About 100 protesters showed up at the “Back to School Pride Night” event over the weekend at a public park in Provo. A dozen people dressed up as angels and who were supporting the LGBTQ students stood in a line to block the protesters, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Police broke up a handful of clashes between the two sides.
The confrontation happened a week after BYU banned a fan who yelled racial slurs at a Duke University volleyball player who is black during an August 26 match in Provo.
BYU apologized, but Duke player Rachel Richardson criticized school officials for not reacting quickly enough during the match. The South Carolina women’s basketball team and its coach later canceled a series against BYU over the incident.
BYU is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and does not allow clubs for queer students to meet on campus, according to the Tribune. The school also forbids same-sex romantic partnerships and displays of affection among LGBTQ students.
Maddison Tenney, founder of the RaYnbow Collective and a senior at BYU, said she became concerned when police told her to expect a large crowd of protesters at Saturday’s event, which drew about 300 supporters.
Tenney said members of her group wore angel costumes to replicate the strategy used by friends of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, after protesters shows up at the 1999 trial of two men accused in his killing.