We at Flourish Therapy, Celebrate Therapy, Progressive Paths Therapy, and Encircle Therapy have become increasingly concerned about the mental health and welfare of LGBTQ+ students at BYU.
We are disheartened at the increased minority stress they are experiencing as a result of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s recent address to BYU leadership.
So long as there are LBGTQ+ students at BYU, the university has an obligation to protect them as a vulnerable minority and take specific measures to promote their mental, social, and spiritual health as minority students. It is also essential for the university to actively support and assist faculty members in allowing students to be visible and safe as LGBTQ+ students participating in a university experience.
Minority stress has been shown to be directly related to mental health, physical health, isolation and life functioning. We, as therapists, are seeing increased distress in all of these domains in LGBTQ+ clients who are BYU students, as well as in those who care about them.
We invite people who do not understand why LGBTQ+ students at BYU would experience increased distress as a result of Elder Holland’s talk to spend time reading about and understanding minority stress (See some options below). In addition, it would be helpful to understand that LGBTQ+ BYU students do not have what most minorities do – a family culture of solidarity in that minority experience.
For many LGBTQ+ BYU students, their lifelines of cultural support come from faculty who help them navigate matters of faith and identity in positive ways, supporting their spiritual, social, and academic contributions to the university. Many faculty members have come to understand that visibility and expression are essential to these students’ well-being and resilience.
We express support for BYU LGBTQ+ students and encourage them to take actions that lead to positive mental health such as being visible in safe spaces, sharing experiences that generate resilience and connection, and pursuing their best hopes and dreams.
We hope to be part of the solution for increased empathy and awareness of these issues. LGBTQ+ people have a tremendous wealth of experience and skill to contribute to the world. Let’s identify ways our institutions create obstacles in their path and remove these barriers.
See https://www.apa.org/…/exchange/2012/04/minority-stress for an excellent discussion and listing of peer-reviewed studies on minority stress. Also see: https://www.psychiatry.org/…/stress-and-trauma/lgbtqhttps://www.apa.org/…/journals/features/sgd-sgd0000132.pdf