LDS leader’s comments about suicides after policy change angers Mama Dragons

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

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



  • David Whittington

    The Church is obsessed with the medieval notion gay people are sinners simply because they are gay. This is ridiculous. The best thing the Mama Dragons can do is pull themselves and their children OUT of this evil organization and go find a REAL church.


      Yes David, but wouldn’t that make more of them want to commit suicide? According to Mama Dragons you’ve got it all wrong David.

    • Valrick Welch

      Actually it is obsessed with the notion that people are sinners. I think it may only be in Utah that there is an obsession with gay people being sinners. Here in Micronesia marriage is only between a man and a women. In many or even most cases marriages are for the families. If a guy likes another guy, people don’t care, but they can’t get married because they can’t have a family, and it is the family that is most important. Micronesian suicides are 90% male and, according to Father Hazel, the recognized expert here, it is not caused by bullying or depression. In most cases it is because they shamed the family, or they are angry with their family. Hazel’s research had no mention of suicides related to LGBT issues.

  • Anotherbob

    Simple, stop being members. Nobody should kill themselves because a man made church thinks gays are evil, I don’t understand why people choose to remain members when the church is so openly against them. Religion is a scam, if it helps you live a better life then great, but by all means don’t let it run/ruin your life.

  • The Lady From Yakima

    I’m unimpressed until this organization can provide verification for this supposed suicide epidemic.

    • Dara Smythe

      I’d like to see some accurate statistics about suicde numbers among LGBT people in the general population as compared to the above purported ones in LDS membership.

  • bob

    Nobody has killed themselves over that, and to claim that they have is pretty disgusting. Using the tragedy of others to push a political agenda is about as low as you can get.

    Let’s see the documentation for those 33 suicides.

    • Joshua

      The epidemic of LGBT suicides is nothing new and has been well documented, time and time again in the publications of medical, psychological, and pediatric associations. Newspapers have also documented them. Why should new proof be required of a phenomenon we’ve been seeing time and time again? When young people feel rejected by peers and authority figures they sometimes turn to suicide. Having worked in the LGBT community, and LDS Gay Mormon support organizations, I can assure you this is happening. We could certainly provide you with lists of names…but how many would you require before you agree its a problem? One? Ten? all 33? Or even with those 33, would you still be willing to justify the recklessness of policies and their unintended consequences?

      • Apologist JD

        I don’t think he was trying to say that LGBT don’t commit suicide, just questioning whether they are doing it because of the policy. This would be very difficult to prove or disprove since, as you note, this is a segment of the population already prone to suicide in high numbers. I actually suspect severe depression is the culprit, but nobody wants to address mental illness because that’s politically incorrect. And please spare me arguments that their depression is externally forced upon them, because there’s nothing in any medical literature that suggests you can give someone depression. I’m not saying it’s their fault either, but refusing to address the cause of suicides isn’t helping the situation.

      • bob

        The claim is that the LDS policy has directly led to an extra 300 suicides.

        THAT requires proof. Or at least some hint of evidence. But you’ll go ahead and accept it at face value because your politics requires that of you.

      • bob

        I make no attempt to justify the LDS policy. I think it’s silly. But I’m a atheist, and therefore have no dog in the fight.

        I’m just not prepared to accept a politically motivated claim by an obvious hate group at face value.

      • Stewart McDonald

        How many same sex couples do you know personally that have 8-year old children who want to be baptized? Taking my life because of policy of some church I don’t even believe in hurts my feelings seems to be a little counter productive.

      • darasmythe

        I would risk the guess that most suicides are committed because of depression and find it very difficult if not impossible not to believe that the LGBT people in the LDS Church have had a long history of depression starting far before the most recent announcement about their lifestyle was ever mentioned in any way by the church hierarchy. I also doubt that for the most part that announcement either doesn’t pertain to those the Mama Dragons (Whence THAT name?) are roiling/railing about or they are already making the decision for the child before the child is even eight that he/she is gay/lesbian/ a candidate for transgender reformation. I don’t suppose you’ve ever considered the “recklessness of policies and their unintended consequences” that promulgate and foster lies about what is natural for mankind, safe and loving for children, what are aberrations of mental/physical well being, and what the future of people singularly and as as a whole of inhabitatats of this world might be? In other words, what makes you so certain you are totally correct in your views on this topic, especially when when the evidence is all around all of us that you are not? It really scares me to think that those who refuse to see might well become the majority one day. Will the world die with a “wimper”/


        You play around the edges of this story but aren’t honest about yourself. Why don’t you come out of the closet and admit why you have a dog in this fight?

