Mormon Beard Ban: BYU Students Launch Fierce Protest Over Outdated Policy

A Mormon beard ban is in effect at Brigham Young University, but many LDS students are not happy and want the outdated dress-code at BYU to change.

One argument in the university beard protest in favor of ending the rules prohibiting facial hair is that the school’s founder — the second president appointed to lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — proudly wore a beard during his leadership.

On Friday, a procession of about 50 students made their way from the Provo City Library as part of the “Bike for Beards” protest on BYU’s campus. And while the majority were on bicycles, others arrived and participated on roller blades, skateboards and by foot. And it was evident they all shared one thing in common: the longstanding ban on beards for Mormon men needed a thorough shaving and makeover.

Shane Pittson is credited with organizing Friday’s protest. The Brigham Young student, 23, says he, like many other students in the LDS community enjoy the school and its rich history. However, Pittson is of the belief that the school, deeply rooted in Mormonism, has to rethink its policy on facial hair, namely beards.

And while the students’ protest against the Mormon beard ban didn’t fall on deaf ears, it’s important that administrators made attempts to put the matter in perspective.

Carri Jenkins, a spokesperson representing the university, spoke to reporters about the matter. She pointed out that the school’s dress code and policy regarding grooming are provided on the first day of every school session, especially for incoming freshmen.

The ban on beards, according to Jenkins, was instituted over four decades ago. And to contrast how times have changed based on peer and cohort social norms, the Mormon students created the rule, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

“It’s nothing against beards. It’s just how we choose to represent ourselves at the university.”

Pittson and others agree that, like anything else, rules and norms created in one era are not necessarily applicable in another. Today, Mormon practitioners are more progressive and tolerant than their predecessors.

And for added irony, many Mormon leaders, even Brigham Young himself, wore beards as they matured.

It’s unknown if the protest will achieve its stated goals to lift the Mormon beard ban. But like anything else, change, as stressful as it is at times, is inevitable.

Do you believe conservative schools like the LDS-owned university should lift bans that are considered restrictive today?

[Image via: CBS Local]