The Religious Institute, a multi-faith organization dedicated to sexual health, education and justice, calls on the nation’s clergy once again to speak out in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens and young adults in recognition of National Coming Out Day, which is October 11th. The recent suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old boy who was subjected to brutal anti-gay bullying after making a video to encourage other gay teens, demonstrates the sad urgency of this call to action, which remains as necessary as it was in the wake of multiple teen suicides in September 2010.
“All of us have teens and young adults who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender in our congregations, many who are suffering in silence and are at risk,” noted Rev. Debra W. Haffner, executive director of the Religious Institute. “One study found that 14% of teens in religious communities identify as something other than heterosexual. Almost nine in ten of them have not been open about their sexuality with clergy or other adult leaders in their faith communities.”
Studies show that almost six in ten clergy from mainline denominations support the full inclusion and acceptance of LGBT persons, yet other studies have found that eight in ten of even the most progressive clergy don't have programs in their congregations to support LGBT youth.
“We have known for more than thirty years that at least one third of all suicides to teens are to gay youth,” Haffner pointed out. “Our young people are dying because we are not speaking out for them. Ask yourself honestly, do the LGBT youth in your faith community know that you welcome and support them? What have you done to make sure that these youth know they are loved and supported, to demonstrate that you understand that they, too, are God's children?”
The Religious Institute has created new worship resources in support of National Coming Out Day. They include a responsive reading, prayers, a prayer litany and more, available at www.religiousinstitute.org/lgbtqworship. Additional resources for sermon preparation or religious education are available at www.religiousinstitute.org/resources.