August 28, 2017

Mormons should be required to NOT reject their gay children before being allowed into temples

Gay teens are being rejected in Utah and the results are deadly.

I just got this newspaper out of the mailbox. It's The Crossroads Journal, a newspaper with information about Lehi, Utah and the surrounding cities. As the article title says, suicide is the leading cause of death for teens in Utah. 

Suicide is definitely a big deal. I've never heard anybody make light of the topic or not take it seriously. This newspaper article mentions a go-fund-me page for a non-profit organization called The Alive Movement, a monthly public meeting held by the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition, and a website,, that has resources and phone numbers for anyone who needs help. It's good to see that people are aware of this issue and that they are trying to make changes.

The reason I'm writing this is that I think there are still parts of this message that are not getting fully transmitted. Take this paragraph from the article, for example:

"Gay and transgender teens who were highly rejected by their parents and caregivers were more than 8 times as likely to attempt suicide compared with gay and trans gender teens who were not at all or only rejected a little by the same."

Most people will probably miss this paragraph because it's at the end of an article that's on the very last page of a local newspaper.

The part about rejected gay and trans teens being 8 times more likely to commit suicide is the part that I think needs to be brought into the spotlight. I think there are some major cultural changes in Utah that need to happen, and to get to the bottom of why gay teens are being rejected in Utah we need to look at the major driver of culture in Utah: Mormonism.

The Mormon church needs to stop creating policies that are hateful towards gay people. And it's not just their policies. Even their careful PR interviews can be cruel:

"I can also imagine some circumstances in which it might be possible to say, ‘Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy house guest. Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your “partnership.” - Dallin Oaks, 2006

That kind of rejection needs to stop.

The November 2015 policy that equates the punishments for being gay with the same punishments that murderers receive needs to be removed.

I think if the Mormon church wanted to even more specifically address the problem of teen suicide through policy change, they could make it so that Mormons be required to NOT reject their gay children before being allowed into temples. There is an explicit temple recommend question about tithing. There is an explicit question asking about financial obligations to former spouse or children. I think there should be something explicit in the temple recommend interview about whether or not parents are showing love and acceptance to their gay children.

It's good to see an article like this. It's good to see that there are resources available to help the people who are struggling right now.

But there's still so far to go. This needs to be a cultural change, and the Mormon church has a HUGE influence on the culture in Utah.

This topic needs to get out of the back pages of a little newspaper and into the thousands of chapels and bishop's offices where gay Mormon teens are struggling to fit into a culture that is so openly hostile towards them and causes their families to reject them. This topic needs to make its way into church policies so that loving connections can replace deadly rejections.

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