Nov 042012


Productively Working With our Gay and Lesbian Youth

DATES: November 9 (Villa Park) and November 10 (La Canada – Flintridge).

TIME: 7:30 p.m.

We are pleased to announce that our November 2012 Miller Eccles presenters will be Professor Robert A. Rees and Dr. Caitlin Ryan. Professor Rees, a prolific author and editor, has taught at UCLA, UC Santa Cruz and Wisconsin, and is currently teaching Mormon Studies at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Dr. Ryan, a pioneer in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (“LGBT”) health studies and clinical work, is Director of the Family Acceptance Project at SF State University, a world-renown community research, intervention, education and policy initiative. Together Drs. Ryan and Rees have authored an important training brochure titled “Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Latter-day Saint Families with LGBT Children.”

Their presentation is based on critical research from the Family Acceptance Project which shows the relationship between family rejection, support and acceptance of LGBT youth with risk and well-being in young adulthood. This includes higher levels of risk for depression, suicide, substance abuse and STDs, as well as higher levels of self-esteem, better general health and well-being. This research and recently-published booklet have been used and well-received as training materials by bishops and stake presidents in the Bay Area, Washington and Utah.


Through the years, and particularly in the wake of Proposition 8, there has been much misunderstanding of issues pertaining our gay and lesbian brothers, sisters and children. All of us know such individuals, many of whom have been stalwart Church members in their younger years, some of whom still are. The sad truth, however, is that many of our young people feel rejected and marginalized by the anti-gay rhetoric that tends to come to the fore in hotly contested political campaigns. The result has been, in some instances, alienation of youth from their families and Church friends, drug addiction, homelessness and, in some instances, suicide.

Dr. Ryan has conducted extensive research on problems surrounding LGBT youth and her writing is in the forefront of this important field. Professor Rees likewise has had considerable experience in this area, having served as a bishop in an area with a significant LGBT population and counseled scores of lesbian and gay youth. Their booklet has inspired stake presidents, bishops and other Church leaders and has been influential in helping to bring about understanding and reconciliation with our LGBT brothers, sisters and children. Donald Fletcher, one of the bishops who received this training (formerly a counselor in his stake presidency), wrote a nationally-published piece about his experience with the booklet prepared by Dr. Ryan and Dr. Rees. His article can be accessed here.

You may wish to invite your bishop and stake president to attend this important Miller Eccles meeting with you.


Caitlin Ryan, PhD, ACSW is a clinical social worker who has worked on LGBT health issues for more than 35 years. She is the director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University. Her work has been recognized by many groups, including the National Association of Social Workers and the American Psychological Association. She receive the latter organizations Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. Dr. Ryan is also a member of the Committee on LGBT Health appointed by the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences.

Robert A. Rees, Ph.D, is a life-long member of the Church. For the past thirty years he has fostered dialogue between LDS families and Church leaders on issues relating to sexual orientation and same-gender identity and attraction. A scholar whose work has been published in a wide range of peer-reviewed journals, Dr. Rees has taught at UCLA and UC Santa Cruz and currently teaches Mormon Studies at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He has held a number of positions in the Church, including bishop, high counselor, Institute instructor and a member of the Baltic States Mission Presidency, where he and his wife served as education and humanitarian representatives of the Church for nearly four years.

Posted by Morris Thurston



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