Sometimes Church is Child Abuse

LGBTQ teens and religious toxins

James Finn
Apr 30, 2020 · 8 min read
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So, before we talk about your dad, let’s talk about you

You are perfectly ordinary, just the way you are

Gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, whatever, you were born to be who you are. Whether God designed you or nature did, we know for sure that people with minority gender identities and sexual orientations are perfectly ordinary, as Emily Mullin reports in OneZero magazine.

Being gay is just as healthy as being straight

Since the 1950s, doctors and mental health professionals have been studying gay people, looking for evidence that something is wrong with us. The first doctors to study that question expected to prove we aren’t healthy. But it turns out their assumptions were wrong. Click on the link to this article for studies about how healthy gay people are.

Going to church sometimes makes gay people unhealthy

When gay people suffer from mental health problems like depression and anxiety, it’s often because they feel rejected by family or religion. For most people, going to church regularly means better mental health and more happiness. For LGBTQ people, it’s just the opposite. A 2018 study that examined over 21,000 young adults found that the more LGBTQ people go to church, the more mentally unhealthy they are.

Going to the RIGHT church changes that

You didn’t ask about this, but I’m an old busybody, so … You have a right to explore faith and spirituality in a healthy, safe environment. You’re at exactly the age to start asking all the big questions in life. Who am I? Where did I come from? What’s it all about?

But what about Dad and my aunt?

I haven’t answered your question yet, have I? I can hear you now! “Listen, I’m cool with being gay, but Dad and my aunt are making me go to this stupid church. So what should I do about that?”

To all the dads and other family members out there —

Raising kids is hard. I get that, because I’ve been there. You do the best you can and hope that’s good enough. It usually is, because kids are resilient. Even when we make mistakes, things often work out. Raising an LGBTQ teenager, though, can require some insight and skills that straight/cisgender parents might need some help with.

We LGBTQ people swim in toxins

LGBTQ kids live in world where gay means bad and where casual, cutting jokes are background noise. We internalize a LOT of that.

Family acceptance is critical for LGBTQ youth

Studies show that family acceptance helps protect LGBTQ adolescents from suicidal behavior, depression, and substance abuse. Young people with accepting families report higher self-esteem, social support, and overall health. The more accepting the family, the healthier the kid.

Toxic religion is a big problem

Dad, you might want to go over those numbers in the study I already cited about religion’s toxic effects. Your son is only 14. At his age, authority figures are very important. What he’s learning in church is troubling him deeply.

How do I know that?

He went to the trouble of writing to me — a complete stranger — for advice. I understand you don’t agree with the teachings of your sister’s church, and that you’re advising your kid to ignore them like you did when you were his age. If only it were that easy!

Put yourself in his shoes

He’s being taken to a nice church, with nice people who look and act eminently respectable. Like any kid his age, he wants to please them. What does he get in return? Moral condemnation and sexual stigmatization. They tell him God doesn’t approve of who he is — on a deep-down, fundamental, sexual level.

And now to answer the question —

Tense in Texas, what should you do? How can you handle being forced to go to a church where people teach that you’re a bad person? Here are Aunty’s thoughts!

  1. Get support. Join a GSA (Gender and Sexual Alliance) club at school where you can learn all sort of positive things about LGBTQ people and history.
  2. Get ammunition. Learn about how many Christian churches SUPPORT LGBTQ people. Many Christians accept and affirm you. Click this link to read about how they view religion and the Bible.
  3. Get tough. Learn how to develop an “I don’t give a flip” sort of attitude. You’re going to have to put up with a lot of haters in your life. You can’t let them get you down.
  4. Get ready. At some point, you’re going to have to make a decision. Whether it’s tomorrow, next month, or a few years from now, you’re going to have to reach a point where you won’t take it anymore. At some point, when the preacher (this one or some other one) starts disrespecting LGBTQ people, you’re going to have to stand up and walk out. You’re going to have to say no to hate.

Let’s all try to keep those important principles in mind when it comes to setting examples for our kids. Let’s make the world a better place.

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James Finn

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

James Finn - The Blog

Collected Writings. Stories and ramblings from a long-time LGBTQ thinker and activist.

James Finn

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

James Finn - The Blog

Collected Writings. Stories and ramblings from a long-time LGBTQ thinker and activist.

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