New pamphlet seeks to help Mormon parents with gay kids

Offering more support to queer children can help reduce the risk of suicide, depression and drug use, among myriad other factors, according to researchers who are studying Mormon families with gay children. The Family Acceptance Project, a research and advocacy group of San Francisco State University, released a pamphlet helping Mormon parents understand and accept lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children.

Although Mormon doctrine condemns homosexuality, there are ways to help children grow in a supportive and non-threatening atmosphere, the pamphlet states.

LGBT youth with unsupportive parents are more than eight times as likely to attempt suicide, more than three times as likely to use illegal drugs, more than six times as likely to deal with depression and more than three times as likely to be at high risk for HIV.

The booklet, written by Caitlin Ryan, a researcher, and Robert Rees, a former Mormon bishop, focuses on how parents can respond to a gay or transgender child with love and support while still disapproving of the behavior.

“While accepting behaviors promote overall health and significantly help reduce health risks for LGBT youth, parents and caregivers who are capable of even a little change—being a little less rejecting and a little more supportive—can make an important difference in reducing their adolescent’s risk for serious health problems, including suicide and HIV,” the booklet reads.

Other tips for parents include avoiding verbal harassment, exclusion from family activities, blocking access to gay friends and events and blaming them if they are mistreated. Also, parents should listen respectfully, express affection, be an advocate for the child when he or she is mistreated and welcome gay friends in the home.

The booklet is distributed online at familyproject.sfsu.edu and through other grass-roots organizations, such as Family Fellowship. The pamphlet quotes Mormon authorities and is written in such a way that many members of the church will be familiar with the vernacular and tone.

Mormon church officials have declined to comment on the pamphlet but it will not be distributed through official church channels.

To download the booklet and for more information, go to familyproject.sfsu.edu.

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