Photo Exhibit Put Back Up at BYU

Portraits of gay Brigham Young University students taken by photography major for a class project are back up at the school’s fine arts building after school officials removed the display.

Senior Michael Wiltbank of Eagar, Ariz., photographed students who said they were gay, then paired them with portraits of friends or family members who supported them.

The display debuted with other class projects in the Harris Fine Arts Center on Dec. 1. It was removed on Dec. 5 and the exhibit was rearranged.

BYU spokesman Michael Smart said a miscommunication between administrators in the College of Fine Arts and Communication led to the removal.

“When the action became apparent after the weekend, college administrators reviewed the decision,” Smart said. “Because the project does not violate BYU’s honor code, the project was rehung Tuesday afternoon.”

Wiltbank’s artist statement about the photos said he hoped “this body of work can be a vehicle for tolerance, support, love and change.”

He said he welcomed the restoration of his work.

“I feel great about it,” he said. “It’s admirable of them to do that. While it was frustrating it was taken down, I’m impressed they put it back up.”

BYU is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The school admits gay students who sign the school’s honor code, which prohibits sex outside of marriage.

“One’s stated same-sex gender attraction is not an honor code issue,” Smart said. “Homosexual behavior is a violation of the honor code.”

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