It’s one thing to advocate for awareness of the discrimination against LGBTQ members that is currently happening within our church – and the devastating results that often follow. This is a great first step. Information, stories, critiques and opinions need to continue to be forthcoming.
It’s another thing all together to figure out what we, as individuals, can do about our current situation. Many are at a loss – especially when they value their membership in our church, want to be respectful of church leaders and/or feel limited as to the influence they could have. The following is a guest post written by Dr. Roni Jo Draper. This is published here with permission. She has done an excellent job in giving us some very practical ways we can all contribute to making our communities safer for the many who are currently struggling to feel heard, understood and accepted. Please look over the list and think about which ones resonate with something you could commit yourself to follow through with.
Suicide Awareness and Prevention: 10 Things We All Can Do
Suicide is difficult and scary. Losing even one life to hopelessness and pain is too many. Indeed, our communities grow and flourish when individuals are safe to participate in them. Hearing about suicide can also make us feel sad, angry, and hopeless. But there are things we can all do to help the people around us thrive.
Here is a simple list of things that all of us can do to help protect LGBTQ children and their families. Please consider doing one or more of the following:
- Educate yourself on the signs and precursors to suicide and make yourself available to listen. This is googleable. No excuses. This is a good place to start: Adolescent suicide: recognizing warning signs.
- Learn how to talk about suicide as part of your Family Home Evenings or other family education opportunities. Here is something to get the conversation started: Talking to your kid about suicide.
- Put the numbers of suicide helplines in you phone for easy access. Trevor Hotline: 866-488-7386. Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860.
- Share technology that is available to help individuals at risk of suicide ideation. For example, Utah just launched an app that includes numbers to call that young people can put on their phones before they are in crisis.
- Give time and money to organizations that provide assistance to LGBTQ youth and families. Here are just a few: The Trevor Project, GLSEN, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), GLAAD, Affirmation (for LDS and former LDS), The National Center for Transgender Equality, The Family Acceptance Project.
- Read and share the Safe Space Kit offered at GLSEN. It is written for teachers, but it can be adapted for churches and homes.
- Call your local schools and insist that they offer anti-bullying campaigns targeted toward LGBTQ kids—including Safe Space training for faculty and staff.
- Join or start a local PFLAG. PFLAG offers support, education, and advocacy for LGBTQ people, allies, and families.
- Speak up with light and love when someone uses homophobic language. We can say something like, “You probably weren’t aware that what you said had the potential to hurt people, especially the young people among us who are just now discovering and making sense of their sexuality.” Give people the benefit of the doubt and use your voice to educate.
- Seek out opportunities to share contributions made by LGBTQ people to our society. We must remind people that LGBTQ people, like all people, have been an important part of our history, are currently contributing members of society, and have much to offer the future.
Roni Jo Draper, Ph.D., is a professor of teacher education at Brigham Young University. She is a former high school mathematics teacher and currently teaches courses in literacy and multicultural education for people preparing to become teachers. She is also a contributor to the Out in Zion podcast and the Vice President of the Provo/Utah County chapter of PFLAG. She is married and has three sons (two who identify as straight and one who identifies as queer), two daughters (who joined the family when they married her sons), and two grandsons (who are perfect in every way).
Thank you Roni Jo for such valuable information.
I would add #11: Download or order the Family Education LDS Booklet from the Family Acceptance Project which was specifically developed for members of our church. Have several of these booklets available for distribution to friends, family or members of your ward: in fact go out of your way to make sure a member of your bishopric, stake presidency, YM/YW presidency, and Relief Society Presidency has a copy.
and #12: Download or order Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth developed by SAMHSA and also help distribute this resource to friends, family and leaders as well.