The fruits of the Anti-Gay Industry continued:
First-of-its-kind survey in North Texas indicates family rejection, religious issues lead to higher rate of depression, thoughts of suicide from the Dallas Voice, June 2009
Youth First Texas recently released the results of a first-ever comprehensive survey of LGBT youth in the Dallas metropolitan area, and it suggests there may be a widespread mental health crisis among that population. YFT officials said the study was born out of a need to determine if the nonprofit organization was meeting the needs of the youth it has pledged to serve.
Judith Dumont, director of administration at YFT, led the youth study. She said, “Any youth service provider that authentically understands their population should have a comprehensive study [of their own youth].” She said there are national studies available, but this one is the only one available “in Dallas, in Texas and even the Southwest.”
The raw data for the study was collected from 100 LGBT and questioning youth and allies, ages 14 to 22, from October through December 2008. The subsequent statistical processing was performed by Jason Mintor, a doctoral candidate at Southern Methodist University.
In terms of sexuality, the survey showed that 46 percent of YFT youth identify as gay, 31 percent as bisexual, 13 percent as lesbian, 9 percent as straight and 4 percent as questioning.
Perhaps the most revealing statistic released was that 55 percent of YFT youth had attempted suicide in their lifetime, and more than 50 percent have considered it in the last year. One out of three had made plans to kill themselves in the last year as well. Dumont, who takes these numbers seriously, also said to keep in mind that there may be “discrepancies between what youth report they are doing and what their actual behavior is.”
Still, philanthropist Mitchell Gold believes LGBT youth are indeed undergoing a “silent epidemic” of depression, a major factor in suicide. His recent book “Crisis” purports to expose “a tragic mental health crisis” affecting “hundreds of thousands of gay teenagers today.”
LGBT youth do report living in a state of continuous fear. And that, Dumont said, can lead to debilitating depression.
About 30 percent of YFT youth report depression and 22 percent report feelings of anxiety, which can originate at school, church or at home. About one quarter of YFT youth report being scared to go to school because of their sexual orientation, and about one fifth report having been assaulted at school for the same reason. Homophobic slurs are being heard on a daily basis by 45 percent of the youth.
Many youth have shifted their religious ties away from the churches in which they were raised, according to survey results. Dumont said, “Many youth were forced to choose between their identities and their church.”
The study shows, for example, that 70 percent of YFT youth were raised as Christians, but only 40 percent of today’s YFT youth identify as such.
Dumont, though, said she is excited that many youth are beginning to reclaim their religious identities by working with accepting churches such as the Cathedral of Hope and the Church of Transfiguration.
From the Cathedral of Hope website:
The Love of Christ
Jesus did a great deal to change many social customs and ideas. He elevated the position of women, and, ultimately, they were his best and most faithful disciples. He did this by example and by commandments that were absolutely inclusive of the rights of all people. Yet, in the name of the Christ whose love encompassed all, the Church has been the most homophobic of all institutions. This should not be surprising when we realize that the Church is still the largest institution which is primarily racially segregated.
The final, and central, message of the New Testament is that ALL persons are loved by God so much that God's Son was sent as a means of redemption from a disease by which we are all afflicted. The cure for this disease cannot be found in any set of actions. Neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality is redemptive. God's love through Christ was given to all people.
The Theological Reflection
For the Christian, sin must be understood as a disease that results FROM a broken relationship with God and that results IN a broken relationship with one another and with ourselves. Hence, Jesus' supreme command is to love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Christianity is not a religion with new rules and laws but rather is a new relationship with God. Those things that the legalists are fond of labeling “sins” are actually just symptoms of the much deeper disease of alienation and estrangement. Much of the energy of the Church has been spent dealing with symptoms while leaving the disease intact. Jesus did not seem overly concerned about the legal transgressions of those to whom he ministered. Rather, he was much more concerned with healing the physical, spiritual, emotional and relational brokenness of people. Perhaps if the Church would again give itself to the healing/reconciling ministry of Jesus, then some of the symptoms about which we are so concerned would begin to disappear.
That brings us to the question: Is homosexuality a symptom of brokenness? In a very few cases, perhaps. Yet, pointing fingers of blame and accusation is not Christ's way. Rather, Jesus accepted people as they were and allowed love and acceptance to work its miracle. However, most lesbians and gays have been lesbian or gay for as long as they can remember. For them, it is a much a natural characteristic as their eye color or their handedness. Kinsey Institute research (University of Indiana, 1981) has suggested that homosexuality may well be genetic or, at least, linked to some prenatal factors. (Sexual Preference, Bell &Weinberg) Certainly most competent psychologists would concur that sexual orientation is set prior to the age of five in most persons. It is, therefore, not a matter of choice, so it cannot be a moral or ethical issue.
Many Christians insist that God can change/cure the homosexual. In the book The Third Sex there are six reported cases of homosexuals whom God has “cured.” Of these six, at least four are known to have returned to their gay lifestyle. (Christianity Today, February 1981) Many lesbians and gays spend most of their lives trying, with no success, to persuade God to change them. It is like trying to get God to change your eye color. What option, then, is left to these persons? They have been told that they can't be gay and Christian. Since all efforts have failed in their struggle not to be gay or lesbian, then their only recourse, according to the Church, is that they can't be Christian. So, the Church has discounted or discarded as much as 10% of the population.