THE BLOG
09/14/2016 09:13 pm ET Updated Sep 15, 2017

Mormon Church Leaders: There's An Easy Fix To Prevent Mormon LGBT Teen Suicides

Shelley Dennis via Getty Images

On November 5, 2015 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) issued a new and extreme anti-gay edict banning same-sex married couples and their children from the Church. During the past 10 months, there have been scores of Mormon LGBT teenagers who have committed suicide because of it.

The Church's latest hateful anti-LGBT policy was actually leaked by someone inside the Mormon Church, causing its PR department to scramble. The resulting "policy change" states that the children of legally married same-sex parents are not allowed to be members of the Mormon Church until they turn 18 years old. Then they will be forced to choose between their parents who raised them and their Church. If they choose the Mormon Church, they would have to renounce their parents and their parent's sexual orientation. Wow.

At Least 32 LGBT Teen Suicides So Far

The suicides began immediately. It was reported that just in first few months after the new Church policy took effect, 32 Mormon teens took their own lives. Imagine the heartbreak for all those families who suffered the unimaginable loss of a child, a sister or a brother. Imagine all the despair, all the suffering and all the pain that Mormon Church leaders caused its LGBT members and their families. Thousands of angry Mormon Church members resigned immediately.

Mormon Apostle Dallin H. Oaks made matters worse when he said of the dozens of Mormon teen suicides, "I'm aware that those tragic things happen. Those things have to be judged by a higher authority than exists on this earth."

It became a PR disaster for the Mormon Church. In the months to follow the policy change, so many Mormon families were hurting that Church leaders finally issued a rare acknowledgement on all of the suicides. The Church owned Deseret News covered it with this headline "LDS Church Leaders Mourn Reported Deaths in Mormon LGBT Community."

It Was Really a Revelation

On January 10, 2016 the Mormon Church did an about face. Apostle Russell M. Nelson said in a speech at Church owned BYU Hawaii that it was not actually a policy change, but the LGBT ban came directly from God. That hard to swallow bit of damage control two months after the original Church edict led to tens of thousands of more Mormon resignations.

125,000 Resignations and Counting

Church members started going online, talking to their Bishops and lining up by the thousands to fill out the necessary paperwork to officially leave their Church. One estimate is that up to 125,000 Mormons have resigned the Mormon Church in the last 10 months because of it. One attorney in Salt Lake City has personally handled 12,000 resignations alone. This figure is on top of the nearly one million Mormons who have resigned the Church after the it was outed as being the driving force and funder of California's Proposition 8.

Parent-Rejected LGBT Teen Suicide Attempt Rate -- 8 Times National Average

It's no coincidence that, according to studies by the Family Acceptance Project, LGBT youth with highly-rejecting families have 8 times the attempted suicide rate. This must stop.

A Simple Mormon Solution

There's an easy fix for the First Presidency and the 12 Mormon Apostles. Come up with a new and welcoming policy for LGBT Mormons and present it at your General Conference in Salt Lake City next weekend. Open your doors to all members of the LGBT community and their families just like you did for African Americans 40 years ago.

Simply issue a statement at the upcoming General Conference like you did on June 8, 1978, when the Mormon Church changed its 150 year old policy that banned African Americans from the Church.

Use loving words like you did back then when you said "All worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color." Just change it slightly to read, "All worthy members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for sexual orientation or gender identity." It's that easy.

The Mormon Church would help lead the way toward equality for all by acknowledging that times and families are changing. Let everyone in the world know that they are welcome in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It would stop all your membership losses and instead help to grow the Church again.

But most importantly, you could end all these teenage suicides, the attempted suicides and go a long way toward stopping the scourge of depression and homelessness within the Mormon LGBT community.

Please take this recommendation to heart, President Monson and all Apostles. Welcome and embrace all God's children into the Mormon Church.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.