Statement on Changes Announced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Concerning LGBTQ+ members, stating that
- "...children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may be baptized without First Presidency approval if the custodial parents give permission for the baptism and understand both the doctrine that a baptized child will be taught and the covenants he or she will be expected to make."
- "A nonmember parent or parents (including LGBT parents) can request that their baby be blessed..."
- "...same-gender marriage by a member will not be treated as apostasy for purposes of Church discipline."
The Mormon Mental Health Association (MMHA) commends the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) in reversing the damaging policy excluding children of LGBTQ+ parents from baptism and other blessings of membership, and stating those in same-sex marriage are in apostasy deserving of church discipline. This is a small but significant move in recognizing the harm that LGBTQ+ members have experienced since November 2015. We encourage the leadership to become inclusive and extend full fellowship of all people without prejudice regardless of sexual orientation.
We support the statement made by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, “There’s still work to do but this policy reversal is a very welcome change that moves the church closer to a day where LGBTQ Mormons can see themselves affirmed and included within their faith community.” We also want to recognize the many efforts of the organization Affirmation in supporting LGBTQ+ members and their families. We support their response statement to this change.
This news will result in a variety of responses, especially from the LGBTQ+ members and their families who have been directly affected by the original policies. This is especially the case if there was a related suicide, divorce, excommunication or other form of discipline, custodial issue, etc. We encourage patience and listening ears from ecclesiastical leaders and ward members for those who are trying to make sense of this announcement.
The MMHA, in this time of reappraisal, encourages local authorities and church leaders to refer their members who are affected or will respond to this change to trained healthcare providers who are affirming and ethical in their treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals. Help from appropriately trained professionals is best practice.
We further encourage ward members, neighbors and family of members who experience suicidal thoughts or debilitating despair due to this policy and its reversal to contact hotlines and local hospitals or community behavioral health centers. We note that science repeatedly shows that supportive parents, adults (friends and colleagues) and communities can help those triggered, confused or hurt negotiate and manage this period (see the Family Acceptance Project).
The MMHA encourages healthcare professionals treating those within the LDS/Mormon population to be conscientious of clients affected by these policy changes. Manifestations of emerging crises, of renewed depression or triggered trauma from this announcement might display within coming days and weeks. Continuous assessment for disruptions in emotion and behaviors, away from pre-announcement status, should be explored.
MMHA offers resources and information for all people across the faith spectrum. We embrace evidence based interventions that respect the values and belief systems of those seeking treatment.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
April 5, 2019