There’s “blood on your hands” – activist asks for changes after 5 more LGBT youth suicides in Utah’s largest Church
In a powerful video posted on his Facebook page Tuesday, Neon Trees lead singer Tyler Glenn, an openly gay former Mormon, blasts the church for allegedly causing young LGBT members to commit suicide.
As we reported Wednesday, Utah’s youth suicide rate nearly tripled from 2007 to 2014, and Glenn claims five young LGBT Mormons have taken their lives in the last week alone. In the video, which is addressed to Mormon church leaders and has been viewed 342,000 times, Glenn displays shows photos of two of the victims (below), “Stockton” and “Wyatt,” as well as an image (above) from one of their funerals. (An online obituary for Stockton “Bubba” Powers confirms that he died June 27 at 17 and was a member of the LGBT community.)
“I want you to say their names and remember their photos,” Glenn says, fighting back tears. ”[Church President] Russell Nelson and the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is blood of your members of your hands. Please don’t let this be a summer of more gay suicides. Please make a space for your gay members. Please tell them they are OK and they’re made in the image of God and they’re not flawed. Please stop telling them that they are abnormal. Please, please, please, how many more? How many more?”
Glenn references the church’s horrific new anti-gay policy announced in November, which Nelson later said was a revelation from God. The policy declares same-sex couples apostates and barring their children from being baptized. Glenn says in the eight months since the policy
“Dear Russell Nelson, you spearheaded this policy in November, and you and your colleagues claim to speak directly to and for God. As his mouthpieces on this Earth today, you have yet to respond to the confusion, chaos and disruption that you have caused so many current and former members of your church, both queer and straight alike,” Glenn says.
“You’ve had months and a public conference satellite-broadcast to the world in April, and you’ve yet to give light to the actual darkness that so many of your members are living in currently,” he says, adding that he served a mission for the church, which he says is “flawed” and has “no space for me.”
“There is either no God, or God isn’t speaking to you,” Glenn says. “Maybe it’s both, but you have a responsibility to speak to us.”
Coincidentally, the church did finally respond Wednesday to reports about Utah’s skyrocketing youth suicide rate, which is now more than double the national average.
“Suicide is tragic, no matter the explanation or circumstance,” the church said in a statement, according to Salt Lake City’s KUTV.com. “Our hearts ache for those who face such tragedy among those they love. The Church is actively pursuing ways to help, including online resources and local leader training, and we encourage communities to continue to partner on prevention and intervention. Every soul is precious.”
As we’ve mentioned, the Utah Department of Health didn’t initially mention the church’s anti-LGBT teachings as a possible factor fueling the youth suicide epidemic.
Instead, the health department’s Andrea Hood cited things like lower oxygen levels due to high altitudes, loose gun restrictions and “a western, rugged mentality of self-reliance.” Now, Hood says the health department has considered the possible LGBT connection, but apparently dismissed it.
“We have been closely watching our rates since various events that happened in Utah relating to the LDS church,” Hood said. “We have not seen an increase tied to those announcements.”
The main problem with this statement, of course, is that many Mormon families don’t report their loved ones’ suicides as LGBT-related because they want to avoid the associated shame from, well, the church and its members. Again, LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, with those who are rejected by their families over eight times more likely to do so.
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