  • liberalssuck

    Leviticus 18:22-You shall not lie with a man, as with a woman: it is abomination.
    Don’t care who likes it or doesn’t like it.It is what it is.Yes according to the bile homosexuality IS a sin.Spin it any way you want to condone your lifestyle or beliefs,but it is what it is.

      • Stewart McDonald

        If you think Jesus, Muḥammad, or any of the prophets of the New or Old Testiment condoned homosexual activity you are sadly misinformed. Actually I suspect you really know better.

  • D.R. Thurgood

    The Mama Dragons are making a serious claim. Social Science is indeed science…and claims should have verification as well as documentation.

    • Joshua

      Have you attempted to do a search of periodicals and journal research to see what is and what is not out there? The correlation of societal acceptance and LGBT suicidality is well documented, and has been for over 20 years. For privacy issues, as it relates to these 33, it’s pretty obvious why they aren’t releasing names (there’s the issue that these were young people, and releasing their names would potentially violate privacy laws). But, if you want one resource which addresses the topic within the LDS context, I recommend the work of Dr. Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project
      The real question here, is what is the threshold of evidence you require to be convinced? Sociology (which you appear to be appealing to) has well explored theories of social change, and how groups will cling on to ideas which have been throughly disproven, no matter how much evidence is given. Are you one of these? Are you trolling the comments, using science as a cover, with no intention to accept indications which might differ from your own preconceived notions? Afraid of the dissonance and what that might mean?

      • bob

        You are correct that gays commit suicide at a relatively high rate, but no evidence has been put forth to support the idea that the new LDS policy has led directly to suicides.

      • Stewart McDonald

        It is well documented that homosexuals die at a greater percentage from suicide when compaired with their non-homosexual peers. Are you suggesting that your children would be less inclined to commit suicide if they were baptized into the mormon church?

      • Valrick Welch

        I am the project manager for Project Traditional Technology. This project involves the collecting of the stories of the elders. It is fairly well established that “cultural protective factors” increase self acceptance and reduce suicide. This was well documented after 9/11 where everyone dealt with the same traumatic experience. The children who knew their family stories were more resilient to the experience, in particular, the children who knew the stories that families are proud to share, as well as those they are ashamed of, were the most resilient. The LDS culture is one of sharing family histories (they are partnering with my project here in Saipan). Those stories talk of heroic rescues, as well as family members who practiced polygamy well after the manifesto, the millionaire uncle who is an alcoholic , the 3rd cousin who accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun, that was really a suicide, the prejudice of church members blocking a families entrance to church because mom published a book about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. An LGBT, or any other relative with the DNA of these stories has the cultural protective factors of understanding that they are not alone in their differences. I agree that one suicide is too many. At the same time I didn’t see anything in the church elder’s comments that suggested otherwise.


        I’m sorry Joshua but I have no fixation over LGBTQ suicides. I do know that they have a higher rate than the general population. Society in general has a mistrust for people that suffer a sexual identity disorder.


        I’m more interesting in search out recipes to try out on my charcoal grill than I am in delving into the problems suffered by people who deviate from the sexual norm. Translation: I’m not interested in solving your problem Joshua.

  • brdprey

    so you force your belief on someone who clearly apposes the way you live and you have an issue with what little they do to accommodate you? would you allow me to come to your house and force my belief on you and those that either follow or reside under you?

    • KARL

      No need for you to panic BRDPREY. I didn’t realize the mormons were forcing you to do anything. Most organizations you join have rules of conduct. If you don’t like the Navy’s rules of conduct for example don’t volunteer. Sheeesh!!

  • liberalssuck

    These are groups that want tolerance and acceptance,I don’t see much tolerance and acceptance for opposing beliefs.

  • Apologist JD

    I’m considering starting a pool and taking bets on when Ms. Hancock is officially no longer a member of the church. We all know it’s coming, the question is whether she realizes it. On another note, whatever your position on LGBT issues, I see tremendous irony in those who attempt to change the church from the position of loyal, believing members. I get outsiders trying to bring about change in an organization to which they don’t belong, but those on the inside puzzle me. The paradox is that if they are successful in getting the church to change its policies, they will have proven that by the church’s own doctrine, it is false. The LDS church claims to be led by Jesus Christ through direct revelation to modern prophets. If those prophets can be swayed by public opinion and social pressure, doesn’t it suggest that Jesus and revelation aren’t really the driving force? Thus, if they succeed in getting the church to change, they will have also succeeded in disproving the church’s claims. This being the case, shouldn’t they just quit?

    • Kirsten

      Well that’s exactly what happened with black members. Before the civil rights movement they weren’t allowed to be members, then all of a sudden the ‘prophet’ changed his mind. No different.

      • Stewart McDonald

        Blacks were always allowed to be members of the LDS Church Kirsten. Making false statements doesnt bolster your argument.

