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Readers condemn letter in BYU paper that compared a gay parent to a 'prostitute' or 'serial killer'

Published November 18, 2011 6:57 pm

Diversity • Flier denounces letter in The Daily Universe.
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A letter in Brigham Young University's student paper Thursday comparing a gay parent to a "prostitute" or a "serial killer" prompted outraged readers to print a flier they stuffed inside many copies of Friday's Daily Universe.

The flier criticized The Universe for allowing slurs on same-sex parents. "Gay students are in every classroom, every ward and every apartment complex at BYU and we want to reach out in love to help you better understand."

It went on to say, "The attitude represented by these articles reopens wounds that Christ died to heal. ... The task of any religion is not to teach us who we are entitled to hate, but who we are required to love."

The flap began last week when The Universe published a letter by Alex Hairston discussing the gay couple who had adopted a child on the TV sitcom "Modern Family."

In his letter, Hairston said a Mormon friend thought it would be better for a child to be in foster care or an orphanage than with two fathers, but Hairston wasn't sure.

"Personally, I can't say I'm opposed to a situation where a gay couple raises a child," he wrote, "but that could change if [LDS President Thomas S. Monson] marked it as a practice that should be avoided."

Hairson's letter prompted responses, including one from student Taylor Petty.

"Just as if we wouldn't want a child to grow up with a prostitute for a mother or a serial killer for a father," Petty said in his letter, according to a column by Hunter Schwartz, editor of Student Review, an off-campus newspaper, "we shouldn't accept a lesbian, gay or transgender parental model for young people."

Schwartz critiqued Petty's letter, saying, "Words like that are unproductive, offending those that disagree and failing to bring legitimacy to your argument."

Joel Campbell, a BYU journalism professor and The Universe's managing editor, did not see the letter until late Thursday. When he did, Campbell said Friday, he asked for it to be removed.

"The Daily Universe has removed the letter originally published here after several readers complained about its tone and approach to homosexuality," Campbell wrote in a statement on the paper's website. "The letter published in the Daily Universe did not represent the kind of understanding and respect that should accompany dialog on this issue. We regret that the letter was ever published."

Campbell, a columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune, said the paper is "trying to balance free speech and diversity of opinions in our letters, but this particular letter crossed the line." Students can "engage in a conversation about this issue [homosexuality]," he said, "but without name calling and lack of respect."

BYU has no interest in pursuing or punishing the students who produced or distributed the flier, Campbell said. "We count this as a learning experience." —

Universe flier

O To see a copy of the insert, go to http://bit.ly/sqlD52




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