Letter to Our Stake and Ward Leaders

By Gina Crivello

It’s the Sabbath.

Moments ago, I sent the following letter to our stake and ward leaders introducing the Family Acceptance Project booklet.  At first I was just going to send it to 3 bishops I personally knew and my stake president, but then I thought, “Why stop there?” I included all the bishoprics and RS presidencies in my stake… about 35 in all.

I hope it helps someone.  I admit, for some reason I was a little nervous.  Would there be retaliation? Then I felt a peace to continue and to give my brothers and sisters more credit than that.  I also hope this lays some ground work for the GSA by bringing in awareness.

I also found out today there was another gay youth suicide in our town last week.  I don’t know any of the details, and I need to be careful to not judge the cause-and-affect, but it’s tragic.

Here’s the letter:

Dear Leaders of the ( ) Stake,
Hello. I am a member of the ( ) Ward, Mormons Building Bridges, and an ally to the LGBTQ community.  I come to you with a humble heart.
I am contacting you because you may be in a position to help families whose child has come out as LGBTQ.  This is a sensitive subject that could easily destroy families and marginalize the child. Caitlin Ryan, PhD,  and Robert Rees, PhD, have an evidence-based family education resource for LDS families called Family Acceptance Project. I have given you the PDF link to this booklet but am happy to provide a hard copy. This has been recently published and given the Gold “Best Practice for Suicide Prevention” seal from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Dr. Ryan will be receiving the John E. Fryer Award from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) May 18, 2013 for her major contributions to the mental health and well-being of LGBT people. This award follows other awards she has been given during her 40 years of work in this area. From the contact I’ve had with her, I find her very dedicated.
Two to seven percent of our population identify as LGBT. Statistically speaking, if you have 100 children in your congregation’s primary and YM/YW, 2-7 of them may be LGBT. The odds are that someone that I’m mailing this info to will be face-to-face with one of these beautiful kids and their families. The info provided will help keep these families together and the children thriving.
Currently, there are about 330 homeless LDS LGBT children ages from 11 – 17 in Salt Lake County alone, kicked out for being LGBT or just looking LGBT.*  In Utah, suicide is the number one cause of death amongst particularly LDS LGBTQ youth.
While there may be misunderstandings of what LGBT is and isn’t, our church on its mormonsandgays website says, “What is changing — and needs to change — is to help Church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere.”  Elder Quentin L. Cook says, “As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”
By providing this booklet, this is my way of “expressing love, compassion and outreach.”  I hope this reaches you on this beautiful Sabbath. Thank you for the service you provide in your callings.
Neighbor and friend
*Ogden OUTreach (who helps homeless youth) has launched a program called “Safe and Sound” to help prevent LGBT youth from becoming homeless in the first place. This program would be a wonderful service project if you are looking for ideas.About Gina: Raised in Phoenix, AZ, with a degree in Zoology, I now find myself living as a Mormon-convert mom in Utah County, minivan and all. I hadn’t been aware of the issues surrounding the LGBT communities until I began following the news about Prop 8, BSA, housing & employment discrimination in my town, and especially the treatment of LGBT youth. Now more aware, it’s hard to sit and do nothing.

6 comments for “Letter to Our Stake and Ward Leaders

  1. Meg Abhau
    May 11, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Gina, this is so beautifully written. May I use some of this? Jake and I are putting something together for the church leaders in our area as well. Thank you for this.

    • Gina
      May 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      Hi, Meg! Of course — I would be honored to be part of what you and your family are doing.

  2. Wendy Montgomery
    May 11, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Love you, Gina! What an absolute inspiration you are to all of us. I need people like you where I live!! Thank for making your corner of the world a better place for these beautiful and suffering people, like my son. The suicides HAVE TO STOP. You are helping with that. I admire and respect you so much!

    • Gina
      May 11, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      Thank you, Wendy, for your support, and I am glad my letter has lifted others. I am inspired by all of you, the love you show your families, the obstacles you face, and obstacles that shouldn’t be there in the first place. I know with all my heart that the ill treatment towards the LGBT and their families is not what Christ (or the Universe/Higher Power) intended. I am so inspired, too, by the support groups and participation by members like you who also help others along the way.

  3. Diane Oviatt
    May 11, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    You rock Gina! Beautifully and eloquently stated! Thank you!

  4. Vicki Johnson
    May 12, 2013 at 9:07 am

    You will always be the answer to my prayer of why i just couldn’t get my letter written correctly… even in the very hour, my sweet tender mercy. ♥

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