The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) apologized on Monday for a skit during the halftime of the Nov. 26 football game against Brigham Young University (BYU) which depicted a lesbian wedding.
The skit, called “gay chicken,” depicted two women getting married “for time and all eternity” and then being told to “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” The same phrases are used during the marriage sealing ceremonies within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the sponsor of BYU.
Members of band student leadership wrote that they issued the apology following “Acts of Intolerance complaints filed to the University” for using “phrases from scripture held sacred by the LDS community,” in a statement to The Daily.
The Band leadership wrote that they were “unaware that specific phrases used in the show are a part of the Sealing ceremony sacred to the LDS community,” and “deeply regret the impact this action had.”
However, the Band’s student leadership said that they do not regret the Band’s choice of skit topic and “will forever stand against homophobia.”
“We are appalled by the homophobic responses to our show, and we will continue to call out bigotry and provide a safe space for queer people and allies,” they wrote.
Band leadership and the University both wrote that they would work together to adjust halftime performance review and approval processes “in hopes of ensuring that outcomes such as this misuse of religious text do not occur again.”
“The [LSJUMB] has a long history of lighthearted and satirical halftime performances,” a Stanford Athletics spokesperson wrote in a statement to The Daily. “Unfortunately, some of the language that was used in Saturday’s halftime show did not reflect Stanford University’s values of religious freedom and diversity, inclusion and belonging. The LSJUMB deeply regrets that this performance caused offense to spectators.”
Stanford’s athletic director apologized to BYU in 2004 for the Band’s halftime show portraying “polygamy” with five dancers wearing wedding veils.
“I don’t know what the fuss is about,” said Buddy Noorlander ’24, who has been an active member of the Church for his whole life and is a member of Stanford’s Latter-day Saints Student Association (LDSSA). “The gripes about the halftime show from a few members seem to run contrary to how even the church itself responds to things like this.”
Noorlander said that the Latter-day Saints community at Stanford is generally more “open-minded” and accepting of LGBT rights than the more conservative institution of the Church. Still, he said that the Church’s stance is usually “to not take offense at things like this,” bringing up that they famously bought ads in the playbill of the satirical musical “The Book of Mormon.”
Third-year Ph.D. student in political science Sierra Davis Thomander, who is also an active member of the Church and who received her bachelor’s degree from BYU, said she was at Saturday’s game with her husband. While she said she “knew what they were trying to do,” it didn’t strike her as “that bad.”
Thomander brought up that the Church had expressed support as an institution for the Respect for Marriage Act and speculated that the more sensitive part of the joke was regarding the sealing practices.
“If anyone did this to certain religious groups, there would have been a lot less support for it,” Thomander said. “If you believe in the principle of don’t make fun of people’s religions, maybe you just don’t.”
Jake Griffin ’25, a partially active member of the Church, said that while he also did not feel personally offended by the skit, he felt as though the idea of making fun of another religion’s practices didn’t represent Stanford ideals of unity and inclusion.
“Isolating LDS individuals and laughing at them for their beliefs is an ineffective method of change and destroys any mutual respect I would hope to see between religious and non-religious students,” Griffin said.
This article has been updated to specify BYU’s policy towards homosexual behavior. This article has also been updated to reflect AP Stylebook guidance on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Daily regrets these errors.