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Fostering mental and physical health among LGBTQ+ Mormons and their families

One of the 4 strategic missions of the University of Utah is to partner with local communities to address critical mental/physical health needs. Our project will serve this aim by identifying evidence-based strategies for fostering the mental and physical health of LGBTQ+ members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the predominant religion in the state of Utah). We bring together experts in pediatrics, psychology, and social work to address (through quantitative surveys and targeted qualitative interviews) the unique mental and physical health challenges of this population, particularly in the context of their family relationships. These challenges stem from the Church's strict prohibition on same-gender sexual relationships and nonbinary/transgender identification. Our previous research shows that many LGBTQ+ individuals raised in the LDS church struggle with depression, post-traumatic stress, obsessive compulsive symptomology, suicidal ideation, and generalized anxiety. Others seek "reparative therapy" aimed at permanently altering their sexual or gender identity, despite the fact that such therapies are not scientifically validated. We need outreach and intervention approaches which take into account the unique cultural dynamics of the LDS community, and which can address the parallel experiences of shame, confusion, and depression that are often experienced by the family members of LGBTQ+ individuals raised in the church. The impact of this work will extend far beyond the local Utah community: The processes that we seek to identify and explain (at both the individual and family level) are also relevant to other religious communities that prohibit LGBTQ+ expression, and we plan to use the data from this project to support a future external grant submission which will investigate similar dynamics in other religious faith communities, nationally and internationally (for example, orthodox Judaism and evangelical Christianity).


School of Cultural and Social Transformation
Gender Studies
Project Owner

Lindsay Gezinski
College of Social Work
College of Social Work

School of Medicine

Project Info

Funded Project Amount

LGBTQ+ Mormon Depression Suicide Family Minority stress

Project Status
Funded 2023
Last Updated: 9/1/21