This is an updated position from the one MMHA took on 11/6/2015 regarding the LDS policy changes affecting LGBTQ members and their families.
The MMHA Board of Directors is deeply concerned regarding recent policy changes to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops. These changes guide ecclesiastical leaders to label and discipline people in same-sex marriages as apostates and withhold the faith’s ordinances to the children found in such unions until the age of eighteen. Affected children could then only be eligible for full fellowship within the church if they move out of their homes, disavow their parents’ marital relationship and be approved by a member of the office of the First Presidency.
We believe these changes hold harmful implications for LDS LGBTQ members and their families. In spite of the ongoing efforts of the LDS church to stop marriage parity since the 1990’s, many LDS LGBTQ members have tried to stay engaged in their faith. This has been extremely difficult for these members and their families, as the only option the Church has allowed for an LGBTQ member to be considered worthy to fully participate in religious practice is physical and emotional celibacy.
Historically, the LDS church endorsed reparative therapies and other strategies whereby many members unsuccessfully tried to change their sexual orientation. With the backdrop of these practices and policies, the LDS Church has not been a safe haven for LGBTQ members, many of whom have suffered physically, emotionally and spiritually. Through the years the church has also witnessed high rates of suicide and homelessness among their LGBTQ youth. As a result of the recent policy changes, our concern for the well-being of LGBTQ members and their children and families is exacerbated.
The MMHA Board of Directors encourages both general and local leaders to be mindful and sensitive to the needs of LGBTQ members and their families. We encourage clinical and educator members of MMHA to prepare themselves to be spokespersons who advocate for LDS LBGTQ mental health. We encourage all mental health providers who are working with the LDS population to be aware of these issues and how they may impact a client’s mental health and well-being.
We encourage the general LDS membership to be loving, kind and sensitive to the needs of LGBTQ members (remembering that many are closeted) as they discuss these issues in their congregations, on-line communities and families. As with leaders, we should all familiarize ourselves with warning signs of suicide and suicide prevention resources.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
February 19, 2016