March 2020 from Paul V. Johnson, commissioner of the Church Educational System, clarifying that its policy on same-sex relationships had not changed.
“Same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code,” Johnson wrote.
In her video, Orr, who is bisexual, says students who exhibit same-sex romantic relationships face consequences from the administration, including threats to take away their degree or kick them out of the university.
“Students are afraid to be who they are. So they hide out of fear until they get out,” she wrote via text overlay. Orr then shows a photo of her flashing the Pride flag in her gown to the audience at her graduation ceremony.
“I will not hide. I will be seen. In front of the entire school,” the text overlay reads.
In a follow-up video, Orr says she didn’t transfer to another school after she realized she is bisexual, because many of her credits wouldn’t transfer over.
“I did this knowing I could lose my degree, because I wanted to be seen, and I wanted those who are going through what I went through, to be seen as well,” Orr told Fox 13 News.
Her initial video received over 2.5 million views, and many viewers showed support for Orr in the comments.
“I guarantee you gave several attendees comfort and courage that day,” one user said.
“Not all heroes wear capes… some wear gowns with rainbows,” another joked.
“CHILLS!! You’re an inspiration!!!” a third user said.
The Daily Dot reached out to Orr via Instagram message and Brigham Young University via email.
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