Unprecedented Media Discussion about LGBT Mormon Well-Being, Community and Family in the Wake of the New LDS Policy
Social media response to an article published on Affirmation.org on January 20, 2016 has resulted, in recent weeks, in heightened mainstream media interest in the potential impact, in terms of mental health and well-being of LGBT Mormons, of the LDS Church’s new policy on gay families.
Rather than attempting to discredit anecdotal reports of recent suicides, the Deseret News, the Salt Lake Tribune and KUER each ran stories that acknowledged the seriousness and the complexity of the issue. Rather than scapegoating any one event or factor, they focused on providing information about how families and communities can reach out and build and strengthen the kinds of connections that save lives.
The Deseret News led the story by publishing, on Thursday, January 28, 2016, two articles addressing the issue of suicide among LGBT Mormons:
An in-depth discussion of recently reported suicides, and how communities can work to prevent suicide, “LDS Church leaders mourn reported deaths in Mormon LGBT community“
An article featuring the Family Acceptance Project, “Do’s and don’ts for helping LGBT youth“
As a result of the articles, unprecedented numbers of Deseret News readers have been going to the Family Acceptance Project web site to download copies of “Supportive Families, Healthy Children,” a brochure specifically geared to LDS families with LGBT youth.
The Salt Lake Tribune published an article the same day, “Suicide fears, if not actual suicides, rise in wake of Mormon same-sex policy“. On Saturday, January 30, 2016, a Salt Lake Tribune op ed by Judith Mehr was published on the new LDS policy: “As LDS grapple with handbook change, know that God loves his gay children”
On Sunday, January 31, 2016, three op eds were published in the Deseret News discussing the new LDS policy on gay families:
By John Gustav-Wrathall, “Show an increase of love“
By Linda & Richard Eyre, “On understanding each other and the LDS Handbook“
By Natalie Gochnour, “Mourn with those who mourn“
On Monday, February 1, 2016, “Trib Talk” with Jennifer Napier-Pierce featured a panel including Marian Edmonds Allen, Lisa Tensmeyer-Hansen and Roni Jo Draper, who discussed “Suicide in the wake of LDS Church’s policy on gay couples.”
On Tuesday, February 2, 2016, RadioWest (KUER) broadcast a discussion between Doug Fabrizio, John Gustav-Wrathall, Kendall Wilcox and Phil Rogers on “LGBT Suicide and the LDS Church.”
The focus in the op eds and in the live discussions was on the importance of combatting isolation and fostering supportive community.