For more than a decade, the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) at SF State University has been studying the impact of family acceptance and rejection on the health, mental health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people and developing research-based tools, resources and interventions to help diverse families support their LGBT children. This includes developing culturally and linguistically appropriate resources to prevent serious negative outcomes like suicide, HIV and homelessness and to promote well-being, and helping families balance deeply held values and beliefs with love for their LGBT children. The first of these faith-based family education resources – Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Latter-day Saint Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Children – is now available via the FAP.
One of the most challenging issues for many families is learning how to support their LGBT children in the context of religious and cultural values. The FAP has been working with families from a wide range of cultural and religious backgrounds to develop a series of family education materials based on FAP’s groundbreaking research which shows that family accepting and rejecting behaviors are linked with both serious health andmental health problems and well-being in young adulthood.
Written by FAP Director Dr. Caitlin Ryan, a clinical social worker with nearly 40 years of research and practice experience on LGBT health and mental health, and Dr. Bob Rees, a former Mormon Bishop who teaches Mormon Studies at Graduate Theological Union, this is the first research-based educational resource to help Mormon families support their LGBT children. As with other family education booklets from the FAP, Supportive Families, Healthy Children has been designated as the 1st “Best Practice” resource for suicide prevention for LGBT people by the national Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention and is the only such resource for Latter-day Saint (Mormon) families.
The Best Practices Registry, coordinated by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), maintains an expert-reviewed compendium of approved “best practices” to prevent suicide that address specific aims of the national suicide prevention plan and have met objective review criteria.
Said Dr. Caitlin Ryan, Director of the FAP, “Many parents and families think they have to choose between a gay child and their deeply held beliefs – a choice no parent should ever have to make. We wrote this booklet to show Mormon families what our compelling research has found – how families react to their LGBT children really matters. This booklet provides critical, specific information on how to support LGBT children and youth, how to build their self-esteem and well-being, reduce their risk for suicide, substance abuse, HIV and homelessness and keep their faith. Our hope is that every Mormon parent, bishop, and religious leader reads it and uses it.”
Dr. Robert Rees, co-author, educator and former Mormon bishop, noted: “Supportive Families, Healthy Children will save lives, keep families together and give Church leaders a resource for helping families support their LGBT sons, daughters and other family members. This booklet and the research that supports it mark the dawning of a brighter day for Latter-day Saint families and congregations.”
The newly-released version of Supportive Families, Healthy Children for Latter-day Saint families is available for download on the FAP website. Printed copies are available for distribution from the FAP in orders of any size. FAP provides guidance and training on using these materials and FAP’s research-based supportive family intervention model and other resources and tools. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain printed versions and for information on consultation and training.