Results from the “Exploration of Experiences of and Resources for Same-sex Attracted Latter-day Saints” Study

LGBTStudy2

 

To whom it may concern,

In 2011 a study entitled “Exploration of Experiences of and Resources for Same-sex Attracted Latter-day Saints” was conducted in association with Utah State University.

In an effort to keep the public informed about the results of our study, we would like to provide the following:

We are very pleased with the reception this study has received in the scientific community to date – and see it as an important validation both of our methodology, and of the quality of your responses.  In addition, we believe that there is much work yet to do, including the following:

  • We continue to analyze and publicize additional findings from this study.  You can expect more publications from our study in the months and years ahead.
  • As only a portion of our data has been analyzed for publication, we are willing to consider collaborating with other researchers regarding both our dataset, and future studies.
  • We have begun to disseminate the findings from this study through various outlets, and we hope that there will be many opportunities ahead to share these findings with LGBT Mormons and former Mormons, mental health professionals, church leaders, community members, and family/friends of LGBT Mormons.
  • If you are aware of any venues (e.g., media outlets, conferences, professional organizations, community events, LDS church leaders at the corporate or local levels) wherein we can share our findings, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.  We would love to help educate and disseminate this information whenever possible.

To close, we cannot adequately express how grateful we are for everyone who has supported this study. We believe that it has and will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of LGBT Mormons and former Mormons worldwide.  We also believe that other religious traditions, and the scientific community as a whole, will benefit from the findings of this work for years to come.

We are hopeful that you are pleased with the results of the study and with our efforts, and we eagerly look forward to sharing/discussing this research in the months and years ahead.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions, concerns, or opportunities that you may have.

To email us, please use the following email address: research@ldshomosexuality.org.

Sincerely,

John Dehlin, Ph.D.
Renee Galliher, Ph.D.
William Bradshaw, Ph.D.
Katie Crowell, Ph.D.

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Publication Summaries

  1. Citation: John P. Dehlin, Renee V. Galliher, William S. Bradshaw, Daniel C. Hyde, and Katherine A. Crowell. 2015.  Sexual orientation change efforts among current or former LDS church members.  Journal of Counseling Psychology.  62 (2), 95-105, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cou0000011.

    Brief Explanation of Study: This paper examined efforts of our participants to cope with their LGBTQ orientations.  They engaged in a wide range of intervention methods for long periods of time.  The study is notable for its documentation of private efforts along with professional and ecclesiastical counseling.  The broad conclusion is that sexual orientation is unlikely to change due to these efforts.

    Abstract: This study examined sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) by 1,612 individuals who are current or former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Data were obtained through a comprehensive online survey from both quantitative items and open-ended written responses. A minimum of 73% of men and 43% of women in this sample attempted sexual orientation change, usually through multiple methods and across many years (on average). Developmental factors associated with attempts at sexual orientation change included higher levels of early religious orthodoxy (for all) and less supportive families and communities (for men only). Among women, those who identified as lesbian and who reported higher Kinsey attraction scores were more likely to have sought change. Of the nine different methods surveyed, private and religious change methods (compared to therapist-led or group-based efforts) were the most common, started earlier, exercised for longer periods, and reported to be the most damaging and least effective. When sexual orientation change was identified as a goal, reported effectiveness was lower for almost all of the methods. While some beneficial SOCE outcomes (such as acceptance of same-sex attractions and reduction in depression and anxiety) were reported, the overall results support the conclusion that sexual orientation is highly resistant to explicit attempts at change, and that SOCE are overwhelmingly reported to be either ineffective or damaging by participants.

  2. Citation: Kate Bradshaw, John P. Dehlin, Katherine A. Crowell, Renee V. Galliher, and William S. Bradshaw.  2015.  Sexual orientation change efforts through psychotherapy for LGBQ individuals affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy41 (1), 391-412.  DOI. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0092623X.2014.915907.

    Brief Explanation of Study: This paper also addresses the issue of the possibility of orientation change, but focuses narrowly on professional efforts through psychotherapy.  One important feature is the descriptions of the 4 women and 18 men (less than 4% of the total respondents) who claimed change had occurred.  Many of the claims specified an accommodation to being gay, not an alteration of core erotic feeling.  Most of these persons positioned themselves in the bisexual range of the spectrum.

