I didn’t comprehend how serious the related problems were with the LBGTQIA+ issue and neurodiverse populations in the Church and in religious schools until I started serving in LBGTQIA+ religious trauma recovery ministry almost a year ago, until I did a year’s worth of research, and until I spent time around older LBGTQIA+ adults. I am a pediatric specialty therapist titled as an Academic Language Therapist, a Licensed Dyslexia Therapist, an Autism Specialist, and now, a Neuro-Cognition specialist. I am a hybrid medical and educational professional. For the last two years, I have been moving more in a medical mental health direction as a professional. I am currently working on a certification in LBGTQIA+ Mental Health.
As I have served in religious trauma recovery over the last year, I have seen regular attempts of suicide, families being ripped apart, and all kinds of horrible trauma from those who leave certain Catholic Churches and other conservative churches after their children identify as LBGTQIA+. Many of these children are also Autistic or neurodivergent. As a practitioner, I define neurodivergent as an umbrella term which describes any person who falls on a minority spectrum of psychology or neurology which diverges from the general population. LBGTQIA+ people are not disabled, but they do fall on a clinical spectrum of psychology. Everything I have seen and experienced first-hand reinforces science and the fact that every word and action in the Church towards LBGTQIA+ people, their families, neurodivergent individuals, and their families is a matter of life and death. Parents of these children should not have to choose between their child’s right-to-life or stay in the Church. It’s that serious.
“According to a 2019 study, when one parent fully supports their LGBTQ child, the rate of suicide attempts drop dramatically, by 40 percent.”
I believe it will take a generation to undo the harm that the Church at-large has done to neurodiverse populations (especially LBGTQIA+ people and their families). I confess myself in this, for I just now understand the magnitude of the LBGTQIA+ experience. It took a year of me serving in religious trauma recovery, extensive research, and regularly spending time with LBGTQIA+ adults for me to understand this as a Catholic mother and clinician. I wish I would have understood sooner. God forgive me.
Any efforts to coerce or change an LBGTQ child’s identity, such as through gay “conversion,” “reparative therapy” or even threats of eternal damnation, cause, the statistics show, lasting psychological damage.
The longer this goes on unreconciled both in Catholic Churches and in Catholic Schools and the Church at-large, the more Catholic kids in schools, their homes, and the Church with differing psychology and neurology will potentially commit suicide or get permanently damaged, especially those kids who identify as LBGTQIA+.
“The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health states that every word and action of love, affirmation or acceptance can between the difference life and death for LGBTQIA+ people.”
Please read my article titled, “How to Repair the relationship between the Church and Neurodiverse and LBGTQIA+ people.” It was edited with the help of Father James Martin.