A new study assessing the experiences of gay and former members of the Mormon Church was launched by a Utah State University professor.
Renee Galliher, along with the Brigham Young University emeritus biology professor and chair of the pro-gay Family Fellowship, William Bradshaw, launched the 149-question survey to look at the impact the Mormon Church has had on gay and lesbian members. The study is also being headed out by John Dehlin, a graduate student at USU and the founder of the websites MormonsForMarriage.com and LDSHomosexuality.com.
The survey is anonymous and designed for anyone who has ever been attracted to someone of the same gender and has, at one point, been a member of the Mormon Church.
“The purpose of the study is to look at how people develop a positive or negative identity of themselves within the context of homosexuality and religion. Specifically the Mormon religion,” Galliher said. “There are numerous studies looking into similar subjects, but this is the first to look at the LDS religion specifically.”
The study is not designed to be biased in any way and the results are intended to help everyone develop a sense of understanding of the challenges people can face while dealing with issues of sexuality and religion simultaneously, Galliher said. She has studied and researched issues of sexuality extensively and is a advocate within the LGBT community, Galliher said.
“There are a lot of misconceptions out there about the LGBTQ population, such as they face higher instances of mental disorders because of their sexual orientation,” Galliher said. “We hope to clear up a lot of those misconceptions and aid in disseminating that information to the greater population.”
While the study is academic and the goal is to publish results in a research journal, the participants will be notified of the results, and the Galliher said the organizers of the study hope to give presentations and help everyone interested learn of the results.
“One of the reasons that this team has come together is that we hope this to be a really big impact with very practical and applicable results,” Dehlin said.
The survey does not advocate for or against joining a religion or seeking any religious counseling for gays and lesbians. It merely seeks to understand what people have done in the past and what has worked or hasn’t, Dehlin said.
“One of the things we tried very hard to do was to be as mutually understanding as we could so we could reach out as broad of audience as possible,” Galliher said.
The survey can be accessed through QSaltLake.com.