      • BooHoo

        Continuous Revelation is what the Church believes. With this, I get the asking by those with different lifestyles (gays, etc.) if it is acceptable but when they are told no and turn to hate speech and hate action towards others is where hey lose the argument for me! It’s like watching a kid throw a tantrum because they didn’t get their toy or cookie when they ask for it.

    • Joshua

      Ever hear of the Counter-Reformation? Or Vatican II? Change rarely happens within an organization unless there’s BOTH pressure from within and without. And it’s slow. But it can and does happen. Not everyone is in a position, mentally, emotionally, or logically, to just walk away from a faith that encompasses their entire lives. Faiths give meaning. It’s about tradition. Family. Good experiences. And then comes the dissonance, which a lot of people don’t know what to do with. So they stay. And that’s okay. And if they leave, that’s also okay. Why do people stay? Clearly you have never studied sociology and group theory.

      • Stewart McDonald

        Ever hear of Sodom and Gomorrah Joshua? Neither Jesus or Huhammad approved of immoral conduct. You should know that.

  • caseagain

    You know these people who are religious are really bigoted. I mean they actually think the bible is real and that the commandments are something that should be followed. Even worse! They live by those teachings! I am deeply ashamed by someone that stands by their convictions.

    • Stewart McDonald

      You remind me of the flea living on the elephant’s tail that exalted in his great wisdom and knowledge. Are you just a tad bigoted yourself Caseagain?

    • Joshua

      Hell, caseagain, just because its in the bible, and just because people I’ve by their convictions, doesn’t make it either right or moral. Cases in point: Slavery is justified in the bible; and Southern Evangelicals used this to justify the institution of slavery and the superiority of white folks althorough the civil war, reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights movement. Women are commanded by Paul to remain silent and yield to priesthood authority: which was used to refuse women the right to vote. And so forth, and so forth. Biblical interpretation changes, and thank God for that. If we were to still follow it word from word, we’d be living in a third world country, somewhere between the Babylonians and the Assyrians. Oh wait, they died off too.

  • Mary St. George (@KeukaRealEstate)

    This church was founded by a man in Upstate NY during modern times. His church philosophy caused locals to boot him out of NY. He went to Ohio and was pushed out of there and from Missouri .. He believed in polygamy, doesn’t that say anything? Why would any intelligent woman belong to a church that is not just run by men, but allows men to set the rules for women? The Catholic Church is losing members for lesser items when it comes to women. Our religions were founded for power, power for men. As long as women succumb to this power, men will continue to control their lives, be it wife, daughter, mother etc..

    • BooHoo

      So now the church and it’s members hate women?!?! Are you kidding me?!?! You people will never tire of this attack will you? I love how you point out that church members were “forced” out of their states in this so called “free” country! Talk about acceptance and tolerance, not!

    • Stewart McDonald

      The Catholic Church had the Holy Inquisition in the Medieval times but I don’t judge them today because of past practices. Your problem with men runs much deeper than same sex attraction.

  • Anthony

    Sad as this is when people are not able to understand the Lord’s words. People who commit suicide are simply put, weak minded. There is hope for them should others reach out to help when it is noticed. As for people involved in same sex relationships, they can not be true Christians, following Yeshua when they are violating the Holy Spirit’s commandments. Yeshua confirmed marriage is between one man and one woman, as it has been from the beginning of time. Society is to blame for allowing this same sex issue to get out of control by allowing pornography to be present in this land, and it is open for eyes of all ages to see. This is sad. The United states government must change their wicked ways and start mandating laws restrictions pornography of “ALL” kinds to be removed from this land and forbid same sex marriage. This way children will not grow up thinking it is ok.

    As to the comment of “loosing one person over this is too much” you overlook the fact that Yeshua had said that of saving one soul, and you are not saving souls by accepting their sin of same sex behavior. Every person that accepts sins of any kind, rejects the Lord of heaven above.


    If you have a child who is transgendered they will have a hard time regardless of where they live. In Missouri high school girls told a guy who goes by the name of Lila Perry to stay the heck out of their locker room.

    Bruce Jenner can call himself Caitlyn if he wants to but the doctor that delivered him got it right when he told Bruce’s mother “It’s a boy”.

  • gman

    Mama’s a suggestion if you will; search for truth. Whether or not what is sin or not, yours, mine, everyone is between that person and their Higher Power, all have sin except One. One main tenet of Martin Luther establishing Protestantism is that no church is required or stands between a person and a personal relationship with God. All religion is man made; the CHURCH is in the heart of the believers, not a brick and mortar institution. A start is hotm dot tv of SLC.

  • Stewart McDonald

    I guess people that are frustrated about their children’s sexual deviations from the norm have to vent their anger on somebody or some organization.

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.