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USU study examines psychological impact of being LGBT and Mormon

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Posted at 6:22 PM, Apr 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-29 20:22:52-04

LOGAN, Utah -- A recent study conducted at Utah State University indicates that many members of the LGBT community who are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are better off psychologically after making the decision to leave the LDS Church.

Researchers surveyed 1,600 people who identified as non-heterosexual and were members of the Mormon faith at some point in their lives.

The survey assessed the participants’ psychological health, quality of life and the journey that they experienced trying to negotiate their deeply held religious beliefs with their non-heterosexual identities.

According to information from USU, “The findings suggest that rejection or compartmentalization of sexual identity may be difficult to sustain over time and likely comes at a significant psychosocial cost. The study also suggests that those who integrate sexual and religions identities are the most well adjusted, although this group was in the extreme minority, suggesting that it’s not easy to achieve.”

Renee Calliher, a psychology professor at the USU and the lead researcher on the study, spoke about the journey many participants said they have undergone.

“The stories were heart-wrenching in large part,” she said. “People talked about spending years and years, sometimes decades, trying to change their sexual orientation--trying to become heterosexual.”

Callher added, “It’s evident from our data that this negotiation that people undergo is quite painful.”

Researchers said they also heard a lot of stories of resilience, where the participants were arriving at places of positive self-worth.