Exploration of Familial Support Themes: Same-Sex Attracted Latter Day Saints


McKay Mattingly

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USU Student Showcase

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There have been several research studies on the effects of familial support on psychosocial health. A large portion of that research has looked at how familial support affects the psychosocial health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals. It is widely understood that family influence is central in LGBT identity development. Our study was a cross-sectional, multi-method survey that applied these same questions and concepts in highly religious families to see if there would be similar outcomes. The participants were taken from a larger study sample of 1,612 individuals who filled out an online survey. The criterion for inclusion in our study was that they had to A) identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, B) have some affiliation with the LDS church and C) be between the ages of 18-30 (n = 587). 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. Responses were coded for the quality and content of family reactions. Analyses yielded a continuum of reactions, ranging from positive and affirming to hostile and angry. The five levels of response were 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.

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