    Abstract: This study reports the results of a comprehensive online survey of 1,612 current or former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) many of whom engaged in psychotherapy in an effort to cope with (understand, accept, or change) their same-sex attractions. Data obtained from written and quantitative responses showed that therapy was initiated over a very wide age range and continued for many years.  However, counseling was largely ineffective; less than 4% reported any modification of core same-sex erotic attraction. Moreover, 42% reported that their change-oriented therapy was “not at all effective,” and 37% found it to be moderately to severely harmful. In contrast, affirming psychotherapeutic strategies were often found to be beneficial in reducing depression, increasing self-esteem, and improving family and other relationships. Our data suggest that the very low likelihood of a modification of sexual orientation and the ambiguous nature of any such change should be important considerations for highly religious sexual minority individuals considering reorientation therapy.

  3. Citation: John P. Dehlin, Renee V. Galliher, William S. Bradshaw, and Katherine A. Crowell.  2014.  Psychosocial correlates of religious approaches to same-sex attraction:  A Mormon perspective.  Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, 18: 284-311.  DOI:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19359705.2014.912970

    Brief Explanation of Study: This paper demonstrates that many LGBTQ persons who remain affiliated with the Church experience tension and conflict that results in lower measures of mental health.   The divorce rate for those in mixed-orientation marriage approaches 70%.

    Abstract: This study examined the psychosocial correlates of following various church-based approaches for dealing with same-sex attraction, based on a large sample (1,612) of same-sex attracted current and former LDS church members (Mormons). Overall, this study found that biologically-based views about the etiology of same-sex attraction (vs. psychosocial views), LDS church disaffiliation (vs. activity), sexual activity (vs. celibacy), and legal same-sex marriage (vs. remaining single or mixed-orientation marriage) were all associated with significantly lower levels of internalized homophobia, sexual identity distress, depression, and higher levels of self-esteem and quality of life.  Divorce rates for mixed-orientation marriages were estimated at 69%.

  4. Citation: Katherine A. Crowell, Renee V. Galliher, John P. Dehlin, and William S. Bradshaw.    Specific aspects of minority stress associated with depression among LDS-affiliated non-heterosexual adults.  2014.  Journal of Homosexuality62 (2), 242-267.   DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2014.969611

    Brief Explanation of Study: With regard to sources of stress, men exhibited higher levels of internalized homophobia; women exhibited higher levels of identity confusion.  Processes underlying depression, however, do not differ between the sexes.  Bisexual individuals experience greater stress than those exclusively homosexual, but do not exhibit differences in depression.  Active LDS have higher depression scores than those who have disengaged from the Church.  The need for acceptance is the greatest predictor of depression.  For many active LDS, their Mormon identity is of greater importance than their sexual identity.

    Abstract: A nation-wide sample of 634 non-heterosexual adults (ages 18-33), who had been affiliated with LDS Church (Mormon) at some point in their lifetime, were surveyed to examine how specific aspects of minority stress are individually and collectively  associated with depression, and how such associations differ across gender, sexual orientation, and level of affiliation with the LDS Church.  All minority stress factors were individual predictive of depression, and did not differ across gender or sexual orientation subgroups, however, did differ with regard to current LDS status.  Additionally, need for others acceptance is found to be the strongest predictor of depression.

  5. Citation: John P. Dehlin, Renee V. Galliher, William S. Bradshaw, and Katherine A. Crowell. 2015.  Navigating Sexual and Religious Identity Conflict: A Mormon Perspective.  Identity:  An International Journal of Theory and Research15, 1-22.  DOI:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15283488.2014.989440.

    Brief Explanation of Study: The majority of this sample reject their LDS identity or compartmentalize their religious and sexual identities.  Rejecting one’s LGBT identity or compartmentalizing leads to lower psychosocial health and quality of life scores.  For those on the same-sex end of the Kinsey scale continuum for attraction (5-6), the failure to alter core erotic feeling can have highly negative consequences for feelings of identity, self-esteem, and the maintenance of religious faith. Relief from this internal conflict is often achieved through disassociation from the LDS church. Those who identify as bisexual (or are near the heterosexual end of the scale) feel less need to seek affirmation from deity, and find a greater range of options for accommodation, including heterosexual marriage.

    Abstract: This study examined navigation of sexual and religious identity conflict among 1,493 same-sex attracted current or former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Participants were classified into four groups: (a) rejected a lesbian, gay, or bisexual identity (5.5%), (b) compartmentalized sexual and religious identities (37.2%), (c) rejected religious identity (53%), and (d) integrated religious and sexual identities (4.4%). Systematic differences emerged among the groups in sexual identity development histories, developmental milestones, relationship experiences, religious engagement, and psychosocial health. Findings suggest that rejection or compartmentalization of sexual identity may be difficult to sustain over time and likely comes at a significant psychosocial cost. Integration of identities may be equally difficult to achieve, and appears to be associated with optimal outcomes.

