— sample letter —
Dear Bishop/President ______ and Ward/Stake Leaders,
We are members of the _______Ward and participants with Mormons Building Bridges. We are friends to our LGBTQ/SSA (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Same-sex Attracted) brothers and sisters.
As ward/stake leaders, you have the keys to help families whose child has come out or will come out as LGBTQ/SSA. This is a sensitive subject that could easily destroy families and marginalize the child. Caitlin Ryan, PhD, and Robert Rees, PhD, a former LDS Bishop, developed an evidence-based family education resource for LDS families called Family Acceptance Project Booklet. We are including the online PDF link to this booklet (http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/LDS-booklet ) and also a hard copy of the booklet.
This booklet has been awarded the Gold “Best Practice for Suicide Prevention” seal from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Dr. Ryan received the John E. Fryer Award from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for her major contributions to the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ/SSA people.
About seven percent of our population identify as LGBTQ/SSA. Statistically speaking, if you have 100 children in your congregation’s primary and YM/YW, 5-9 of them may be LGBTQ/SSA. The odds are that at least one of the leaders that I’m mailing this information to will come face-to-face with one of these beautiful kids and their families very soon – if not already. The information provided may help keep these families together and their children thriving.
Currently, there are homeless LDS/LGBTQ/SSA teens who couch surf or live on the streets, kicked out for being LGBTQ/SSA or even just for appearing to be LGBTQ/SSA. Current estimates from homeless youth resources centers are that, on average 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ/SSA and 60% of that number are from LDS homes. Suicide is typically one of the leading causes of death if not the number one cause of death among LDS/LGBTQ/SSA youth.
The official Church website, Mormonsandgays.org states that individuals do not choose to have such attractions and should not be viewed as having a disease or illness. Everything that an LGBTQ/SSA child hears in the church, media, and home about being gay is internalized and will shape his or her future and perception of self. While there may be misunderstandings of what LGBTQ/SSA is or isn’t, Elder Oaks on the Mormonsandgays.org says, “What is changing — and needs to change — is to help Church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere.” Elder Quentin L. Cook says, “As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”
Providing this booklet is our way of “expressing love, compassion and outreach.” We bought _____ copies out of our family budget and would be happy to share more copies with our ward and stake leadership or the booklet can be downloaded from the internet for free as noted above. Thank you for the service you provide in your callings.