Senior LDS leaders reiterated through a spokesman on Thursday that they expect church members to actively reach out to and care for young Mormon lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
“Every soul is precious to God and to the church and the loss of life to suicide is heartbreaking,” church spokesman Dale Jones said. “Those who are attracted to others of the same sex face particular challenges and pressures in this regard, both inside and outside the church. We mourn with their families and friends when they feel life no longer offers hope. Each congregation should welcome everyone. Leaders and members are taught to follow the example of Jesus Christ and to reach out in an active, caring way to all, especially to youth who feel estranged or isolated. The church has repeatedly stated that those who feel same-sex attraction and yet choose to live the commandments of God can live fulfilling lives as worthy members of the church. We want all to enjoy the blessings and safety offered by embracing the teachings of Jesus Christ and living the principles of His gospel.”
This was in response to a report about suicide deaths among Mormon LGBT people.
“We mourn with their families and friends when they feel life no longer offers hope,” senior church leaders said through a spokesman.
Many individuals both within and outside of the church don’t realize that the church has a website, mormonsandgays.org, designed to encourage parents and families to embrace their LGBT children, brothers and sisters.
As the church’s statement Thursday suggests, suicide prevention experts and gay Mormons said the first way friends and members of a congregation or community can care for LGBT youth is to be supportive at all times, even and especially when you think no gays are within earshot.
The Deseret News also reported on this same issue and did a thorough job of bringing many different perspective into their piece.
The need for constant support
“My experience was that before I came out I’d hear lots of offensive things in church classes,” said Kayden Maxwell, 18, a high school senior in American Fork, Utah, who says his ward has been supportive since he came out. “You need to always assume someone is there who has a gay friend or who is gay themselves.”
Gustav-Wrathall, a gay man who regularly attends an LDS ward in Minnesota said that in his experience, Mormons tend to be on their best behavior when they know an openly gay person is in their midst. The experience likely means they are better informed.
“The sad stories that I’ve heard, the horror stories, even,” Gustav-Wrathall said, “have been reported by people who are not out of the closet in their wards and there’s nobody in their ward who is out. They’re the ones who will report that someone gave a talk that was really painful.”
Generally, he said, hurtful messages come from people who assume people can choose not to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or that being LGBT is the result of sin or insufficient commitment to the gospel.
“When they get messages that this is just because you haven’t tried enough, that is a devastating message,” Gustav-Wrathall said. “Those kinds of messages just fill people with guilt, shame, because most individuals in this situation have been really struggling to overcome it, in a variety of ways. Those are the kinds of messages that can create despair: there’s no hope for me, there’s nothing I can do.”
You can read the rest of the article at the Deseret News