Imagine telling a 13-year-old child, just coming to understand that his or her sexual orientation is different from that of peers and siblings, that there is something terrible and awful about the very person they were created to be – that this thing is so ugly and bad that they will never be treated with the same dignity and respect which others receive.
More than a million LGBT teens today are suffering debilitating depression because families, pastors, peers and elected officials promote a societal climate of rejection and condemnation toward them. Suicide rates amongst LGBT youth are four times higher than heterosexual youth. It truly is a national disgrace. It truly is shameful that this is still going on in America.
There is one place that we must not allow it to continue any longer – our families. Read more.
To Better Understand the Harm
The book, CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay In America, has been an incredibly effective tool in bringing understanding about the harm caused to gay and lesbian youth and their families when certain religious teaching is misused to justify stigma and hostility.
The book has been used extensively as a focal point of community events across the country in which people learn about the immensely harmful effect of placing a religious and moral tamp of disapproval on the lives of gay and lesbian youth – and the trauma that can cause families.
The book was the focal point of one such community dialogue hosted by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and more than 1,500 community residents – many who had never attended an event that addressed religion and sexual orientation. That one event resulted in an editorial from the local conservative newspaper endorsing gay and lesbian people serving openly in the military; led to discussions with the pastor of an anti-gay marriage organization, who later invited the pastor of an affirming church to lead a Sunday service at his church; compelled a local physician who had never been involved in the LGBT community to begin a support group for gay youth in his community; and more.
That was just one event of many similar events.
The book has been credited by individuals who found understanding and inspiration in its pages.
Singer, songwriter and Country Music Star Chely Wright has said the book changed her life.
This is the type impact that the book CRISIS is having on the lives of gay and lesbian individuals and families.
Whether the reader is a gay or lesbian youth seeking encouragement and affirmation or parents and ministers seeking greater understanding, the book continues to transform lives.
You can find better understanding as a parent or family member or perhaps you know someone who needs such understanding.
Read this review. by evangelical pastor and Christian ethicist Dr. David Gushee.
Education materials to help Mormon
families support their LGBT Children
For more than a decade, the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) at SF State University has been studying the impact of family acceptance and rejection on the health, mental health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people and developing research-based tools, resources and interventions to help diverse families support their LGBT children.
This includes developing culturally and linguistically appropriate resources to prevent serious negative outcomes like suicide, HIV and homelessness and to promote well-being, and helping families balance deeply held values and beliefs with love for their LGBT children. The first of these faith-based family education resources – Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Latter-day Saint Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Children – was published in June 2012 by the Family Acceptance Project. It’s available at the Family Acceptance Project website.
One of the most challenging issues for many families is learning how to support their LGBT children in the context of religious and cultural values. The Family Acceptance Project has been working with families from a wide range of cultural and religious backgrounds to develop a series of family education materials based on FAP’s groundbreaking research, which shows that family accepting and rejecting behaviors are linked with both serious health and mental health problems and well-being in young adulthood. Read more.
If I Were Your Daughter
When Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren in a televised interview compared a person’s sexual orientation to pedophilia, Author Tracy Zoller penned a letter to Warren.
The harm of trying to change who you are
At ex-gay meetings, the leaders would say our goal was “holiness, not heterosexuality,” but now I know they really didn’t separate the two. I began to think that the only way I could resolve my crisis was either to write off God or be straight. Since my faith was so important to me, I chose the latter. I would go to the ex-gay meetings for a while, start feeling defeated because I wasn’t getting “healed,” and go home and cut myself. Then I would stop going to the meetings, be isolated in my depression—but I would stop cutting myself. I told the ministry leaders this. They said the reason I didn’t cut myself when I skipped meetings was because then my spirit wasn’t fighting my flesh; my faith was no longer standing strong against my desires. They said even though cutting wasn’t good, it was a positive sign that I was fighting my desires.
Jared Horsford, Texas
The counselor was a leader of one of the well-known “ex-gay pray yourself straight” ministries. He began by telling me the reason I was gay was because
I had an overpowering mother and no strong father figure. That should have been my first red flag. My father did work on the road, but he was still a big part of my life; and my mother had not been very involved until I was in high school. But since the only people I had shared my struggle with were the leader of this ex-gay ministry and my pastor friend, I had no one to discuss my concerns with.
The counselor said I’d need to attend a weekly group meeting and a monthly one-on-one session for about a year and a half to be “cured.” I went to the group meeting twice but felt very uncomfortable because it consisted of participants talking only about whom they had hooked up with over the past week, and the counselor asking each of us why we weren’t dating a woman yet. At my one-on-one session, I told the counselor I wouldn’t go to future group meetings and explained why. He didn’t say a word. Over two years, I paid the ministry fifty dollars a month, sometimes a hundred dollars a month, in hopes of becoming “normal.”
I soon found myself even more depressed because I wasn’t changing—and even more isolated.
Jarrod Parker, South Carolina
Now we’d like to share a note from a California father.
I and my wife are parents of a gay son (age 26 now) who came out in 2009. We are Christians and my son is a faithful Christian and attends church regularly before and after he came out. He even started a Bible study in downtown Los Angeles for GLBT people.
My wife and I had a great challenge cast on us by this event. The first thing we did was tell our son we love him and are with him in all his new adventures. It was hard at first and we had to make many decisions concerning the rest of our family members of in-laws and the such. Our first thing we did was to go to the Bible and study what it really says about homosexuals. We also read books after books by straight and gay authors regarding this subject. We have studied for the last three years on this subject.
You know, it really doesn’t mean much until it comes to your house which it did. I always flowed with the churches on what they said and thought. I regret now that I listened to the pastors and christians without really doing research on my own.
The contrast between the pain and torment described by the two Crisis book contributors and the emotional and psychological well-being afforded this son by his father’s uplifting embrace is at the heart of the issue for California lawmakers. It is an opportunity that not only will protect gay and lesbian youth but entire families from the emotional, psychological and spiritual carnage from the very real harm of this so-called therapeutic practice. We hope California’s legislators will choose to no longer allow the anti-gay reparative therapy industry to place youth and their families in harm’s way.