Jeff Benedict is a best-selling non-fiction author, perhaps known best for his coverage of the crimes within the athletic industry for Sports Illustrated. He is also a distinguished professor at Southern Virginia University, a private liberal arts college that embraces the values of the LDS Church and has adopted an honor code similar to Church-run institutions.
In a recent blog post on his official website, Benedict opened up about monthly dinners he holds at his home for LGBT students attending the school. Most are seeking to remain active in their faith while trying to come to terms with their identity. They have had students from the nearby Washington & Lee University and the University of Virginia attend. He discusses the fear and vulnerability these students face and a group of the SVU family, including an administrator and board member, hoping they’ll feel loved. Below is an excerpt:
After each dinner, someone shares an inspirational message. I spoke at our first dinner. Among other things, I talked about some lessons learned from the Salem witch trials. In 1692 the Massachusetts Bay Colony executed fourteen women, five men, and two dogs for witchcraft. Girls as young as five and women as old as 81 were were accused of being witches. I told our dinner guests that all of this hysteria happened for a simple reason: “A set of unanswerable questions met a set of unquestioned answers.”
That’s often how extreme right ends up leading to extreme wrong. I closed by assuring the LGBT students that they were amongst friends.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.