Presentation Title

The Impact of Family Support and Rejection among Seventh-day Adventist LGBT+ Millennials

Presenter Status

Department of Social Work

Second Presenter Status

Department of Discipleship & Religious Education

Third Presenter Status

Department of Social Work

Fourth Presenter Status

Department of Graduate Psychology and Counseling

Presentation Type

Plenary Presentation

Location

Buller Hall, Room 208

Start Date

15-5-2018 7:30 PM

End Date

15-5-2018 8:30 PM

Presentation Abstract

Background

For decades, researchers have found disproportionate numbers of individuals who identify as LGBT+ experience depression, suicidal ideation and attempts (Faulkner & Cranston, 1998; Mustanski & Liu, 2013; Noell & Ochs, 2001; Silenzio et al, 2007; Spirito & Esposito-Smythers, 2006). Research demonstrates that one factor increasing the odds of LGBT+ youth’s suicidal ideation and/or attempts is family rejection (Pompili et al., 2014; Klein & Golub, 2016).

Methods

Instrument

Researchers developed a survey instrument to investigate family acceptance and rejection of LGBT+ youth in Seventh-day Adventist families. Standardized measures of depression, social support, health, substance abuse, and high-risk sexual behavior and suicidal thoughts/behaviors were included.

Data collection

Researchers used purposive snowball sampling to collect anonymous data between July – October 2016. A SurveyMonkey link was distributed to two SDA LGBT+ collegiate and adult networks as well as through several LGBT+ friendly blogs. A total of 310 Millenials (ages 18-35) completed the full survey.

Findings

Lifetime suicidal ideation and/or attempts were associated with family rejection including the use of demeaning language, not being allowed to associate with LGBT+ friends, being scared to come out because of family religious beliefs, and the fear of being disowned by parents. Suicidal ideation and/or attempts within the past six months were associated with some of these same family issues, but also with their own religious beliefs triggering feelings of guilt and shame. With both lifetime and recent suicidal thoughts and/or attempts, respondents felt that their families blamed them for any anti-LGBT+ mistreatment they received. The survey items correlating with depression mirror those of suicidal ideation. In addition, respondents with higher rates of depression reported that their parents/caregivers were not supportive of the way they dressed or fixed their hair to express sexuality and/or gender.

Depression scores were predicted by sexual orientation, religiosity, and reading religious books (F(7, 171) = 3.223, p = .003), with an of .117. Depression was higher in bisexual individuals compared to gay or lesbian individuals. Stronger identity as a religious person and reading religious books was associated with lower depression scores. Suicidal ideation in the last 6 months was associated with gender, age, private prayer, reading religious books, engaging in religious community service, and depression. The odds of having suicidal thoughts were 4 times higher for those 23- 29 compared to 18 to 22 year olds. Reading religious books and having family support decreased the odds of suicidal thoughts. Greater religiosity resulted in lower odds of lifetime suicide attempts. Unprotected sex was significantly associated with gender, sexual orientation, and participation in religious services. The odds of having un-protected sex were lower for those who participated in religious services.

Conclusions

A recent Pew Research report (2015) found that almost half (48%) of those who self-identify as LGBT also consider themselves to be Christian. As such, it is crucially important that educators and church leaders become sensitized to the special needs of LGBT+ adolescents and youth growing up in conservative Christian homes, particularly when coming out.

Biographical Sketch

Curtis VanderWaal, MSW, PhD, is Chair and Professor of Social Work at Andrews University, where he has taught since 1990. He is also director of the Center for Community Impact Research at the Institute for Prevention of Addictions. He teaches classes in program evaluation, substance abuse treatment, group therapy, and values & ethics. The majority of his research has focused on substance abuse treatment & prevention, social capital, faith-based ministries, agency program evaluations, and faith-based LGBT issues. He has been involved in over 30 funded research projects, including funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the DeVos Family Foundations, the United Way of Southwest Michigan, and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He has authored or co-authored over 30 peer reviewed journal articles or book chapters and participated in more than 90 peer reviewed research presentations and poster sessions. He currently serves on the editorial board of the journal “Social Work and Christianity.”

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May 15th, 7:30 PM May 15th, 8:30 PM

The Impact of Family Support and Rejection among Seventh-day Adventist LGBT+ Millennials

Buller Hall, Room 208

Background

For decades, researchers have found disproportionate numbers of individuals who identify as LGBT+ experience depression, suicidal ideation and attempts (Faulkner & Cranston, 1998; Mustanski & Liu, 2013; Noell & Ochs, 2001; Silenzio et al, 2007; Spirito & Esposito-Smythers, 2006). Research demonstrates that one factor increasing the odds of LGBT+ youth’s suicidal ideation and/or attempts is family rejection (Pompili et al., 2014; Klein & Golub, 2016).

Methods

Instrument

Researchers developed a survey instrument to investigate family acceptance and rejection of LGBT+ youth in Seventh-day Adventist families. Standardized measures of depression, social support, health, substance abuse, and high-risk sexual behavior and suicidal thoughts/behaviors were included.

Data collection

Researchers used purposive snowball sampling to collect anonymous data between July – October 2016. A SurveyMonkey link was distributed to two SDA LGBT+ collegiate and adult networks as well as through several LGBT+ friendly blogs. A total of 310 Millenials (ages 18-35) completed the full survey.

Findings

Lifetime suicidal ideation and/or attempts were associated with family rejection including the use of demeaning language, not being allowed to associate with LGBT+ friends, being scared to come out because of family religious beliefs, and the fear of being disowned by parents. Suicidal ideation and/or attempts within the past six months were associated with some of these same family issues, but also with their own religious beliefs triggering feelings of guilt and shame. With both lifetime and recent suicidal thoughts and/or attempts, respondents felt that their families blamed them for any anti-LGBT+ mistreatment they received. The survey items correlating with depression mirror those of suicidal ideation. In addition, respondents with higher rates of depression reported that their parents/caregivers were not supportive of the way they dressed or fixed their hair to express sexuality and/or gender.

Depression scores were predicted by sexual orientation, religiosity, and reading religious books (F(7, 171) = 3.223, p = .003), with an of .117. Depression was higher in bisexual individuals compared to gay or lesbian individuals. Stronger identity as a religious person and reading religious books was associated with lower depression scores. Suicidal ideation in the last 6 months was associated with gender, age, private prayer, reading religious books, engaging in religious community service, and depression. The odds of having suicidal thoughts were 4 times higher for those 23- 29 compared to 18 to 22 year olds. Reading religious books and having family support decreased the odds of suicidal thoughts. Greater religiosity resulted in lower odds of lifetime suicide attempts. Unprotected sex was significantly associated with gender, sexual orientation, and participation in religious services. The odds of having un-protected sex were lower for those who participated in religious services.

Conclusions

A recent Pew Research report (2015) found that almost half (48%) of those who self-identify as LGBT also consider themselves to be Christian. As such, it is crucially important that educators and church leaders become sensitized to the special needs of LGBT+ adolescents and youth growing up in conservative Christian homes, particularly when coming out.