SALT LAKE CITY -- Mothers of LGBT children in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are expressing anger over comments made by one of their ecclesiastical leaders in Washington D.C. Feb. 9.
Last November, Church officials announced a policy change that bars children of same-sex couples from joining the organization until they’re adults. Since the announcement, the LGBT support group, Mama Dragons, claims they have received (unverifiable) reports of 33 suicides.
“If we lose one person because of the policy change, we’ve lost too many,” said Hollie Hancock, an LGBT affirming therapist with Iron Mountain Counselors.
Anger was rekindled when Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles answered a question at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies about what some are calling a suicide epidemic.
Oaks said in part about the suicides: “…It’s not unique simply to the question of sexual preference. There are other cases where people have taken their own lives and blamed a church–my church.”
Oaks said he is sad to hear of any suicide, but spoke of his role in leading the faithful.
“I think part of what my responsibility extends to, is trying to teach people to be loving, and civil and sensitive to one another...beyond that, the rightness the wrongness, I will be accountable to higher authority for that,” Oaks said.
Brooke Caldwell, a Mama Dragon member, said she is angry.
“I am fiercely angry with the church,” said Caldwell, the mother of a transgender 13-year-old.
Hancock and Caldwell are both members of the group Mama Dragons. Hancock is a member of the LDS Faith, but Caldwell parted ways with the church after the change in policy.
Caldwell and Hancock say fellow Mama Dragons are often torn over the statements from Church leaders, hoping to hear something new to bridge the gap between their faith and the love for their children.
“It’s as if we hear love your children, love your families, be there for your families, family is the most important thing in the church,” said Hancock.
“Except your gay children,” finished Caldwell.
John Dehlin, former member of the Church was excommunicated last year for apostasy. He posted the full transcription and audio of Oaks’ Q&A in D.C. on mormonstories.org.