  6. Citation: William S. Bradshaw, Tim B. Heaton, Ellen Decoo, John P. Dehlin, Renee V. Galliher, and Katherine A. Crowell.  2015.  Religious Experience of GBTQ Mormon Males.  Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.  54 (2), 311-329.  DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jssr.12181

    Brief Explanation of Study: This paper demonstrates that continued affiliation with the LDS Church is best predicted by the intrinsic nature of one’s orientation, as reflected by a bisexual position on the Kinsey Scale.  It confirms the heterogeneity of the gay population.  GBTQ LDS males have exhibited extremely high levels of doctrinal belief and religious devotion through adolescence and into young adulthood.  The failure to change orientation in the face of religious expectations for such an outcome has a strong negative impact on individual feelings of self-worth, trust in the church, and faith in God.

    Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between sexual orientation and religious experience of men from early adolescence to adulthood.  Data have been obtained from an online survey of 1042 males who were part of a larger sample of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning  (LGBTQ) persons who are current or former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, Mormon).  Early religious experience was essentially identical to that of heterosexuals.  But the gap between religious norms and experience widened as these men moved through early and mid-adulthood.  Those who married did so at a later age, and experienced a high rate of divorce.  Continued participation, integration and conformity to LDS ideals, was not attributable to faith in, or a departure from, fundamental doctrinal belief.  Instead, the responsible variable was sexual orientation, measured by the Kinsey Scale scores across behavior, attraction, and identity.  For those near the exclusively homosexual end of the spectrum, the failure to change sexual orientation after intense effort over many years resulted in loss of belonging, belief, and participation, along with increased negative emotions and a sense of mistreatment.

  7. Citation: McKay S. Mattingly, Renee V. Galliher, John P. Dehlin, Katherine A. Crowell, and William S. Bradshaw.  A Mixed Methods Analysis of the Family Support Experiences of GLBTQ Latter Day Saints.  Journal of GLBT Family Studies.  Pp. 1-24. Published 30 Dec. 2015, online.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1550428x.2015.1085345.

    Brief Explanation of Study: The focus of this report is support or rejection of LGBTQ individuals ages 18-30 by their family members.  The data show relatively low levels of support for diversity generally, and even lower support for non-heterosexuals in the family.  Positive responses were related to stronger measures of psychosocial health for men.  The descriptions provided of coming out experiences and family reactions have been catalogued along a continuum from hostility to affirmation.

    Abstract: A burgeoning vein of research assesses links between familial support and psychosocial health among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (GLBTQ) individuals.  This study is a cross-sectional, multi-method survey that examined these associations in highly religious families. Participants were 587 individuals who identified as GLBTQ, were affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), and were between the ages of 18 and 30. Reports of early support from families were significantly associated with various measures of psychosocial health, more consistently for men than women. In addition, participants provided written narratives in response to an open-ended question asking about the reactions of their parents, family members, and faith community when they disclosed their non-heterosexual orientation. Analyses yielded a continuum of reactions, 1) positive or affirming 2) a conditionally positive response 3) avoidance and/or lack of knowledge 4) distress and guilt and 5) anger or hostility. Within the non-affirming range of responses, sub-themes emerged related to specific patterns of condemnation of the person’s non-heterosexual identity, and coercion to change sexual orientation. Participants own words are used to provide depth to the observed themes.

  8. Citation: Katherine A. Crowell , Renee V. Galliher, John P. Dehlin, and William S. Bradshaw.  (2015).  The Positive Aspects of Non-heterosexuality: A Quantitative Assessment Evaluated among Current or Previously Affiliated Latter-Day Saints.  Submitted to  Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health.

    Abstract: Consistent with the recent shifting trend towards resiliency-focused research with non-heterosexual populations, a new quantitative instrument was developed and psychometrically evaluated to assess the socio-emotional benefits or positive aspects of non-heterosexuality.  Measure items were generated by adapting common themes that emerged in Riggle et al. (2008) and Rostosky et al.’s (2010) qualitative research into quantitative items aimed at capturing similar attitudes or experiences. The Positive Aspects of Nonheterosexuality Questionnaire (PANQ) demonstrated adequate internal consistency across gender and non-heterosexual sexual orientation groups. Bivariate correlations suggested that the PANQ was positively associated with psychosocial health and negatively associated with sexual identity distress measures.  Study findings support the use of the PANQ as a brief quantitative method to assess perceived positive aspects of non-heterosexuality as an aspect of resiliency.

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